Posts Tagged ‘Dispute Resolution Clauses’
What if your entire town made an official commitment to practicing legal wellness, for one year? Or for that matter, your entire company? Or your mission-based organization? Or your family?
A couple of years ago I read an article in AARP Magazine about how Albert Lea, a small town of 18,000 in Minnesota, launched the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project. The town made a commitment for one year to making changes in the way their residents ate, exercised, worked and played. The guiding principle for the Blue Zones Project is to commit to four traits: healthier diet, active lifestyle, clear sense of purpose and strong social networks. A year later, when they went back to Albert Lea to see how things went, they saw that people wanted to keep it going and did just that. The residents had logged 42,000 miles of walking, up from 37,558 logged a year earlier. One resident noted that in one year, he increased his life expectancy from 52 years to 78 years. He noted that the project improved both his habits and his happiness. Five months into the project, participating residents had lost an average of 3 pounds each and had added three years each to their life spans.
Now, take that same concept – a commitment of an entire town to practicing health wellness – but apply it to legal wellness. For one year, what if town officials agreed that if there were any kind of municipal disputes, neither side would sue or go to court. Instead, participants committed to a pilot project in which they would act differently when they found themselves in disputes. They agreed to first work together toward resolving it utilizing only non-adversarial dispute resolution processes. The residents agreed also to commit to take any dispute they had to a designated center in the town or at the worksite, where, working with people trained in non-adversarial and interest-based dispute resolution, the parties worked through their issues together, through a series of negotiation sessions, guided by those trained to facilitate this kind of problem solving. They also hired an ombudsperson to work discreetly, neutrally and confidentially with people having conflicts or problems in the workplace, in community organizations or in their families to diffuse them. They utilized several preventive steps, training and educating. They put policies and procedures in place to prevent certain disputes from occurring. They put into their contracts dispute resolution clauses by which the parties agreed to try non-adversarial dispute resolution processes first, processes in which they controlled the outcome. Read the rest of this entry »
Today, many people try to save time and money by using templates and programs available on line or in bookstores to draft their own legal documents. There are some good products out there and some language is pretty much boilerplate.
But not all of it. The devil is in the details, it’s often said. The problem with using already prepared contracts and agreements is that no two situations are alike. Templates designed for general use could not possibly know the specific circumstances of your situation and the specific purposes for your agreement or contract.
The word processing of a contract is a very small part of the service provided and the value added of a lawyer’s work. The larger parts are knowing the client well, caring about the little things in the client’s circumstances, and advising the client on the best ways of dealing with these unique situations: The nature of relationship between our clients and those they do business with, the specific details of his organization or her business, the information and idiosyncrasies that are unique to this situation and the particular relationship that the agreement addresses. The vital purpose fulfilled by having your lawyer draft, fine tune and negotiate the contract is to consider all these specific details and make sure they are addressed.
A lawyer who counsels on and drafts agreements is a conflict resolution advocate. The lawyer is called upon to anticipate situations that may arise in the future of the relationship between the parties, and efficiently address those situations in advance in the contract. A boilerplate agreement downloaded from some general program or software can’t possibly fulfill this function. This is where the real advocacy and representation lives; where an attorney proves his or her real worth to the client. We need to provide good answers in the contract to this question: What if this happens? Read the rest of this entry »