What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in construction? And how can you use it to get paid faster in construction? In less than 40 minutes, you’ll learn about what Alternative Dispute Resolution is, FAQs, and concrete steps you can take to speed up your payment.
About Ernest C. Brown
“Construction Lawyer Of The Year 2019,” Ernest is a mediator, arbitrator, and construction attorney in San Francisco with over 30 years of experience. He has been “endorsed as one of the top five construction lawyers in California, according to Chambers & Partners, the premier independent ranking publication for lawyers across the globe.”
Brown focuses on alternative dispute resolution. He would be a good contact to make when you’ve reached out to the other party and need help to resolve an issue without going to court or pursuing litigation.
About Seth Bloom
Seth is the Senior Director of Attorney Services for Levelset. Since 2004, Seth has managed his own law firm in New Orleans, specializing in criminal defense, personal injury, property and insurance law, and oil spill litigation. He is an accomplished New Orleans criminal defense and personal injury attorney.
Full Webinar Transcript
Seth: Hello everyone, this is Seth Bloom from Levelset and I’m excited to announce another webinar today. We have Ernest Brown who practices out of the greater San Francisco Bay area, but has a national practice. So I’ll turn it over to Ernest and he’s going to talk today about ADR and how to get paid faster in the construction industry. So go ahead Ernest, thanks for coming on today, we really appreciate it.
Ernest: Seth, thank you so much and thank you for Levelset, which is great, a great company. We’ve been following you since zlien days. And I’ve used you extensively. I’m going to show some slides and anybody who wants the slides, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and be able to get ahold of copies of those slides after we’re done. But the first thing I just want to go over what we’re doing. We’re going to use ADR as a tool to get paid faster. And ADR, as most of you know, is a term called alternative dispute resolution. And when they use that term, what they’re really saying is, as opposed to going to court with a judge or jury trial. And really in life we don’t consider negotiation or bringing in a third party could be the alternative. In fact, almost all the disputes we resolve in our lives from the kind we’re little kids, we’re basically negotiating.
We’re talking, we’re talking in a group. And sometimes we bring in, and I can say this at my age and grade, an adult in the room who can kind of weigh in to it after, in my case, 50 years in the construction industry. So I want to talk just generally about my background just for a minute. I grew up in Reno, Nevada. My mom and my dad doing public service. My mom was a teacher, my dad was a civil engineer, structural engineer. And my uncle and he had a civil structural engineering firm in Reno that did work in California, Idaho, Nevada. So I grew up in the business. And there’s really no escaping it. My grandfather was a trial lawyer, and so I decided that I’d try to do what they did. My dad said there weren’t that many lawyers that knew about construction, so I did civil engineering and then I went to law school.
Along the way did some ROTC and some other things that were really good for my leadership skills. So I’m a member of the bar, I’m also a registered civil engineer. So essentially I have the ability to read plans and I can read a contract. I can tell people generally what’s going to happen if they go to trial because I’ve had about 3,000 cases that I’ve resolved over the years, including lots of jury trials and arbitrations. So that’s my background. The last 10 years I’ve been basically serving as a neutral, as an arbitrator and a mediator. And that’s really what we’re going to focus on today.
Some of the projects that I’ve been involved in, this is Carquinez Bridge $3 million, I represent Kiewit, excuse me, in this one I represented Flatiron and Cleveland Bridge our of Arlington, England. And we built that suspension bridge on the left in the early 2000s. And we did a lot of dispute resolution there along the way and were successful in getting about $43 million from the owner. But the principles that I’m going to give you are the same if you’re doing a kitchen remodel. It’s the same ideas, it just is a different scale. And frankly if you’re a small business and you have a payment problem on a kitchen remodel or a house remodel, it can put you out of business. And so it’s a very, very important thing to be familiar with these tools.
Mediator vs. Arbitrator
Seth: Ernest, sorry to interrupt. I’m a lawyer as well, but I want to make sure that, you know, these are people in the construction industry that are participants now. Maybe if you can talk about a little bit about what a mediator is or an arbitrator is, and the evolution of how ADR has become so popular in the last 10 to 20 years.
Ernest: Well absolutely. And of course we’ll hit this in some depth, but right off the top, you’re right, most people don’t know the difference between a mediator and an arbitrator. And a mediator is someone who’s brought in by the parties to look at the issues, look at the contract, hear each side, sometimes in a group setting, sometimes by Skype, sometimes by email, sometimes just by looking at the paperwork. And then going back to the parties, talking to each of them and seeing what their relative strengths and weaknesses are. And helping them get to negotiate a settlement. So in other words, it’s not binding, it’s a friend of the project or friend of the parties who comes in, understands, does the homework, and then helps people to get to agreement. And a written agreement. And sometimes that’s done in a day, sometimes it’s done in half a day, sometimes it’s done in an hour over the telephone.
Now an arbitration is very much like a court trial, except it’s held in a private conference room and the arbitrator hears sworn testimony. And the arbitrator makes a binding decision. It’s binding for all intents and purposes, some very rare exceptions. But then a court will basically enter as a judgment. So as we’ll see a little later on, mediation is pretty cheap and inexpensive and very effective and nonbinding, because the parties control what they’re doing. And arbitration can be quite expensive. I had an arbitration last year, it lasted 80 days. So arbitration can be three or four days, but it can turn into something that can be very extensive. So again, everything I’m going to emphasize today is quick, early and voluntary efforts to resolve cases in the most least costly possible way, and using the principles in the contract.
So just to hit a few basic issues. Back in my days we had a phrase at a major company I was with, Fluor, which was RTFC. And it was read the full contract. And I’m not really allowed to drop an F bomb on the internet today I suspect, but it was, read the full contract was often read with some emphasis because if you haven’t read the contract, you really don’t know what your payment rights are. And especially calendaring the deadlines for when you’re supposed to submit stuff. And when you should expect to see the responses. Often people don’t read their contracts, and in fact they find themselves having not complied with it and that’s why they haven’t been paid. Invoices and statements, so important, in my view, not only to send out an invoice, which we do, but send out a regular statement on a monthly basis so it shows the payments had been made so the client actually knows what is owed now.
Very, very important. The other thing is on invoices and statements, we always say, pay us by check, so forth. But there’s so many faster ways to be paying, and it’s amazing how many small businesses don’t use them. Some of the larger ones do. For example, credit cards. There are people that have a $50,000 limit on their credit card. Pay it, it’ll clear within a day or so. Very simple. Often you also do a wire transfer, and that’s usually the same day. Somebody can pay you literally the same day if you give them that option, which is your routing number and your bank account number. Letter of credit, which you do a lot more for international work. Something arrives at a dock, you get paid by a letter of credit just by essentially a certification that the goods have arrived at their destination.
And then check charges, where somebody gives you their check numbers over the telephone and proper authorization through your own bank, you have to set that up. But they can pay you immediately. So there’s a lot of things that you can do. You can also put, like I do in my firm, a credit card authorization or it’s right on the website. So you just direct them to your website so the payment could be made immediately. So again, invoicing and payments, setting it up.
Letters of credit in construction cases
Seth: Ernest, letters of credit typically used in construction cases? I’ve heard of them used for international commodities and stuff. But what about, how to apply it to construction?
Ernest: Yeah, letters of credit are very common when you’re getting large international shipments. For example, I showed you that bridge example a few minutes ago. And we had letters of credit for the arrival of all that steel from IHI in Japan. So when when it arrived, they didn’t have to wait for a check. They didn’t even load it until the letter of credit basically was funded. They can be quite dangerous. If you issue a letter of credit, it can be pulled very quickly.
But if you get one for security for payment, it’s quite common. So it can be used. It’s usually for the larger projects. But we see them a lot in P3, public private partnerships. Because in Europe and in Canada where they have many more of these P3s, the banks are very used to having letter of credit as opposed to a performance fund.
They find that that’s a lot more quicker and effective. So they do that. So I also like sending pictures with invoices. I know that sounds a little bit innovative, but if you send a picture and say, this is what we finished this month, here’s the progress, percentage completion and some pictures to show actually what’s been done, then the bean counters in the accounting department can say, well it looked like just an invoice, but now I have something visual and I don’t have to necessarily send somebody out to the site to check it. Are you sending it to the right person? Obviously. And then have you met and conferred with the people to say, hey, even if you can’t pay me now in full, what can you pay me at this time?
So those are things, I think they’re pretty fundamental but often get lost in the heat of work. We get really upset when we’re not paid in 35 days or 60 days goes by. And sometimes on simple things like, did we read the full contract? And did we properly invoice and we’re sending it to the right person?
