Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top Tips for Resolving Disputes

 From an article in Australia but just as relevant to businesses in the U.S.   http://www.startupsmart.com.au/management/managing-people/2011-05-30/keeping-the-peace.html?displaypage=start

Top tips for resolving disputes

Write it down: from day one, you need everything documented. That means shareholder agreements, employment conditions and terms and conditions with suppliers and clients. Documentation is not only vital for resolving disputes, it can also nip them in the bud early on.

Have a clear business plan: having a comprehensive business plan can help minimise disputes. If you have a clear vision of what your business is, who you want to deal with and how you will cope with setbacks, it’s less likely that a disagreement will knock you off course.

Keep communication open: don’t cut all ties with a business that has wronged you, as tempting as it may be. “It’s better to get 50% out of them than nothing,” says Porter. “Keep talking in order to get what you can and then never deal with them again.”

Get a third party involved: a court clerk can act as a third party mediator, if needed [NOTE - not typically so in the U.S.]. If not, any independent person agreed by the warring factions can help take the heat out of the situation.

Don’t rush to the lawyers: as tempting as it is to splash out on legal help, it’s not always the best option. Once you start paying legal fees, you feel compelled to recoup this money, potentially pushing your further into an unwinnable case.
Is it worth it? It’s natural to want justice if you’ve been done over by a supplier or client. But it’s vital to weigh up the cost of the dispute versus the cost of pursuing it. If the time and money involved in the latter is higher than the former, consider chalking it up as a bad experience and move on. Just make sure you never deal with them again

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great Resources for Familes Post-Divorce

Though the title "Cyber Mediation" is a bit misleading - this article about on-line services routinely used by courts in 35 states to assist families post-divorce is very interesting.  The sites - http://www.ourfamilywizard.com/ and http://www.sharekids.com/ - offer calendars, message boards for parents and kids, expense logs, important contact info and places to scan and post important documents like report cards.  They are secure to the family, their lawyers and the court.  I will be checking these sites out and may recommend them in the right cases.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Words of Wisdom

"Mediation is often thought about as a last option. Yet it offers many more opportunities even for those with limited experience of it and should be used much earlier on to resolve conflict."  Good advice in all kinds of disputes.


Another Great Example of Peer Mediation in Schools

I wish all schools had a program like this.  We need to encourage our kids to learn how to resolve disputes in an appropriate and productive fashion. 


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Re-post: 10 Tips to Ruin Your Divorce Case and Waste as Much Money as Possible!

This post from the Ohio Family Law Blog was shared with me by a local family law/collaborative law attorney here in Birmingham.  Thanks Frances Nolan (frances@thecrittendenfirm.com) for sharing!


10 Tips to Ruin Your Divorce Case and Waste as Much Money as Possible!

Posted on April 2, 2011, by Robert L. Mues

Tip # 1
Organize nothing. Either bring none of your financial records or requested documents to your attorney’s office or court hearing, or bring all your financial records in a paper sack overflowing with miscellaneous papers.
Take no responsibility for any aspect of your case. Procrastinate getting documents together and ask your lawyer to handle even the simplest stuff because you don’t have time and, of course, money is no object.
Tip #2
Call your lawyer repeatedly, ideally several times a day, and ask the same question over and over and over again.  Never write down his or her response, and never follow the lawyer’s advice and instructions.  Ditto for your therapist.
Tip #3
Make sure you’re blinded by anger and surrounded by friends who agree with you completely. In fact, make sure your closest friends encourage you to get retribution by doing things like slashing your ex’s tires and throwing their possessions on the lawn.  Gossip nonstop to anyone who will listen, including strangers.
Refuse to see a therapist or reach out for help.  Continue to mine the unresolved relationship issues for tidbits that will inspire you to new levels of anxiety and revenge fantasies.
Tip #4
Hire the fanciest, sharky-est, most expensive lawyer in town even if you have few assets and mostly debts.  Be sure to call and complain and make demands every day.
Tip #5
If you owe your lawyer money, pay small sums at a time or nothing at all on your ever-growing bill.  Get into terse discussions with your lawyer about the additional work you’d like done while your over-due bill remains unpaid.  Make them chase you for their fees and threaten not to pay. You want to be sure that the entire office staff rolls their eyes when they see your file and that your lawyer gets in a bad mood every time he or she thinks about working on your case.
Refuse to pay experts like accountants and appraisers needed for your case until months into the process.  Force them to do their reports at the last minute, and be slow to get them required documents and slow to answer their questions.
Tip #6
If your relationship is deteriorating daily, be sure and continue to stay in the same house to save money.  As tensions escalate, threaten to call the police, and eventually call 911.  Flip a coin to see who gets arrested and spends the night in jail.  If you’re especially lucky, you both will.
Tip #7
Refuse to speak to your spouse except through attorneys. Don’t talk settlement until the court forces you to do so.  Say things like, “It’s the principal that matters!” particularly if you have a limited amount of money to spend on your divorce.
Refuse to think seriously about settlement proposals and just ask for everything.  Maintain that everything is equally important, from the $12 candle holders to your retirement plan.
Tip #8
Demand that your lawyer file as much legal paperwork as possible even if you don’t really understand its purpose or what it is. Keep giving your spouse a hard time and running up his or her legal bills as your top priority. Completely ignore the fact that you’re paying for this work, too.
Become paranoid and hire a private investigator to follow your spouse around even though you live in a state where fault either doesn’t matter at all or influences the settlement very little.  Never be satisfied that you know enough about your finances to make a good decision.  Just ask for more and more documentation even though you never review what was already provided.
Tip #9
Blame your spouse for everything. Maintain your martyr status by emphasizing all of the terrible things that have happened, while maintaining that you were (and are) completely innocent and oblivious. Revel in your victim status and tell anyone who will listen.
Tip #10
Go to court over even the smallest issue. File as many motions and requests for hearings as possible, and always refuse to settle anything in advance.  Spend your time milling around in the court hallway waiting for the judge to get to your case while he or she hears the 15 cases ahead of yours.  If you do decide to talk settlement while you’re waiting, be sure and nit-pick every detail, agree to an issue and then change your mind.  If you do settle in the hallway, make sure it’s last minute and written up hastily because you want to make sure that there are plenty of misunderstandings about interpretation and what your agreements meant later on so, that you can go back to court again. And again. And again.