Beat Lawyers At Their Own Game

Deaver Brown, Author
Brown co-founded the Umbroller stroller company, American Power (APCC), and Simply Media. He published The Entrepreneurs Guide with Macmillan in hardcover and Ballantine in mass market paperback. He published a business series of CD-ROM’s with Macmillan and another series with Simply Media. Brown graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He has published numerous articles in trade journals and business magazines.

Copyright 2001 Simply Media, Inc. Lincoln, MA 01773-0481 www.simplymedia.com

About the Survival Kit Series
Our Survival Kits are designed to be quick, concise, and much easier to read than most reference books. As in true wilderness survival kits, the key to success is limiting your materials to the least amount of weight necessary. This provides users with fast, light, yet complete packs, and ensures easy travel without excess baggage. At Simply Media our hardest task is eliminating materials that are not absolutely necessary for traversing the subject’s territory. We take the time to make each of our Survival Kits as short and concise as possible so you can learn the most important facts with a fast cover-to-cover read.

About the Legal Survival Kit
The Legal Survival Kit pares down the huge amount of legal information available, and provides you with the essentials for your legal protection and planning. In the spirit of “less is more,” the contents are concise and divided into small individual categories for faster reading and better comprehension.

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Background
How We Got to Where We Are

These two rules have led to an explosion in American litigation. Well-financed lawyers can fund clients to prosecute. If the funded client loses, there is no financial consequence for the plaintiff in all but the rarest of cases. Is it any wonder, then, with these rules, that we have so much litigation in the US and other industrial countries so little? Other countries have these guys under control. These are the facts of life in the American legal world. The American Trial Lawyers Association is alive, well, and vigorously protects its privileges. It is the largest political PAC, with all the implications of that powerful position, protecting the interests of litigators and defenders. Remember that for every litigator there must be at least one legal defender, usually another lawyer.

American lawyers used to belong to an elite club that “did the right thing,” or so we thought. There have always been bad lawyers, ambulance chasers, and the like. Even Shakespeare said, “First, kill all the lawyers.” Of the major industrial countries, only the United States permits: (1) Contingency law suits. That is, the plaintiffs do not have to bear any costs other than a potential percentage award to the lawyer. (2) The loser does not have to pay the legal costs of the winner.

Your Role in the Legal World: Winner or Loser
In the current legal environment, you will either be the winner or loser in your legal affairs. As with most of us, you will sometimes win and other times lose. The objective of this CD-ROM is to keep you out of litigation and help improve the odds you will win if you become engaged in what has become a widespread American activity. 3

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Legal Survival Kit

com Legal Survival Kit . The office supply stores (e. address. other pertinent numbers (such as Medicare or Health Plan number). if you can. this should include their legal name. This means doing proactive things you may not need immediately (important but not urgent. at home or on the road. so you don’t break your back carrying your safe home. a category we all tend to ignore at our peril). 3. If you do not have a fire proof safe. trusts. it also usually provides for the insurance company to cover and manage all legal costs and activities—so you can get on with your life in relative peace and quiet. At work or at play. 2. Prepare and keep a separate document with the key facts pertaining to each individual and/or corporation and/or other entity you enter into these documents. Office Max. Set up a word document file where you save this information plus each form you create for later reference. social security number. If you wish to also keep this record elsewhere. Get additional umbrella liability insurance policy coverage. Do it! This Guide With Step-by-Step Advice Per Form We have provided you with this Guide in addition to step-by-step advice for each legal form. and the like. They cost about $150 each. we have provided specific advice for that form or letter in a “review list”. Get a home safe. get one and put these documents into them. and their on line affiliates) have them and will usually deliver at no charge. Notwithstanding that. dren’s information. chil- Action items: 1. 5. Review these forms and consider doing well care for yourself legally in advance of any prospective problems. This way. write out a schedule in which you will do them—and then do them.. Do this too. date of divorce if applicable. For individuals. Insurance: Umbrella Liability Coverage to protect you from the lawyers on the prowl You should consider adding an umbrella liability policy to your homeowner’s policy immediately to protect you from unforeseen lawsuits. Encourage other members of your immediate and extended family to do the same kinds of things. This not only protects you from additional losses should they occur. date of birth. do so too (duplication will only help you). medical instructions. 1. and Office Depot. 4 www. and these days. Our efforts are devoted to provide you the best advice and tools to avoid litigation and prevail if it should occur. You will give them a great gift by doing so.You cannot opt out since anyone can sue you for anything. 4. Staples.g. the following is generally useful when filling out the forms and letters. 2. You can get them cemented into your basement or into your floor for extra protection. that advice is specific to the form and not over generalized here. If you don’t do them immediately. An annual additional liability policy of up to $1 million often costs no more than $100 per year. and so on and so on. passport number. you are always vulnerable to legal attack. You should also keep a hard copy file of signed documents and your key fact documents. After each document.simplymedia. they often do. powers of attorney. such as wills. date of marriage.

is the fairest system people have yet invented. Clarence Darrow. said this long ago. is to provide you with a broad background of the legal system and suggest the appropriate tools to use when dealing with the legal system in general and lawyers in particular.” boldly than nonlawyers because they have been trained in the law. that is your tip-off to contact a lawyer for clarification and implementation.” or “uncertain” about anything discussed or presented in a legal form. have experience and feedback from their prior activities. We do not offer legal advice. and the rule of law. can benefit from prepackaged forms that can be edited upon demand. If you are not a lawyer. Self-help forms should never be used unless you are entirely confident of your actions. that democracy.com Legal Survival Kit . like you.” “worried. the great trial lawyer. said in various contexts.e. Your very act of selecting and completing certain documentation in advance of turning the matter over to an attorney will save them time and therefore save you money. Our primary objective in this Guide. one can complete that thought with Winston Churchill’s repeated comment.Introduction “You Have To Know The Law Well To Make It Work For You. with illustrative audios. you should restrict yourself to the simpler forms or fill out a form you need and then request a lawyer to review it on your behalf.simplymedia. “Do not make the mistake of confusing justice with the law. We offer personal and business advice about how to interface with 5 www. the forms) to expedite and formulate agreements for themselves and their clients. Our 600-form section is used by many practicing lawyers who. and therefore have a better sense of how to use these tools (i. although messy.” Finally. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes admonished a participant in a particularly ugly case. Lawyers can do this more Audio One: Introduction Tip: If you ever feel “concerned.

money. The primary purpose is to inform you of your options. This approach will save you time. you have seen nothing like the Trial Lawyers Association. especially if a complicated project is at hand. Did You Know? Japan. in this case a lawyer. and then have a lawyer review it. and permit the lawyer to focus on the legal issues. We all make great tools. They are the largest political action group (PAC) and reportedly can intimidate even the President of the United States. take his or her advice.com Legal Survival Kit . Our business advice to you is to select the form suitable to your needs. not the paperwork. except for the lawyers themselves who practice the trade. Not withstanding this restriction. 6 www. If your lawyer advises against the form. as well as make you better informed when discussing these matters with an attorney when you believe it necessary. as you believe appropriate.the legal system and the lawyers within it. unlike the US. they have effectively intimidated us. suggest pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to seek. The law is a means to an end. we believe the most important part of the law relates to how individuals and corporations use the tools of the legal trade. graduates more engineers each year than lawyers. and that is limited to business and personal advice. The legal trade union. If you think the Teamsters are tough at guarding their turf. Simply Media’s role is similar to Stanley or Black & Decker in the tool business. but we can only provide you with a limited amount of teaching instruction. It is not the end in itself. Then fill in the blanks. As in a construction project. and we only give business and personal advice in this CD-ROM. led by the Trial Lawyers Association. This Guide or Survival Kit is intended to guide you through the legal thicket. has prohibited us from doing so in any event.simplymedia. So. the tools are usually better used by a professional. Our purpose in this disc is not to give you “legal” advice.

Audio Two: The Purpose of Written Agreement Your Responsibilities To Others: What You Owe Them The leading cause of legal conflict is people 7 www. In fact. an agreement reminds us of what we agreed to in order to get what we wanted. written agreements are just as useful in personal as in professional or outside circumstances. On the simplest of levels. Written agreements are especially important among friends. of course. they realize they have undertaken obligations of repayment or return of property that they never really intended to execute. Written agreements identify these issues and can help resolve these problems. should serve to remind the other party of what they agreed to in order to receive what they wanted. in personal situations. most of us have wavering memories that favor our point of view. written agreements are often especially useful in personal situations because they clarify the terms of an exchange of money. in fact. then. Furthermore. unlike an oral contract. This may sound overly simplistic. such as the use of a piece of equipment. Once they realize the activity will be documented. and the world to see what the actual agreement was. just the request for a written agreement often dissuades other people from “borrowing” your money or property. A written agreement at least allows you.Written Agreements Their Purpose such as a loan to a family member. memory cannot alter the facts. The most practical benefit of a written agreement is that. In summary. or close associates because one of the best ways to lose a friend or other close associate is to loan him or her money or property. It also. but.com Legal Survival Kit . The most significant thing about a written agreement is that it clarifies what “you get” and what “they get”. family.simplymedia. or property. them. with the lapse of time it is much easier to forget our obligations to others.

in a poor economy. such as we offer in our Negotiations Handbook and Conflict Resolution discs. this often serves to inflame problems. For example. non-judgmental conversation can put the agreement back on track. es and overreach on behalf of their clients. At a minimum. This stems from both their training to be vigorous advocates and their compensation methods which relate to billable hours. they will usually become more amenable to discussing the issues you have with regard to the agreement. Even after litigation has commenced. If you approach this matter patiently. Even when litigation is undertaken. This difficulty usually arises because one or both parties ignore the reason the other party signed the agreement in the first place. Often. Try this approach if you can bring yourself to do so emotionally. Then determine if you can provide what they want in full or in part. if you wish to avoid legal problems. you are well advised to seek out advice about how to resolve these issues. the more the merrier for them but not for you. In simple terms. However. Above all. there will be time enough for the lawyers to try to settle the matter at a later date. discuss with the other party their interests in the contract. Why? Because the litigation process usuallyconsumes more time. both parties begin to point fingers at the other party and overlook their own responsibilities. you are advised to seek out the other party independently and try to negotiate a revised approach to your dealings first. people and institutions get more desperate to get what they want. the vast majority of cases are settled prior to trial. If a lawsuit breaks out. Lawyers tend to stir the pot when conflict aris- 8 www. identify what the other party wants. and money than the case is worth. Many times a frank. it is always imperative you understand the motivation of the other party so you can prevent legal conflict from arising.com Legal Survival Kit .and companies on one side of the issue or the other not recognizing their responsibilities under their agreement or agreements to the other party or parties. Therefore.simplymedia. they did not understand or did not properly review what they had to pay or do to satisfy the other party. emotions. This often changes due to circumstances related to the parties or the environment as a whole. try to keep in mind that it is usually in both party’s interests to resolve a conflict early. once the bickering begins. Audio Three: What You Owe Them Recommended approach: When conflict develops. As you do this. you should be able to alter the odds in favor of a negotiated compromise satisfactory to you. This reason is of “little” interest to the other party because this is not why “they” signed the agreement. the best hopes for a negotiated settlement remain with the parties who have the most to gain from prompt resolution prior to extended litigation and trial. Bite your tongue and stay calm. Therefore. it is important to try to openly discuss this point as if it is a common problem without assigning blame to the other party. When conflict arises over an agreement.

Better to use a “gotcha” clause as leverage to settle other issues. more people will attack you because of your own perceived weakness. The days of insurance companies rolling over. against insurance companies for example. Aside from this kind of suit. If you want proof of that uncertainty. such as note collections. they can’t or won’t pay and bankruptcy or other approaches will prevent you from collection). If you are pursuing collection against an insolvent.” Those with the money are more apt to stand and fight than ever before. Both sides must hire and pay lawyers. what seems certain in the law may not be enforceable in reality (i. some legal positioning can be useful to establish the value of the case. the parties would have been prudent to seek negotiating assistance instead of legal counsel. or financially shaky.You Don’t Say reassuring feeling if you are “relying” on a predictable outcome. Most suits are settled for a walk a way (no one gets anything) or considerably less than they would have gotten if they had settled early in the dispute. Once the people in black robes (judges) get a hold of a case. The increase in litigation has reduced organizations and individuals’ fear of the process.. “ The essence of freedom is the legal right to be left alone Justice William O. remember how often cases are overturned on appeal. judgment is not collection. Tricks and gotchas don’t help the plaintiff or stronger party in these matters as much as you might think. who are the ones who win because they get paid. “My Lawyer-Friend-Associate Told Me We Would Win” People often “take away” this thought from discussions with various people. most legal suits such as in divorce. Court often works very well for a defendant trying to get out of a “gotcha” clause. the results are indeed generally certain and you can proceed with relative certainty that you will get judgment. “Intent” or what the parties “meant” is very important as a mitigating factor. “They Have The Money And More At Stake. Not a Tip:: Court is a poor place to win back points you could not obtain in initial contract negotiations. you are in the legal gristmill and most results are uncertain. In some plaintiff cases. are long gone. Interestingly.simplymedia.” not “will. defendant. So They Must Settle On My Terms. the new conventional wisdom is if you don’t stand and fight.e. The more likely truth is that you were advised that you “could. Plaintiff lawyers went to the well once too often: individuals and companies have 9 www. On rare occasions.com Legal Survival Kit . So once again. This means that another set of judges disagreed with the first group. for example. of course. or other contract matters.” win. However. Douglas 1961 ” Justifications For Why You Will Win The Dispute Very rarely does anyone “win” a legal dispute. collection. In fact. you are usually better off with a negotiated settlement they are comfortable with to assure eventual collection. sometimes they do.

