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Art Neill on How Business Owners Should Navigate a Lawsuit

Scales of Justice

You've treated your customers well, you've worked with trustworthy vendors and suppliers, and your employees love you. You’ve even consulted legal counsel from the beginning of your business, and followed their advice.

But then it happens: a lawsuit.

In a series of co-authored articles for Forbes magazine entitled You Just Got Served, Executive Director of New Media Rights Art Neill addresses some of the most frequent issues that creative professionals and startups run into when a legal complaint gets filed against them or their company.

In Part One, Neill outlines the best approach to lawsuits and the first steps a business should take upon receiving a formal legal complaint.

“Lawsuits, especially your first lawsuit, can be scary, time intensive, and expensive and when it comes to litigation, it’s best not to go it alone,” writes Neill. “Not only do success rates tend to be dismal for individuals who represent themselves with no legal advice or assistance, but if you are a company you may not be allowed to represent yourself depending on where you’ve been sued.”

In the second part of the series Neill addresses some common pitfalls that small businesses and creative professionals run into when they are looking for legal representation.

“Today, as laws evolve and become more specific, attorneys are more likely to specialize in certain areas,” says Neill. “Even if an attorney comes highly recommended, if that attorney practices family law and you have a question about a YouTube takedown, you should probably find an attorney familiar with internet law and copyright law instead.”

Part Three covers the first stages of a lawsuit and what to expect moving forward.

For the most part, a lawsuit is not something that will be over quickly, explains Neill. The judicial process is necessary for getting complaints addressed that can’t otherwise be resolved. Along the way, however, there are a lot of people involved, pre-determined deadlines, and delays often occur.

“Lawsuits can get very complicated very quickly,” says Neill, who is a regular contributor to Forbes. “I hope these columns provide some basic information that will help creative professionals and startups avoid some common mistakes when dealing with a lawsuit, and to research some of these issues on their own or with their attorney.”

Read the complete series here:

New Media Rights, an independently funded program of California Western School of Law, is a nonprofit program that provides legal services, education, and advocacy for internet users and content creators. For more information visit: