Protect Yourself from Business Lawsuits: And Lawyers Like Me


Thomas A. Schweich, himself a lawyer, offers novel and inexpensive advice about how companies and their employees can use commonsense business tactics to avoid potentially devastating litigation.
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Thomas A. Schweich, himself a lawyer, offers novel and inexpensive advice about how companies and their employees can use commonsense business tactics to avoid potentially devastating litigation.
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What People Are Saying

Harry Stonecipher
Wish I'd read this book twenty years ago. It probably would have saved me a lot of painful on-the-job training. . . . Great insight; presented in a very readable manner. [It] should be required reading for all levels of management.
John C. Danforth
[This book] gives easy-to-follow, practical advice. . . . In this age of strike suits and runaway juries, it should be required reading for prudent executives. A successful trial attorney, Tom Schweich provides numerous anecdotes from his own experience to illustrate his points. The price of this book is the best investment a businessperson can make.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684852676
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 10/5/1998
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Art of Suitproofing 17
Pt. 1 A System Out of Control 21
Pt. 2 The Eight Big Mistakes 33
1 Bad Writing 37
2 Bad Estimating 59
3 Speculation 73
4 Bad Research 81
5 Ignoring Problems 89
6 Getting Personal 103
7 Side Deals 117
8 Misusing Your Power 129
Pt. 3 The Four Shields 151
1 The Shield of Privilege 155
2 The Shield of Definition 171
3 The Shield of Process 179
4 The Shield of Relationships 193
Notes and Works Consulted 203
Glossary 205
Index 213
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INTRODUCTION: The Art of Suitproofing Everyone knows that there are too many lawsuits in the United States. Small companies often sue one another into bankruptcy. A typical large company has over 450 lawsuits going on at any given time. Thanks to the litigation explosion, legal costs are now running at 5 to 10 percent of earnings for some of the nation's biggest corporations.

People blame this situation on trial lawyers. And for salaries of $300,000 a year, they gladly accept the blame. In fact, trial attorneys usually tell the best lawyer jokes.

The best solution to the litigation explosion will not come from trial lawyers. Nor should it. Most trial lawyers are just doing their jobs. Politicians do not have the answers either. Many politicians are lawyers, and those who are not realized long ago that you cannot pass legislation to make people act more reasonably about filing lawsuits.

This book will turn the problem over to the business community -- from the corporate CEO to the hourly employee, from the entrepreneur-turned-company-president to the small-business person. The vast majority of business lawsuits, and the cost and disruption that go along with them, would be avoided if employees at all levels, in businesses of all sizes, simply took control of the situation.

This is a how-to book. In many respects, it is as basic and methodical as a book on how to remodel your house. The book shows executives, managers, and other conscientious corporate employees how to keep their companies out of court. Owners and employees of small businesses will learn how to avoid jeopardizing their companies. Employees of large companies will learn how to increase productivity by reducing or eliminating the cost and disruption that lawsuits inevitably cause. Moreover, whatever the size of your company, by learning the techniques described in the coming chapters, you will greatly advance your personal aspirations as well as those of your company. Understanding how to avoid lawsuits will improve your business judgment and sharpen your negotiating skills.

More important, in today's pragmatic, results-oriented, and downright cutthroat environment, you could seriously hurt your career by not following the principles described in the following chapters. Companies are no longer tolerating employees who make the kinds of costly mistakes that result in lawsuits. So by educating yourself to avoid lawsuits, you will advance your personal interests as well as those of your co-workers.

Let's cover for a moment the structure I will use for teaching you how to stay out of court. Most books on legal topics are organized by disciplines as they are taught to law students. They are divided into subtopics such as contracts, real estate, torts, labor, corporate transactions, etc. But this book is not for lawyers, and it is not really about law. Rather, it is a practical guide for business people who want to avoid lawsuits. Consequently, it is organized in a much more user-friendly manner.

In fact, this guide to suitproofing your business is structured more like a book on remodeling your house than a book on law. If you are going to remodel your house, you follow three basic steps. First, you get the raw materials -- brick, plaster, and the like. Then you make the structural changes -- knocking down old walls, putting up new ones, and replacing fixtures. Finally, you apply the surface protection -- grouting, painting, refinishing, and tuck-pointing.

Avoiding lawsuits is an analogous process, so the book is also divided into three basic parts. Part One explains why businesses place so much emphasis on avoiding lawsuits these days. It provides the basic understanding or raw materials that company employees and independent business owners need to fully understand the increasingly dangerous ramifications of lawsuits in today's bottom-line business environment.

In Part Two, we shall make the necessary structural changes to your company by identifying, and enabling you to correct, the Eight Big Mistakes that employees make that cause their companies to have to go to court. We will cover the mistakes made in several potentially dangerous areas, such as performing contracts, dealing with competitors, designing products, handling difficult employees, and addressing the problems that can lead to government audits and investigations.

In Part Three, we will apply the surface protection that makes your company virtually suitproof. We will put up the Four Shields that will protect you and your company from lawsuits. These are preventive steps that you can take to help make your company legally impenetrable. By adopting these powerful defensive tactics, you will make your company an extremely unlikely target for lawsuits. If everyone at your company consistently applies these defenses, you will save money on lawyers, create a more productive work environment, and enjoy your work more -- all of which will add to your profits.

Before we start knocking down walls and refinishing floors, however, let's get the raw materials -- a basic introduction to recent developments in the legal profession that will put the growing importance of avoiding lawsuits into context.

Copyright © 1998 by Thomas Schweich

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