This may well be true for them. in fact.simplymedia. their entire banking relationship may be in jeopardy if you do not pay within 60 days. Without your having given in on that point in the initial negotiations.” They continue by saying. It is quite another to secure agreement on something they really cannot do. you may have thought. many people say. “But They Agreed To Do It!” Common Complaints In Disputes That Relate To The Problem Of Responsibility This section is about how you got into trouble. to unscramble these messes. the quarterback called this play once too often and now the defense is all over it! Tip: Since you know settlements values are down. In fact. and they felt they had no other option. Payment terms are examples of such clauses. You may have agreed to pay them in 60 days.learned. if you forced them into a corner. you can often work around it. “That Wasn’t Why I Signed The Agreement. What’s the big deal. But the point that you consider obscure or unimportant may be the very reason they did sign the agreement in the first place. Or. this is They may have agreed to do it. One side tries to bludgeon the other into agreement on points they really do not want to accept or cannot live up to. In other words. but wanted to pay in 90 days.” When a dispute arises. This is not legal advice. If this is understood early. Understanding how you got there should help you get out this time and hopefully not fall into the same trap next time. what may seem trivial to you may have been critical to them. Our purpose here is to advise and forewarn you in advance of ways to avoid these conflicts. 10 www. often the case in disputes. “That point isn’t important” or some other such comment. and their ultimate resolution through negotiation or the use of lawyers. they may have been only able to set up their payment plans to their own vendors strictly based on their securing your firm written commitment to pay in 60 days. but can do. But. they may have signed the deal and hoped to renegotiate out of this point later. you may be better off not making the agreement since it cannot be lived up to later. this is a quick practical approach. they may well not have signed the contract in question at all. You are much better off openly discussing these issues early and ensuring that the other party can live up to this part of the contract. In a football analogy. if you pay just thirty days late? Well. Lawyers are paid. If you cannot work around it. This section describes the personal and business reasons why you got to where you are in a dispute. “That wasn’t why I signed the Agreement.com Legal Survival Kit . Splitting the difference is usually the best approach since neither side loses face. It is one thing to get commitment on something they do not want to do. Note: This also may be part of the “gotcha” school of negotiating. promptly. consider taking less. and paid well. It is not about what the legal ramifications of your case or potential case are.

Start with reconsidering your objectives. if granted. You may eventually prevail in court. So. why do lawyers write long contracts? Because they are paid by the hour and keep thinking they will “help” their client by piling on more language. Your next step is to suggest a time out. As a defendant. and conduct. As a civilian. Well known “boiler plate” or standard language helps your case because the Court “knows” what it means. or a “judgment. In addition. you may not collect on your judgment. disregarding the flashing yellow lights. And. or nonlawyer. If you want to keep doing business together. even if you get it. then hardball legal tactics rarely work well. or according to what it actually says. It is a lot harder to get out of an agreement than into one. you should use your business skills to determine whether the defendant can in fact pay. being overruled on appeal. to-the-point contracts help here. just as schools do. often introduce contradictory language that defendant lawyers love to jump on and use against the plaintiff. The potential winner focuses on the actual words. a lot more judgments are granted than collections made. But you undoubtedly will have a lot of costs and heartburn along the way to this resolution. while the parties rethink their positions and try to understand the other side’s position. or for a host of other reasons.Warning sign: You pressed hard on certain points and got their commitment.” without giving proper weight to the probability of collection of an award. Ambiguity is what the potential “loser” tends to emphasize. worse yet. even if you achieve it. What The Agreement Should Say For Your Benefit In adjudicating (deciding) a case. The longer the contract. has a habit or ability of wiggling out of judgments. and the like. The Court tries to interpret the agreement “strictly”. In sum. They focus almost exclusively on a court victory. and/or keep the relationship in tact. They told you “we are going to have a hard time with that” but you pressed forward anyway.simplymedia. fear them! Reconsider Your Position Rarely does anything work as well to calm tensions and set the tone for a solution than an apology and offer to the other side to reconsider your position. Before becoming a plaintiff. be sure you have a solvent defendant with a habit of paying when they lose. this uncovers a major weakness most lawyers have.com Legal Survival Kit . Short. pray for long contracts and as a plaintiff. consider whether the legal effort is worth the 11 Common Approaches in Disputes: Negotiations to Hardball tactics Audio Four: Common Approaches That Can Help www. the better the chance to find a loophole. In fact. the Court first looks at exactly what the agreement states. in the end. Usually longer contracts tend to obscure the core agreement and. and thereby seeks “strict construction” of the language. due to defendant insolvency. Do not rely on a legal document to trap or compel the other party to live up to terms they have warned you are burdensome. written terms.

Effort to extinguish conflict early can produce surprisingly good results for both parties.cost. your challenge is to figure out whether you are dealing with reasonable or hardball people. of the “hard ball” school of negotiations. Deaver Brown. 12 www. and counterclaims have been filed. town boards. hazardous conditions. In fact. dangerous equipment. takes you out of this arena of perceived weakness. Author ” This section deals with such actions as interpreting agreements and defending your interests with the most appropriate methods. Much Trouble Can Be Avoided Difficult neighbors. does not mean the trend will continue. If the other side starts out reasonably. with both sides’ stakes in the ground. seeking a session after complaints. So. Now you can see what can be done. Conflict is more easily enflamed than extinguished. quickly move for a negotiation session to see if a resolution can be reached. conflict. Then you can proceed accordingly. If they start out tough. barking dogs. This part also suggests ways for you to minimize and avoid expense. subordinates. Interesting point: Very few negotiations fall into the middle ground of balanced discussions and approaches. The worse your case.” So. employees. You can make up a lot of lost ground by acting properly with regard to the agreement in dispute and noting how your opponent is not.com Legal Survival Kit . Why? Because you have both proven how tough you are. and trouble. the potential loser can use this human tendency to sit on the lead and be sloppy to reduce their ultimate damages and even pull out a victory in the end—just like a come behind win in sports! If Inevitable. Get Advice Promptly It is under this circumstance that lawyers are the most useful. When your opponent gets ahead. Just because you are right or wrong up to this point.simplymedia. not as “cute” or “subtle” as they think and often telegraph their intentions early on. or answer their complaint. forgetful. you can often resolve the matter easily. Invest In Your Initial Answer And Counterclaims Now is the time to plan your defense and counter-attack. and then. answers. dissension. Early compromise to avoid litigation is often seen as “weakness. relatives. you know that you have to prepare for litigation. If You Think Litigation is Inevitable. Often the best solution is to file suit. It is no different than in sports situations. Contrary to what many lawyers think. and lazy. bosses. the more important it is to mitigate your damages to minimize the ultimate negative result. they tend to get confident. Your first step should be to consult your lawyer vigorously about options. they are Defensive Actions You Don’t Say “ The shortest distance between two points is rarely a straight line in the law.

