Showing professionalism, effective networking, and knowing the ins and outs of a particular case have never been more important for collection agencies as they seek to fight the rising tide of lawsuits filed by consumers, many of which can be deemed as meritless.
That advice came from a trio of experienced outside legal counsels, as they discussed strategies and cases that can help agencies more effectively fight against meritless lawsuits. The speakers for the webinar, which was sponsored by WebRecon, were Shannon Miller of Maurice Wutscher, Joann Needleman from Clark Hill, and Mitchell Williamson from Barron & Newburger.
A copy of the webinar recording can be accessed here.
The importance of professionalism and networking come at a time when judges are getting “wary” at the increasing number of meritless cases filed by consumers against collection agencies, Needleman said during the webinar.
“It’s amazing how disrespectful some plaintiff’s attorneys can be,” Needleman said. “Sometimes, you just have to sit back and watch them implode.”
The somewhat obvious importance of knowing the details of a particular case is also becoming more important, Williamson said. It is becoming more common for plaintiff’s attorneys to now know everything about a particular case and not be able to answer simple, basic questions asked of them by a judge. Collection agencies have to know that a lawsuit is a war, not a battle, Williamson said.
“Its cumulative,” Williamson said during the webinar. “Be able to answer questions. Know your file. Know the complaint. All too often, plaintiff’s attorneys don’t know their files.”
Collection agencies sometimes have a difficult choice whether to collect on a debt owed by someone who has filed lawsuits against other agencies in the past. That process comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, Miller said.
“Maybe the safest avenue is to file a suit if the statute of limitations hasn’t expired,” Miller said. “That might be better than trying to send letters or make phone calls,” and run the risk of triggering another lawsuit.
The amount of the debt will also likely come into play, Williamson said, adding that a $300 debt might be overlooked while a $3,000 debt might be worth trying to collect.
“I’m loathe to tell someone now to collect,” Williamson said. “But cases like that do need special treatment. They need to be handled carefully, taken out of the regular mix.”
Whether to defend or settle a lawsuit is also a cost-benefit analysis that needs to be conducted, Needleman said.