Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hot Weather and Cool Contracts...

The weather continues to get warmer and I’ve found myself inside some large summary judgment motions and even a shareholder dispute. Each day it seems another ream of papers arrives with discovery responses or motions to be answered. It seems like this year, no one is taking the summer off.

All of the cases seem to have the same thread running through them: the importance of your written agreements. Step One, make sure you have a written agreement. One client to a real estate investment has been finding out the hard way that without a written agreement, you may be in for a lot of trouble down the road.

For those who remembered to get the agreement in writing, it is important to understand the agreement and keep a copy in a place where you can find it when there is a disagreement. I’ve spent far too many hours trying to track down the signed agreement for a client and, when it is finally found, it doesn’t say what the client thought it did. Unsurprisingly, the judge was not very sympathetic to the position that the client “thought” that is what the agreement said when it said quite a different thing.

And finally, there are those who sign the agreement, live with and act under it for 8 years, and then suddenly decide they no longer like the terms of the agreement. Not surprisingly, the other party is fine with the agreement and doesn’t agree to suddenly change the way things have operated for years without getting something in return. If you are worried about the agreement, the better time to bring those worries up is when the agreement is being negotiated, not nearly a decade later.

All of these approaches to contracts have led to a lot of paperwork and mid-summer headaches…

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pre-Trial Conferences. Lots of Pre-Trial Conferences.

July has started in earnest with a series of Pre-Trial Conferences. If it was up to me, I would schedule them all for the same day so that I don’t have to go before the same judge day after day. But unfortunately for me, the scheduling is out of my hands and so I have spent the better part of the last week in front of the same judge for a variety of conferences on different cases. At the end of the sequence, the judge even commented to me that he had seen a lot of me lately.

In the middle of my run, the clerk asked if I was back on the same cases and there was some kind of issue with the settlements that we had reached. Luckily, no, there were no issues and it was simply a quirk of the New York scheduling system that I had such a progression of cases.

So now I have finally seen my office desk again and can get ready to turn around and go down a new road in the coming weeks. Throw in some hot and humid weather, and the summer is definitely in full swing.