inheritances. contracts. weak. or onerous agreements. In many situations. Maneuver around to get a new boss or subordinate. If the letter is from a collec- tion agency. Work on these issues continuously and you will be surprised at how they ease away or at least the decibel level is reduced. essentially. So this circumstance gives you one key advantage: the other side knows they are “lying” by saying it is worse than they will settle for. you cannot simply run out the door or leave town. It is well known. Head off trouble early and you will benefit handsomely at a much lower cost. it is usually from a collection lawyer who is also usually empowered to settle a claim for something less than face value. So. duck. Give the big dog away or don’t get a new one. 13 www. or agreements. When Trouble Calls In The Form Of A Legal Letter Recognize and internalize immediately that you have already “lost” something because you are involved and were not able to head off the problem earlier. Even most lawyers don’t expect it to work very well since it has become so common and familiar. The best single piece of advice is given under the section in the text entitled your inalienable right to back up and away from problems. If not. Turn down the radio or chain your dog for the neighbor. you can substantially adjust your activities and. Small appeasements can go a long way. they are usually empowered to settle claims for at least 33% off the face value. contracts. keep reading. Resign from a troublesome town or nonprofit board or appease them. you usually are not dealing with the A team here. agreements. The most difficult issues relate to events that cannot seemingly be changed: boundary lines. Therefore. Visualize a simple image: It is a lot easier to dam up the Mississippi at the headwaters in Minnesota than when it is a mile wide in Missouri. teenagers. or other straightforward matters that you can promptly comply with if you so chose. divorce settlements. This kind of letter details how bad it is going to be for you if you do not do everything they want you to immediately. Keep this in mind if you can settle the matter with cash.com Legal Survival Kit . you have the moral high ground and can use it to settle for less. though. such as keeping your dog chained up or quiet. then you need to consult a lawyer promptly for advice as to how to proceed.teenagers on the loose. complying with a zoning law. and is not a simple request for information. Over time. Good lawyers do not generally involve themselves in collection matters you would be involved in other than large corporate matters. Ease out the difficult employee. or other relationships are everywhere in most of our lives. But you can reduce or mitigate your damages or problems by decoupling. If the letter is about anything but straightforward collections. or forbearance. stepping back.simplymedia. The Tough Guy Letter. or simply getting out of the way. work relationships. This is a standard off-tackle play these days. or settlements. Praise the difficult relative to others so it gets back to them. Make contingency plans for poor. Audio Five: So You Got a Legal Letter If the letter is from a lawyer.

But. At this stage. Eric Hoffer. They must first use the court process to get a judgment that they can later convert into a lien. and you break the plan. OK. As a result. see the lawyer.simplymedia. consider a settlement for a partial payment with no bad impact on your credit history with the company in question. get a lawyer. or have a good chance of it. Virtually all of us “know” when we are late on a mortgage or car payment. When dis- cussing with them what you “can” do. see a lawyer. Sometimes you can even set up a payment plan. If not.com Legal Survival Kit . If so. This is especially true since most of them are on contingency. or up to date again. Then they can apply the lien to something you own. Only you can determine whether you can get current. if not. if they won’t reconsider their position. That may help. they are usually vulnerable to giving up more. Collection agencies generally get 25% to 50% of what they collect. deal. They have no lien or asset to repossess. Ask them again. they have all the leverage and all the advantages. in this circumstance. to 50% or less. explain that you must now see a lawyer about how to deal with the problem. You Don’t Say “ You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you. and believe a collection agent is in your future. see a lawyer. Collection Letter—Unsecured Debt You have most of the advantages in this circumstance. Remember that if you can pay. which means they only get paid a percentage of what they collect. wonderful. work out the best payment plan you can and contact them to see if it will be acceptable to them. without accrued interest or fees. You “know” the problem. go back to the lawyer option again. is your ally because they benefit from a quick settlement—which gets them a quick commission. These circumstances provide you with substantial leverage to renegotiate your debt. This is a long expensive process that no collection agent or lawyer wants to undertake. Philosopher and Longshoreman ” Tip: If you are having trouble with an unsecured debt such as a local contractor or a credit card bill. you do not want to commit to an unrealistic payment plan. 50% to 75% will generally do it. if you see 14 www. it will count against you with the collection agency or lawyer and they will only attack more vigorously on their next contact with you. If in doubt. If you haggle a bit. remind them of this problem of potential broken promises—and you do not want to go down that road nor do they want you to do so. live up to it and try to regain your financial footing. If so. If it is not acceptable to them.Collection Letter—Asset With a Lien Such As a Mortgage or Car Financing If it is about an asset they have a lien on such as your car or house. If not. generally. If you can. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself. you can often reduce the face value of your debt. If you do. So the firm that “owns” your debt has already given up to some extent. especially if convinced to do so by the collection agent or attorney who. or not. consider carefully exactly what you can pay and when you can do it. If you truly cannot pay.

Take a check with you. Pay the bill if you feel nervous.a lawyer you have to pay more than the value of the bill. “ask for help and enforcement”) on these grounds. in layperson’s language. as in most cases. Use this advice prudently and you should be able to save yourself some money in Small Claims court. Courts will decide to intervene promptly by providing an injunction or restraining order in the case of extreme behavior such as egregious conduct. Be sure to line up the counter claims. The presence of a check will usually encourage the other side to take a lesser amount. 15 www. and interesting points. If that does not work out. write down the issues—their pluses. How Courts Approach And Interpret Agreements Courts check out two things prior to applying the laws to your case: What did the agreement state? What did the parties mean or intend? Audio Seven: The Court’s Approach And Interpretation Audio Six: PMI Thinking Before you see a lawyer regarding litigation.com Legal Survival Kit . They will usually let you try to work out the matter with an arbiter first. or place of the lawsuit. Venue. No matter what the claim. Notwithstanding that fact. Collection Call Same situation as described in the collection letter sections above. with you using the advice above. There are upper limits on the claims that can be brought against you in Small Claims court. the expense of hiring a lawyer usually exceeds the amount of the claim itself. over-reaching. you can usually get a broad release—for even broader than the single claim—especially if you bring the check. When You Are Sued Get a lawyer—except for small claims court where you will usually do better answering complaints yourself. Although most litigants pray for relief (i. This small investment can often pay a substantial dividend for you in either negotiating your claim with an arbiter at small claims court or with the judge. Law is politics. or lawless activity. negotiate or see a lawyer. you will be forced to present your case to the judge sitting in court that day and he or she will determine the outcome. These claims usually cannot exceed $2000. can be very important for these purposes. Therefore. Small Claims Court They will encourage you to negotiate. Courts are reluctant to enter into these types of immediate enforcement activities and generally do not act until a trial is conducted (or. making it more productive to do the claim yourself. minuses. the parties reach a settlement). Occasionally.e. you can often do well to run your “defense” and potential “counterclaim” by your attorney to get their quick read on the matter.simplymedia. Otherwise.

