Out there on the horizon was yet another job gone bad. Payments were owed, or at least some said. Liens were threatened, and then recorded. Others were indignant, claiming that if anything was owed it was owed to them. Delays. Defects. Slow pay. No pay. Lousy contract documents and even worse communication. It was a boiling cauldron of adversity ready to spill over into the district courts where it would soon waste everyone’s time and money. Maybe even eat some youngsters.
Lawyers with calmer heads got together and smartly said to each other, “Hey, let’s call Tim Cook over at Cook Law & ADR, PLLC! He’s a sharp tack and a hard-working guy. And he has a great assistant in that Miss Linda lady! Let’s call them and see if he can get this mess sorted out before we all spend a fortune with a lawsuit.”
Smart lawyers, those folks. Phones rang. E-mails were exchanged. A date was confirmed. A pre-mediation exchange of documents and information was had. Rather than spending time and effort on depositions and motion practice, the lawyers helped their clients prepare for mediation.
That day soon came. Folks arrived with their game faces on. They were greeted with a smile and ushered to their private rooms. It was a big crowd. Four or five parties. No problem. At Cook Law & ADR, we have plenty of room. When we do not, we are willing to let others host and will travel at no charge. Sorry, we digress.
The coffee was brewed fresh. The water and soda pops were ice cold. A big plate of the finest donuts this side of the river were at the ready. Magazines on near all interesting topics, and interesting but not overly expensive art, were all around to bring the blood pressures down. If those did not work, the heart start paddles were at fully charged and not far away. We were ready to get things done. The sleeves were rolled up. We started on time. We did not waste time. At least not much.
The project players were angry that day my friends.Tim Cook worked hard. So did everyone else. All positions had some degree of justification and righteous indignation. No one is ever completely right. No one. No one expects a job to go bad either. Having not called Tim immediately for some project claim mediation at the time, that job went from bad to worse to near impossible. And now it was time to vent, to reason, and to resolve. Voices were raised. Tables were pounded. Eyes were rolled. Crying towels were passed around. Doses of the cold hard truth were administered. After a hard stretch, agreement was reached. Yes, the gripes were over. The dark scepter of bad things in court was gone.
A final mediated settlement agreement was drafted, reviewed, revised slightly, and signed. Business relationships were preserved. Lawyer and expert fees were kept in a reasoned range. The men and women who arrived in combat gear left in reasonably good cheer, and with the remaining few donuts in hand. Sure, no one was immediately happy with the result. But they would soon realize that they could box up their files, close their claim folders, and spend their lawyer money on more productive matters looking to the future rather than trying to change the past.
Collectively, those mediation participants privately sang the praises of the fine folks at Cook Law & ADR for helping them get to common ground. All the way home and some more the next day. Hey, you can sing these praises too. To be clear, mediation is not always successful. Sometimes there is simply not enough room for compromise. Sometimes, people just do not want the drama of a lawsuit out of their lives. However, these are the exceptions rather than the rules.
Today’s lesson from this rambling sometimes incoherent recollection of yet another one of Tim Cook’s many successes? Give ADR and mediation a chance. You’ll be glad you did. Of course, we’d love to see you here at Cook Law & ADR. If not here, there are many other fine men and women who are qualified ADR specialists. Make sure that they have the fresh donuts. And the good cheer. And a reasoned value. And a firm commitment to do all that can be done to have your dispute bite the dust. We do. Have a great week.