If you’ve been in a lawsuit you may have wondered: “Why does litigation take so long? Is it just my case in particular?”
The answer is: a little bit of both. Litigation is a lengthy process, but the circumstances of your case could lengthen it even more.
Why litigation takes so long
There are several reasons why a lawsuit can take a long time from beginning to end:
- Procedural: Criminal cases go first. Courts are under constitutional deadlines for moving criminal cases, but not civil cases. Also, the rules of procedure, which apply to both large and medium size cases, require the parties to move through a sequence. Many of these steps cannot be skipped. Also, sometimes, your adversary has an incentive to use these rules to delay. This can be very frustrating.
- Resources: Court systems are often crowded and public funds often insufficient. Thus, all parties involved in litigation are subject to the limitations of government resources.
- Lawyers: You need a lawyer who will push your case aggressively. Lawyers who take on too much often fail to move quickly. Lawyers paid by the hour often have an incentive to turn molehills into mountains—more work can mean more pay.
If you want your case to move as quickly as possible, you can do the following: hire a lawyer whose incentives are aligned with yours and who will handle your case aggressively; explore litigation alternatives like arbitration and mediation, and make sure you get your lawyer the information he or she needs quickly. Do not be a chokepoint in the process. If you file a lawsuit, make sure your patience matches your tenacity. If you don’t, you are going to be frustrated.