simplymedia. Dealing with intent of the parties is a more complex task. For those that Republicans are apt to favor. as one can tell by a casual reading of newspapers. In a Republican state. judges would be more likely to uphold the landlord (property rights).com Legal Survival Kit .of course. This is not a perfect solution since lawyers often are able to persuade judges to “go behind” the written agreement. The best way to beat this approach is to use a short agreement with the Entirety of the Agreement clause. Action Item: In your agreement. The weaker party in a conflict generally relies on this approach the most. unless it is written down later and signed by both parties. The best antidote is to write in a clause commonly referred to as “Entirety of Agreement. 90% of discovery and the associated costs prior to trials relate to discovering what the intent was and what every one “meant. be sure to establish the venue. Just two examples: in a heavily Democratic state like Massachusetts. in layperson’s language this means. No change can be made except in writing and signed by both parties. Why? Because “What the Agreement Says” works against them. we write in New Hampshire. ___________ state and in no other venue. “If it isn’t written down here.” 16 www. but it is generally the best you can do. For issues that the Democrats favor.” This clause typically states that the Agreement embodies and sets forth the full understanding and agreement between the parties and nothing can be changed except in writing. we write in the venue as Massachusetts. or place for resolution. it doesn’t apply. we have locations in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. liberal causes such as those of tenants (the disadvantaged) will usually be heard with more favor than in a Republican state. In our case at Simply Media. So. Clearly this is a murky area subject to much conjecture and questioning.” The recommended language for your agreements to cover these two issues (venue and intent) is: “This Agreement embodies and sets forth the full understanding and agreement between the parties. in ________ county.” In simple terms it means “what did you really mean” when you signed the agreement. in the jurisdiction apt to be most favorable for your cause. Any disputes must be brought in__________city. the court is more apt to make a finding in favor of a tenant in Massachusetts and a landlord in a Republican state.

they intend to receive the money or property and then unilaterally .simplymedia. where. “No. and if they will make any repayment of any kind. some day they will repay the grantor. This attitude usually comes about because the potential recipient is used to receiving “gifts” or their equivalent from the grantor.” The best answer is.Agreements between Friends or Relatives have the ability to decide when. It is not as obvious in the case of friends.com Legal Survival Kit Audio Eight: Agreements Between Friends Financial and legal agreements between friends and relatives are the most challenging ones to discuss.. and enforce. “It has nothing to do with trust.. The requesting party may think that somehow. The very process of discussion can flush out intent and usually lead to a productive solution. but.” about repayment or return of rental property. For example. If we write it down. or.. once a line is repeated several times it loses its original 17 www. like the old game of whispering around the table. it has to do with clarity. you should use the document creation process as a means to flush out what the parties really mean. create. in fact. we will remember it clearly. In your discussion of these subjects. “a meeting of the minds. In these cases. Memories serve to change events. and younger people without longer business and/or life experience. Commonly asked questions are: “Why do we need an agreement? “Don’t you trust me?” These lines tend to back us off. a request for a loan or a rental is often just a plea for a gift. The natural response is to say. This is quite clear in the case of children and poor relatives. I do trust you and. business associates. it is even more important for the parties to have what they term in the law.

And. Stock Investments with family.” Often this kind of discussion causes the potential recipient to drop their demand entirely. repayment dates. Since they never really intended to repay the loan they have requested nor pay for the rental they wanted. and anticipated payments in the situation.meaning. businesses involving these kinds of parties should be formalized and stock certificates issued. collateral backup. Memorializing the agreement compels all of the parties to set forth their purpose. one of us might not even be around to explain the matter. To minimize your potential financial and emotional losses in the matter. If they make a silly recommendation on a specific term or terms. Then gird your loins as you go into battle to hammer out the most reasonable and prudent terms you can. collection expense recovery clauses. friends. of course. a death. let the potential recipient set the terms initially so you have the least to haggle about. or sale occurs and “other” 18 Legal Survival Kit You Don’t Say “ Never make the mistake of confusing justice and the law. The risks in family/friend/business associate loans and rentals. referred to earlier. are due to the fact circumstances change (e.simplymedia. then you can put the request into standard promissory note or rental agreement format with the appropriate interest rates. they do not want to enter into a formal agreement so will often walk away from it entirely when confronted with your requirement to sign a formal agreement. liquidation. and business associate loans and rental agreements. as well as stock investments. and business associates As with family.. expected compensation. so that if the parties later dispute the division of the stock and roles within the company the resolution process can be as straightforward as possible. usually just a lifted eyebrow will get the terms into the right “ballpark. friend. If the demand is not dropped. 1906 ” www. Your best move is to give them room to retreat and avoid moral spin so they do not feel belittled and humiliated by the process and their own retreat.com . Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. if you get to the point of negotiating this kind of agreement. Jr. is to request them to lay out all of the terms them- selves so they “own” the agreement and its repayment and collection terms. It is especially important that stock agreements include the Entirety of the Agreement clause. At other times. you will be well ahead of the game.” These arrangements are never easy and certainly worrisome. Our final suggestion. Sometimes the party investing the initial or follow on money has financial setbacks and “needs” the money back. a shareholder wants his son or daughter to be employed by the company on the sole basis that they are a stockholder).g. and the like. Under either alternative. always keeping in mind that if they “walk away” from the entire matter that is usually the best result.

