When a dental partnership fails, it’s natural to want to keep the truth quiet. The dissolution of relationships, especially business relationships, is often seen as shameful. In Part 1 of this series, I decided to openly discuss a partnership that ended. Here, I continue that story.
When Dental Partnerships Go Awry
After negotiation and mediation failed, our contract stated we would have our case settled by the American Arbitration Association. When the dust settled three-and-a-half years later and the final appeal ruling of the Arbitrator’s decision came down in my favor, it ended up on the front page of our local Daily Law Bulletin.
I had multiple texts come in that morning from attorney friends and patients congratulating me on the victory. Even an arbitration victory can feel like a loss with the stomach lining and energy that it takes to go through the process.
I know that some lessons will never be learned out of a book and need to be experienced, but please add this one phrase to your existing or upcoming contract: The loser of any appeal of binding arbitration shall pay the other party’s attorney fees. That alone would have prevented many years of stress, a whole lot of money spent on attorneys, and some gray hairs to boot.
Creating a Partnership Charter
Recently, I was introduced to a book entitled ‘The Partnership Charter’ that has energized me around new possibilities for a partnership with my current associate. A partnership charter is a cooperative document meant to instill a spirit of collaboration into an agreement between parties.
While not legally binding, it provides a framework for the partnership that is highly individualized and contains no boiler plate standard clauses. The process is the most important outcome and the document is secondary. It is meant to be reviewed and revised throughout the partnership, becoming a true living document that creates continued conversation over synergy and fairness.
Though not every scenario can be planned for, I am confident that getting in and out of my next partnership will be spelled out much more clearly than my last. The charter will provide a process of collaboration that will guide us toward fairness for all concerned.