Wednesday, September 5, 2018

7 tips to be a more successful contractor

     We've dealt with many contractors over the years - including defending and prosecuting them in disputes and lawsuits around the country.  Here are 7 tips to help avoid trouble and be more successful:

1.  Put it in writing.  Be it a formal contract, a summarizing letter agreement, or confirming email(s), make sure the essential terms of the relationship between you and your client/customer are memorialized in writing.  At a minimum include start and completion dates (if its a best estimate, call it that), price and payment schedule, who pays costs and when, who to contact and how if there are questions or problems,  and the procedure for making changes to the project.  If it ain't in writing, it ain't.

2.  Provide status reports.  Periodically and routinely let the client know how work is going and things generally are progressing.  Emails and phone calls are best.  Give them the good, bad and ugly so as realistically to manage expectations.  Consider providing in writing a midway "half-time report," summarizing what's been done, paid for, what remains, changes to completion dates, etc.

3.  Lead from the front.  Show up frequently and set a good example.  Nothing beats enabling the client (and your own employees and workers) to see you - the main person, head honcho, owner etc. - on the job site, especially doing some of the physical work.  Leave your phone in the truck.

4.  Keep your promises and follow through.  Everything you say to a client (or an employee) sounds like or will be viewed as a promise, so communicate and act accordingly.  Things can derail fast when someone thinks you are not delivering.  Follow through without having to be nagged about it.

5.  Clean up.  Leaving a mess means leaving the job unfinished.  Clean up as you go and don't wait until the very end (or worse, to be told to clean up).  This is a good step to combine with #3 above.

6.  Accept responsibility.  Fix problems, discussing up front who should pay for it or share in the cost if other than you.  Make things right promptly.  Don't blame your employees or workers.

7.  Communicate.  Keep the client informed, even if its just a quick text message.  For example, if you need to reschedule a work day, an employee is sick, you are out getting materials, you received their installment check, etc.  Silence breeds suspicion and "worst case scenarios."  Frequent, timely communication is the single most important tip for helping ensure smooth relationships, repeat business, and referrals.

                                                                      * * *

    If you need help, call us here at Sanderson Law, P.C.  We've been helping people and businesses for nearly 30 years.  303-444-8846.

Friday, February 23, 2018

More gun control?

     In a perfect world there would be no guns, or violence.  In reality, in the U.S. alone there are more guns than people.  Alcohol prohibition failed.  Drug laws failed.  Countless laws regulate guns already.  "Gun free zones" are the most dangerous places in the nation.  Police can or will only do so much.  So, to see if you really support more now so-called "sensible gun control," take this short quiz.

1.  If you and your family were locked in a room with 100 complete strangers, and only one person in the room had a gun, would you want it?

2.  If you were locked in the same room and knew others may have guns, would you want one, and if so, would you want the ability to shoot a lot of bullets or only a few?

3.  If you lived in a "high crime" area and were against having guns, would you agree to keep a sign in your front yard saying your home was gun free?

4.  If your answer to #3 was yes, would you agree to have the police periodically search your home (and computer and cell phone etc.) to make sure you had no guns, at their random discretion, or based on a neighbor's tip?

5.  Who do guns help more - the physically strong or the physically weak?  The powerful or the vulnerable?

6.  Do you agree that guns make people equal (because they level the playing field in terms of self-defense)?  If so, to the extent gun control also disarms women and minorities - leaving them even more vulnerable - isn't gun control anti-women, racist etc.?

7.  When you were growing up, were any of the guns in your house used to shoot another person?

8.  Do criminals obey the laws they break?  

9.  Do rich people and people in power - many of whom have bodyguards who carry guns - deserve more protection than you and your family?

10.  Can you think of any time in recent history - say the last 100 years - when bad people with guns oppressed good people without them?

     There are no right or wrong answers - just sensible ones.  Thank you for participating.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Why Do They Build Appellate Courts?

     "There's a reason they build appellate courts," is what my old boss used to say about cases we would consider appealing.  In civil and criminal cases, generally there is the right to one appeal of the trial court's final decision(s).  

    So, if the outcome of most any trial can be appealed at least once, should you appeal?  That depends on options (usually by this stage minimal), budget, time involved, goals of the case etc., and of course the chances of a favorable outcome.  The rate of reversal or similar is about 25% in state cases, and just over 10% in federal cases.  Far fewer cases end up at the highest appellate courts, like the applicable state or U.S. supreme court, mostly because those appeals are discretionary, meaning the appellate judges themselves decide whether to accept the appeal.  The likelihood of this is less than 10% (although once accepted, the reversal etc. rate approaches 50%).

     Appeals take time - framing the issues, preparing and filing the notice, compiling and reviewing the appeal record, researching law, drafting and crafting written briefs, preparing and handling any oral argument (also usually discretionary), and the like.  Two years to complete an appeal is not out of the ordinary.  Because time is money, appeals can cost many thousands.

     Many appellate decisions - the written opinion disposing of the matter usually authored by one appellate judge on behalf of a panel of three or more - are published and become precedent for future cases.  Transactional lawyers, regulatory lawyers and other non-litigators typically do not try or appeal cases, but they are guided by those precedents.

     Trial judges make mistakes too, and that is why they build appellate courts.

-courtesy of Sanderson Law, P.C., handling appeals, trials and everything in between, since 1992.  303-444-8846.