and provide a solid and agreeable exit position should the stockholders descend into contention. a written promissory note documented in corporate records resulted in the loan being promptly repaid by the new owners right on schedule without intervention by any lawyer. if not more frequently. or what the company is “worth. you are well advised to update your stockholder agreement and buy sell agreement on a regular basis. the stock agreements should provide for a straightforward exit position if contention breaks out and no one party has clear majority control. 19 www. as is referred to in government perks. This is just one example of how the written agreement can assist all parties without being abusive of any of them. trustees. One of the most contentious areas in family businesses relates to whom or which “side” will get plum corporate jobs and the accompanying pay scales. In one such case involving a family loan to my first company.parties. Finally. It is our experience and recommendation that initial stock agreements should expressly state that stock ownership is separate from corporate management. set up a suitable agreement. as long as you had it in place to start with. A buy sell agreement works well to establish a clear exit path should certain spec- ified conditions take place such as no clear majority being in accord on a course of action.com Legal Survival Kit . Just the process of offering a company for sale often makes all of the parties more realistic if the offers received are far less than the insiders believe the company is “worth. you should be able to negotiate a reasonably satisfactory buy/sell solution. in pork. You should try to do this at least once every five years.” At that point. A second approach is to provide for an orderly sale process of the enterprise with the funds to be received divided up among the shareholders.simplymedia. if contention breaks out.” Buy sell agreements usually require this approach to establish fair market value. Tip: This kind of stockholder agreement requires the use of the best attorney you can afford to extract the facts. Since circumstances change rapidly these days. such as heirs. Dividends should be paid in cash not corporate jobs or. or administrators are involved.

and what is your walk away position. they rarely help them speed up the collection process if something goes wrong.Business Agreements Lending institutions are always cramming these documents down borrowers’ throats. you should first establish a term sheet. So. Institutions never seem to learn this lesson. This is why many large companies refuse to deal with very small companies or individuals in many areas. Term sheets are an outline of a proposed agreement. and a simple agreement. a lien (if possible). interestingly. watch your lawyer use the length of the agreement against them. These are useful to prepare before entering a negotiation so you know what you want. Unrealistic expectations lead to many problems. This does not mean a Court will “let you out of it. and a simple agreement. The best deal for the institution is really a note. More documents than that usually results in it appearing that the lending institution had an unreasonable amount of power and “forced” the agreement.simplymedia.” It merely means that lots of documents do not help the stronger party.com Legal Survival Kit Audio Nine: Business Agreements Before drafting an Agreement. what you will accept. Term sheets tend to eliminate many of these problems by allowing you to work out carefully your options and then having a reference point when you get into the heat of negotiations. If a lender or powerful party goes after you. . The risk is primarily to the stronger party. The problem with contracts is they draw you into liabilities. and yet. it is the stronger party that usually demands the agreement. a lien. They are rightfully fearful of the “intent of the parties” consequences of their actions or other extreme positions that the weaker party might charge them with and might just stick in Court. Again: Business advice. Counter-intuitive but true. get a note. Yet. 20 www. when someone owes you money.

This back door lets you at least cut your losses should conflict arise. If you are named individually in such a suit. As long as you observe the proper corporate formalities.The simpler the contract. and other simple financial instruments reflecting actual indebtedness). As with all layers of protection. You can click here to order your new stationery at an affordable price (the same company does checks and stationery). You can get the latest form off the IRS site at irs. You can order the checks by filling out the attached forms.com Legal Survival Kit . notes. envelopes to give you the appearance of corporate respectability to go along with your formal incorporation. you must call to get your Federal ID number by filling out that form. but they all help. Tip: Every business agreement should have a well-defined exit position. and 21 www. to give you the aura of being a going concern. long contracts suggest a substantial relationship and open you up potentially to very intrusive and expensive investigations in many Court encounters. stationery. They are specialists in the field so offer the best service at the lowest price. On the other hand. You should also order business cards. the less likely a Court will ascribe “broad” relationships to it. You should set up a separate phone and fax line. Click “Incorporate Your Business” on the main screen to get the forms to make this happen. as this one does.gov. In addition. appearance counts. You should aggressively seek a “give up” clause so you can get out (other than with mortgages. no single approach is perfect. you can rarely be sued successfully on a personal basis. Once you do this.simplymedia. Incorporation Incorporation protects you personally from litigation. So do it! Tip: The best way to incorporate is through the Company Corporation that does 1 out every 7 incorporations in the US. your lawyer can generally get you removed in a quite straightforward way. as well as email address (under AOL it can just be another screen name). you should then set up a Business Checking account. In the corporate and legal world.

wills. when the parties get personal. Try to remove the personalities from the settlement or litigation process as soon as possible. and divorces are infamous for their ugliness. debilitating.” Audio Ten: Personal Litigation Personal litigation can be particularly nasty because it involves things and people so close to you. do not let your lawyer do this. in our experience. Boundary Line. At a minimum. Boundary lines.com 22 . Warning: We have observed that lawyers are beginning to take their cases more personally too.Personal Litigation as possible after the rupture. These only get “nasty”. recently. “I am too personally involved in this as you may be too. and linger for decades. actual litigation will tend to uncover it and the Court may well see the bias that led the matter not to settle. “I never have a suit that isn’t personal. One great litigation lawyer pointed out to me though. They can be very bitter.simplymedia. A little humility here can go a long way. this approach serves to contain the problem so things are less explosive and you don’t create the family situation where no one is speaking to one another. Legal advice says you may win. Why don’t we get a different person on each side to deal with this. You can say such things as. Neighbor Disputes Business advice suggests selling and moving. However. No one wins these. You rarely hear about a nasty trademark or promissory note dispute. Personal advice says Legal Survival Kit Tip: Try to keep conflicts as impersonal as possible so you can heal the rift as soon www. more people have been taking these “personally” too. At a minimum. If the other lawyer does this.” So beware of contributing to the problem yourself.

” At least with wills. and cars off their property.com Legal Survival Kit . Third. “The worst legal problems are boundary lines and wills. set up trusts for your children for up to the other half (if the surviving spouse remarries your children become “step-children” and Cinderella told us all about how that works out) with the executor being a banker or third party. about who is tougherstronger-righter. Part of the solution is to care less about what the other side thinks. Wills Audio Eleven: Wills that at a minimum.” Secondly. You may be surprised by what you hear. First.You Don’t Say “ The law cannot make a man love me. Tell them that you “are sure they want to keep balance in the relationship as well. We all need to get over it. do not put too much pressure on the process of drawing up a will by trying to anticipate all of the events for the rest of your life. drawing up a will every three to five years makes perfectly good sense. you “know” your family. This is an obvious point but many people just slough it off saying. or other item loaded with personal memories and feelings. A good way to remember to do 23 www. Every family has stories about the great probate fight that centered on the piano stool. It may save people close to you tons of trouble later.” and find a way to soften the situation. engage and talk to them occasionally to calibrate what they are up to. and indirectly about how you are doing with them.” This is business advice about human nature. you have finality in that some conclusion will result and. Superstition is the major problem for most of us. Tip: In this age of divorce and remarriage. to a large extent. pets. Try to correct what you can—which will lighten your load if a legal problem arises later. Martin Luther King. things can rapidly escalate out of control due to differing value systems and a lack of family bonds to cover over some of the bad feelings and disputes. In this fast changing world. Even lawyers avoid making wills for themselves. try to get out of the “way. Also. With neighbor problems. be polite and conciliatory without being a doormat. and I think that’s pretty important. “They don’t mind. As one old time lawyer told me.simplymedia. friends. keep your children. 1962 ” what they are thinking about. there are many things you can do to limit your exposure and upset. This is not about “trust.” They may well be boiling inside and when the pot boils over you will not be happy. Make the will. but it can keep him from lynching me. suggest that they reciprocate in some way so you can keep the relationship balanced. Having said this. If a neighbor asks for something above the normal or outside of the context of your relationship. Most of the changes will be minor adjustments. give your spouse half (usually legally required). summer cottage. and move on to other issues in your life.

