Beyond Rock, Paper, Scissors
If anyone is able to go through business and legal affairs today without having a dispute, he or she should write his or her own book. You will find, unfortunately, that disputes about all sorts of things (most of which come down to money) are a part of everyday life. The impersonal nature of most business affairs today, the loss of civility we are seeing in our society, financial hardships, and too much lawyering are conspiring with other forces to bring this about. The information in this chapter won’t make this a kinder and gentler world, but it will make your life a good deal easier to manage. As a lawyer who spends a lot of time resolving disputes, I offer the ideas in this chapter not as some form of theory but as the result of a great many experiences.
Before turning to the subject of resolving disputes, it is important to discuss ways to avoid disputes. Some people seem to have a knack for not doing simple things that keep other people out of trouble. Unless you enjoy long and antagonistic disputes that could have been avoided—in which case, you are a very unusual person—it will be worth your time to review the checklist of easy steps that will keep you out of difficulty a lot of the time. For the most part, these steps are what you would do if you used common sense. The problem is that many people do not use common sense when it comes to disputes.
Checklist of Ways to Avoid Disputes
-Retain copies of your important documents
-Open all bank statements, bills, and other business mail promptly after you receive them
-Do not discuss disputes with people who are not working for you to resolve them
-Answer correspondence and telephone calls
-Do not contact a lawyer except as a last resort
-Do not sweat the little things