As I sit down to write my annual list of resolutions for contractors, I am amazed at how much things changed in 2020. Construction was going well and then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit. At first, we thought it was going to be a disaster for the construction industry. States, cities and towns shut down projects and many applied for PPP loans. Then, something amazing happened. Construction was considered an essential service and everyone was back to work.  That said, the work world changed: companies were donating their PPE to frontline workers, COVID-19 protocols had to be followed and paperwork had to be filed. Everyone was scrambling to figure out how to comply and keep their businesses going. So, you may or may not ask, what was I, as a construction lawyer doing? I spent March and April thinking about the new risks contractors/construction companies were facing and developing contract clauses to protect the industry. I wrote a number of blog posts with clauses to add to your contra

What if the Debate Were Moderated by a Trained Arbitrator/Mediator?


I am guessing like the rest of you, I am still reeling from last night’s presidential debate.  I was so tense during the whole thing that I felt as if I had been through a horrifying experience.

How could that have happened?  Trump came in like a bulldozer and just kept stepping on the gas.  Sadly, Biden did not seem to know how to deal with this attack.  As Dana Bash on CNN stated, “It was a shit show!”

I couldn’t help imagining how I, with my arbitration/mediation skills, could have moderated the debate, which may have resulted in a very different outcome.

State the Rules and Control the Process.

In every mediation and arbitration, I remind the parties that it is my job to control the process.  They provide the evidence and information, but when it comes to procedure, I am the boss.

So, knowing Trump’s track record, I would have sternly reminded the parties of their prior agreement to the debate format.

“You will each have two uninterrupted minutes to respond to the questions.”  That was said but the participants were not forewarned about the consequences of violating the rules.

So, here is my imaginary introduction to presidential debate:

As part of the ground rules, you need to know what will happen if you do not abide by the debate agreement.  First, I will remind you to not to interrupt.  We have agreed in advance that there will be no personal attacks, and each of you will respond to the question as presented. 

If you deviate from responding to the question, I will remind you of what the question is.  If you still persist in raising irrelevant issues, I will award your remaining time to the other party and turn off your microphone.

Once Chris Wallace realized what was happening, Andrea, the fantasy moderator would have said, “Time Out!”  You agreed to a set of rules.  You are not abiding by those rules.  We have ten topics to get through tonight.  Your behavior is not helping the American people choose a president.  I am going to now proceed with each question.  I want to hear your response to that question. 

Trump still persists in his bullying and name calling.

Name That Behavior.

President Trump.  You are acting like a bully.  You are being rude and insulting Vice-President Biden.  That behavior is not acceptable and I will not allow it.  If you cannot control your behavior, I am turning off your microphone.  If that doesn’t work, then I will end the debate early and you can answer these questions in a written format.

Remind the Parties of Their Goals.

If I am forced to turn off your microphone or end the debate early, that will not serve either one of you.  The goal here is for the American voters to learn your positions on the issue of importance in our society.  Your actions are depriving your audience of the opportunity to do that.

Get the Parties to Buy into the Process.

You both agreed to the format of this debate.  You both agreed to debate in the first place because that is part of the election process.  You both agreed that you are here for the voters.

Now can we proceed?

I am happy to serve as a neutral and help you resolve your disputes without resorting to litigation.  Given the availability of Zoom and other virtual portals, I can arbitrate anywhere in the country.  You can contact me at agoldman@goldmanlg.com or 617-953-3760.  Please contact Goldman Law Group today!

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