The mechanism is to provide a final percentage division for all of these objects. the benefits both increase and decrease according to the actual received income of the parties. furniture. as Ogden Nash once said. fill out the forms but be sure to use a lawyer. Use a form such as ours to draft your intent. This is easier said than done because of all the emotion attached to the children. especially lower and middle class women. if you can. and 50 years later the Koreas are still not reunited. Otherwise the lawyers will get what little there is. It worked splendidly in my family to ward off battles over the silverware. But no one may be willing to pay $10 for it out of his or her proceeds from the auction. A more modest approach towards the scope of the will. So. Real Estate Trusts Real Estate trusts for your private residence or residences are a good idea in this litigious age. Without taking sides. and similar items. the property. It also tends to discourage plaintiff lawyers because it prevents the quick kill of an attachment against your property that they might be able to use to make you settle up on another matter entirely. Everyone else loses. Tips to the Losers (Except For Husbands Of The Winners) Go easy on each other. if you have not done it already. They can make out well. But.this is to do it every time you get a new license or on every 5th reunion of a high school or college class. Most divorces squabble about the kids. just the next five years. and the old relationship itself. 24 www. will give you more courage to get it done and then revise it periodically. Divorce Audio Twelve: Divorce Tip: Provide for an auction of all questionable value items. and careful. and get battered and scarred. give it to a lawyer to memorialize. remember that you are entering treacherous territory here and must therefore be doubly cautious. It means that litigants in other matters cannot “attach” a lien or prejudgment attachment against your property. Split the property and move on. the kids become like Korea. It is important. Again. Bookshelves would collapse if all the books published on divorce in just one year were stacked on them. Do it now. This process usually works to turn down the heat and get the Estate liquidation process moving. vigilant. above all. It only takes one person to start a fight. Then each party can use their “percentage currency” to acquire what they want or bid above the limits with their own cash. our business advice is to take note of the following: Winners in Divorce The only definite winners are some female members of the upper middle class and upper class. That way. Both sides may benefit from Court enforced child support.com Legal Survival Kit . Everyone may “want” the piano stool Mom sat on. This is especially true for sentimental items. an ounce of prevention here can save you having to pay a pound in cure later.simplymedia. These areas require indepth thought and experience to determine the best ways to proceed. As with estates or wills.

if you lose your job. The only question is. If you have children near 18. Consider this like a 5 on 3 penalty in hockey. This is also good business advice for any case where you are the potential big time loser. Courts are tough on making people go back to work and “try” to earn a living (i. You Don’t Say “ The law is only one of several imperfect ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse.Advice to the Former Husbands of Winners Understand you are going to lose. Then nothing lingers as long. they would force the potential winner out of the old emotional zone and get them moving towards a new life. Do not make the mistake that many men do in this situation and be tempted to hold on to the soft assets and hard debts while giving up the hard assets and soft debts.e. If more husbands of winners forced the sale of the marital home. So if there are no minor children under 18.simplymedia. the potential winner). consider long and hard whether you don’t want to wait until they are 18 before you start a divorce proceeding if you are one of these husbands. ask about the 5 on 3 penalty situation. Make child support dependent on your annually earned actual income. So the potential winners usually only score big-time when minor children are involved. Joan Lunden had this happen to her. Vaclav Havel. Try to keep your cool and remember that owing the money may be outrageous. The power is yours. It might just get you to holster your weapons. there is rarely a problem. Ouch. Try to get physical custody for some period of time or you may never get it at all. but every little discount helps. there is no $50 card here to get you out of jail. especially the marital home. not the division of community property. Before launching into such an attack yourself. Try to limit child support to the shortest period possible. Child (Mother) support is where the real potential problem is. off to jail you may go—and this isn’t Monopoly. You are better off selling and splitting most assets. Some winners love to hear the jail door slam on their ex-husbands despite the consequences to the children and their relationship with their children. They will score many points if given enough time. you should read up on the Joan Lunden story. Tips For the Winners This is one area lawyers perform magnificently. Prime Minister and Playwright ” 25 www. You need no advice from us other than to decide how much pain you wish to inflict. It changed her mind about this stuff after she was attacked—and got whacked. how many times? If you don’t know hockey.com Legal Survival Kit . Otherwise. Always work to minimize the amount of the damage award and the time period you must keep paying.

coach. Or what happens on. Let’s go over some things to help you. town board member. It is important. including. and any other risks to others.simplymedia. Think hard and make an exhaustive list of all such activities in which you participate. or with your property. Audio Thirteen: Review Your Exposure You can do a lot to protect yourself. This is not just as a doctor or lawyer.. Examples include being a human helper to others: all kinds of risk exposure for you here. Pay directly yourself what you can afford to lose—it is much cheaper in the long run. The fact you are reading this is a major step forward. attractive nuisances. you are better off with a high collision deductible but spending the savings on 26 Review Your Areas Of Exposure Exposure relates to what you or your spouse do. Make a list relating to these three categories: what www. animals. teacher. and other agreements related to your situation (e. volunteer driver. to. real estate trust (s) for your property (ies). trees.com Legal Survival Kit . health care stipulations). Insurance The best rule for insurance is to insure for what you cannot afford to lose. your minor children. with car insurance.Three Steps To Take To protect yourself activities do you or your spouse participate in. or items relating to your property. Be sure to get the home safe and umbrella liability policy referred to in the Background section.g. Property issues relate to hazards. a slip and fall accident to a door to door salesperson). So. What your minor children do. believe it or not. and various other related activities. business agreements. Do it. but as a business advisor. Be sure to set up the basic protections such as a will.

