On Black Friday, 2011, Patagonia ran a full-page ad in the New York Times, stating, “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” The audacious ad told customers why they might not really need that new jacket and rejected consumerism. Defying the odds, consumers ignored the advice and Patagonia sales shot up 30%.

So, here is my modest effort to explain why you should ignore this legal advice if you want to save costs and stay out of court:

  • Don’t Condition Your Bids: Only by conditioning bids upon equitable contract language, like the ConsensusDocs 750 or AIA A401, can subcontractors maintain leverage to secure fair contract language or walk away from unreasonable contractual demands.
  • Don’t Review Your Contracts: The contract is the “bible” of your legal obligations and yet too few read it, let alone strictly follow it. Owners, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers who are familiar with the terms of their respective contracts and institute controls to follow them are in a much better situation to prevail should a problem arise.
  • Don’t Read Your Lien Waivers: Too many sign lien waivers without reading the fine print and may be inadvertently waiving change order requests, claims, or retainage. Sometimes all lien rights are being released in exchange for a partial payment. Those who reserve rights to unpaid sums and only waive rights for payments actually received do far better.
  • Don’t Give Timely Notice: Courts are increasingly strictly enforcing notice provisions to bar claims or change orders because the claimant did not set forth his request for additional time or money in writing early enough in the job. Those that give timely early notice are in a much better position to recover on a meritorious claim.
  • Don’t Mediate Early: Most serious disputes are mediated these days – sooner or later. If the parties can agree to exchange meaningful information and seriously negotiate with the help of a savvy mediator early in the dispute and achieve a settlement, they can save a ton of time and money and get back to their core business.

If you don’t buy this legal advice, you will have a much better chance to avoid serious legal problems and expense.