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March 30, 2014
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Vail Daily column: Spring cleaning applies to legal problems, too

It is springtime in the mountains. Gorgeous sunny afternoons evoke giddiness about summer, dreams that are quashed by the reality of a 2-foot dump. I revel in the unpredictability of spring (especially the seemingly unseasonable snowfalls), but know that there are dissenting opinions on that score. While the weather may preclude nature’s physical renewal for a bit longer, it is time to embrace the psychological rebirth of spring. For those with pending or potential legal issues, the vernal equinox is a signal worth heeding.

Learn to Let Go

The best way to move into summer with a clear mind is to let it go. Whatever it is, let it go. It is not worth it. Unless winning the dispute is the only thing saving you from financial ruin or losing will literally be life-ending, the time and money and stress cannot possibly be worth it. Instead of waking each day with a pit in your stomach, you can greet the morning as a harbinger of new possibilities. I harbor no illusions that letting it go is easy. Whether it is a business matter or a property conflict or a domestic issue, the dispute is part of your life. But to excise the conflict is to gain back the full and beautiful bandwidth of your existence.

Resolve Matters Quickly

Of course, this perspective does not apply to any criminal trouble in which you may find yourself. In that instance, you are no longer in full control of your own destiny, which is one of the many ignominies of breaking the law. I imagine that telling a police office or judge to simply let it go will only cause you further complications.

If walking away from the conflict is not possible or desirable, then the next best option is to get it resolved as quickly as possible. Despite the hard work by our judges and court officials, the court system is not the most expeditious way to obtain resolution. The most efficient way to solve a problem is simply to talk to the other side. You will not incur any outside fees and the biggest difficulty may be swallowing pride and being the one to initiate the conversation. If the dispute has broken down into a war of emails, then pick up the phone and vice versa. Changing the dynamic of interaction often works wonders.

Ideally, you would sit down over coffee or a beer and hash it out. Being in the same room humanizes the experience: instead of being a disembodied voice or words on a screen, your opponent is present and more likely to be relatable. Be sure to ease into the matter at hand by starting with an uncontroversial topic: prior shared joys, family, even the weather. Once the rapport has begun to be repaired, addressing the crux of the issue should be much simpler. This strategy may not work every time, but I always believe it is worth a shot.

Consider Mediation

Failure to resolve the matter through direct means does not mean that all is lost. You may not even need a lawyer (gasp!). Mediation is another means of resolving conflict in a cooperative and not adversarial fashion. Contrary to common understanding, parties need not already be in litigation in order to engage in mediation. Exploring the potential for resolution through mediation before engaging an attorney can end up being a much quicker path.

A mediator is not a decision-maker, but a facilitator who assists the parties in working through their issues. Often the parties’ quarrel is not wholly or even mostly about the issue on the surface, but is informed by underlying matters, emotional or otherwise. A mediator, or at least a good one, will work to unpack these seemingly ancillary bundles.

Therapeutic Process

The mediation process can thus be therapeutic in a way consistent with spring’s renaissance. Even if mediation does not completely solve the problem, it will at least serve to wash away extraneous sub-disputes. The inherent catharsis of this endeavor will also allow the disputants to move forward feeling unburdened, which not only reduces stress but may also streamline further dispute resolution undertakings that may be necessary.

If all of these steps fail and you find yourself embroiled in litigation, then do not despair. The lessons of spring have given you a new perspective on the conflict that will prevent the dispute from consuming you. In litigation, as in life, attitude is (almost) everything.

T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner/mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, tj@rkvlaw.com or visit www.rkvlaw.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 30, 2014 08:40PM Published Mar 30, 2014 12:03PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.