taking your children’s friends on trips. the same rules apply. But. Alan Dershowitz. Figure out which areas are most liable to be attacked. After that you will have to work harder to bring the remainder in. You may not be able to get the other party to sign up. Choose an anniversary date such as New Year’s.simplymedia. “ The defendant wants to hide the truth because he is generally guilty. to determine which ones. Think of yourself as the proverbial librarian calling in all of your overdue books. in a year or so you will have eliminated. 1982 ” Make a date with yourself to do this once a year. you should review your activities. In business and your personal life. At a minimum. and that is usually half the battle. Get A Legal Check Up Get a legal check up with a good lawyer. Trial Lawyer. getting large umbrella liability policies to cover extraordinary damages. be cautious about all of your business activities but be sure to have a large product or service and employee liability policy or policies. Put the date on your calendar and stick to it. and those of your family. Perhaps you should reconsider serving on town boards. The first round of 27 www. In homeowners insurance. your birthday. and so forth. most of your liability. if any. or at least limited. If you do this now. Be sure to memorialize your outstanding “oral” agreements that could use certification. or some other such day.You Don’t Say effort will produce most of the results. Give them a list of the areas of exposure you worked on earlier. This is a warning sign itself. being a coach.com Legal Survival Kit . should be modified or eliminated. at least you know what you have to work at.

as I get older. It is OK to give up. I don’t want to make it worse. I am no pro at this. So. So far they haven’t attacked anyone except for Tibet in their own borders. let’s be smart. Result: You have one less problem in your life. walk away. Lenin. retreat. you can say. A few examples that have worked for me: You are a volunteer coach on a team. If people are too difficult.simplymedia. A question: If Stalin. Castro became pretty tame once he reached 65. your humility should impress your boss and include him or her in the decision to take conservative action. Now. and various terrorists had been in their 70’s. What if we really do blow it some day. in front of witnesses. What they do emotionally is distance themselves from trouble and troublesome situations. they learn to walk around or away from it. and not fight on most issues. interfering. you have two or three children with difficult. do you think they would have done it to start with? Chinese leaders have been older. Now that he is 75 . You are a boss and have a troublesome employee reporting to you. None of us is perfect. Saddam. 28 www. “Look I can’t manage them. Why don’t we move Sally-Billy before we have a real problem. and give them the “ball. Good luck.You Can Walk Away Your Inalienable Right To Retreat he is a pussycat. They may just think twice before doing it again. be sure to do it when provoked. to whack the nail a little harder. Think older. You can give up and say. “Look boss. especially if you do this in your home community.” If you select this option. I have found this happening to me. bosses are terrified of being sued by employees. If it is too hard to bust through the wall. and critical parents. they don’t work with them. you have your points. “Look. You can suggest giving up and say to your boss. Hitler.” Don’t back down once you start. It is one of the enormous advantages of age.” In business.com Legal Survival Kit One reason many people become more successful in business as they get older is they learn to give up. Don’t be talked back or they may wait their turn to whack you for it harder the next time.

You must coax it down the stairs. You have taken the heat off yourself no matter what the outcome. If people make your company’s environment miserable. you. when a situation is not working out well. You must first protect people within the company or organization if you want them to treat outsiders well. you are not resolving the issue. Better to move on to opportunity—unless. you have to get them out or the whole place can become surly. In retail they have a marvelous phrase for it.” You have a contract with a difficult personcompany-type. It is all too easy to get caught up in the emotion of conflict. “You can’t throw a bad habit out the window. To underscore this. most people learn it is far more productive to mitigate damages than try to eliminate them. “We don’t do what you want. However. you are a lawyer and then you get rewarded by more billable hours.” Customers for Life by Carl Sewell describes “firing customers. As you get older. of course.” Organizations cannot withstand harsh treatment by the outside world. you put everyone on notice. As Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines says. However. Remember: you have the inalienable right to retreat honorably and with all due haste. “Employees first. In this case. customers second.simplymedia. you have merely mitigated the damages.com Legal Survival Kit . We need to move on. All of this is easier said than done. don’t want to be caught footing the bill for those billable hours. If anything comes up later.” In summary. “I am sorry X. “Your first loss is your best loss. with or without cause. solid business advice as to how to reduce future problems that could well turn into litigation. Our Conflict Resolution and Negotiations Handbook discs address that process. x airlines does. 29 www. That is a much more challenging enterprise and not the subject of this CD. Interesting Point: None of these actions resolves the problem.” in order to keep the employees morale up to deal with the customers. one of your best options is an orderly retreat so you can focus your energies on a productive situation. you are mitigating the damages. please use them and not us next time so you won’t be disappointed. as a civilian and nonlawyer. We strongly recommend you incorporate unilateral “give up” or exit clauses in all of your contracts. which we do.Do we want them around to crow about it or worse yet rat us out?” Result: You are on record about the problem. Consider putting in clauses. we just aren’t up to your standards. Again. Southwest permits its employees to fire customers by telling them.” This is a perfect “give up” strategy without offending the other party but getting yourself and/or your organization off the hook. it is good. to give you the right to “quit” or “stop” without giving reasons. As Mark Twain said.

Summary Don’t Just Blame The Lawyers! Individually we must learn to deal with the consequences of society’s trying to “right all wrongs” and get “compensation” broadly.com Legal Survival Kit . more and more people are seeking to blame others for their problems—and seeking monetary compensation for them through the legal system. As the old saying goes. We as a society are perpetuating it. and get good legal help early. 30 www. The courts have always been an accurate reflection of our country’s beliefs. and emotional resources “to prove” anything through the court system. recognizing the increasing tendency for people and organizations to sue each other. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best way to turn away a lawsuit is to try to settle it out promptly. many are not. and discipline being admired less and feared more. They are no exception in this instance.” That is exactly why we wrote this CD-ROM and we hope you have benefited from it. be alert to your options to improve your position through “good faith dealings. Some of the results are positive. money. Audio Fourteen: Don’t Just Blame the Lawyers Lawyers may have started the trend to increased litigation. If you cannot settle an actual or potential lawsuit. Keep in mind that it is very expensive in time.” being vigilant about identifying their weaknesses. As we gradually take less personal responsibility for our actions.simplymedia.

Appendix I Clickable List of Audio Clips Audio One: Audio Two: Audio Three: Audio Four: Audio Five: Audio Six: Audio Seven: Audio Eight: Audio Nine: Audio Ten: Audio Eleven: Audio Twelve: Audio Thirteen: Introduction The Purpose of Written Agreement What You Owe Them Common Approaches That Can Help So You Got A Legal Letter PMI Thinking The Court’s Approach and Interpretation Agreements Between Friends Business Agreements Personal Litigation Wills Divorce Review Your Exposure Audio Fourteen: Don’t Just Blame The Lawyers 31 www.simplymedia.com Legal Survival Kit .

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