What to do when a GC refuses your contract edits
Seth: We have a question from one of our participants. And basically they’re a subcontractor. And he’s saying that he red lines a lot of things in the contract and then the GC refuses to accept them. The red lines. What do you have some suggestions for a subcontractor to do when a GC is not accepting any sort of red lines or adjustments?
Ernest: You know, it’s interesting, we used to have what we call contract exceptions. We had standard contract forms and they’d come back [with edits]. And they went to the law department and I would be reviewing them. And we usually just went down and we looked at them and we said, acceptable, unacceptable, acceptable. We found the ones that we could give them, and then we had to, for policy reasons, keep certain of the other ones.
A lot of the reason that the general contractors don’t want to take exceptions is they don’t want to have to incur the money to send it to an outside lawyer to see if it’s okay. So again, sometimes if you make the change in a letter, it’s not just the red line, but explain why you want to make the change and then say, if you have any questions you can call your lawyer or somebody to explain it to them.
But often these pre-printed forms have a lot of pretty one-sided provisions. And if you have a contractor that just says it’s my way or the highway, then there’s lot of work out there these days and you might not want to work for him. I hate to say that, but explaining it’s the first step. But if they just won’t budge at all, then maybe you move on to the next project.
So another way we communicate, not just with photographs, is with diagrams. And sometimes to show the commodities have been reached even in our mediation or arbitration process. This is a good example of just something where you’re communicating with people about what the project’s about, dimensions and things of that sort. That it’s illustrative as opposed to a picture. So moving to the next one, really important, especially in those States that have strict licensing requirements. Before you pursue too hard your payment, make sure your contractor’s license is okay. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit.
Have you complied with the payment conditions? Because you send in your invoice and it doesn’t comply, a lot of time is going to go by before they come back and say you didn’t do it right. And then a lot more times going to pass, as I mentioned before. And finally, are you complying with the change order in claims compliance? And this is, very briefly I’ll mention this stuff. The public agencies I represent, I was outside counsel building John Wayne Airport in the 90s. And I can just tell you from representing public agencies, they’re really sticklers on all the conditions in the contract. Now with regard to the contractor’s license, we have some cases it says it’s broadly defined, but in California if you don’t have a license, not only do you not get paid, but you have to pay back every dime you’ve been paid.
So I see people going in and saying, hey, we want our last progress payment of $100,000. The other side says, guess what? We just checked your licenses and we looked at it in depth. You owe us $12 million for everything you did on the project because you weren’t properly licensed. So you have to be bulletproof on that. And it’s required that you allege it. So again, before you take that step on ADR or anything else, make sure you’re covered. Now even if you do your work perfectly, even if it’s masterfully done, you can still have some very severe license disputes. In California, specifically, you can have essentially an automatic revocation if you understate your worker’s comp. Or if you don’t have worker’s comp when you’re supposed to. And you have to be licensed the entire time of the job, not just most of it, or the whole thing is an unlicensed project.
So again, in ADR, collecting money the license thing is number one.
Change order process
The next thing is this change order process. Did you comply with the change order process? You got to do that before you have a chance to recovering in court order using alternative dispute resolution. So this is a chart we put together for the Caltrans process. You go through all these steps, you have to do it right. But my point in this lecture or this discussion, I hate to say lecture, but in this discussion, is you can use a mediator at any point in this process. Because at any point a project owner or general contractor can agree to settle a dispute. You don’t have to wait until the very end to use a mediator, you can use it right at the very beginning. You have a differing side condition, you can bring the mediator out to the job site and say, hey, this doesn’t fit. So let’s see what we can do.
ADR tools to faster payment
Now we’re going to get to the heart of it, because we’re about 10 minutes into this thing, 12 minutes into it. I want to talk about what I’ll call the ADR tools, alternative dispute resolution tools that are available to get you a faster payment. And before we do that, we talked a little bit in planning. Now whether if you make an offer, are you going to be cutting yourself off? You’re negotiating it yourself. Is it admissible? Well, as it turns out, you can have confidentiality using alternative dispute resolution. There’s some of it in the statute, which is just, hey, it’s settlement discussions, but there are a whole bunch of exceptions to that in State and federal law. If you have it in a mediation context, most states have a very broad coverage or mediation, and the offers in all that in mediation and discussions. But if you really want to nail it, have everybody sign a confidentiality agreement that’s in the room.
And that’s what I always do. I have a mediation agreement, I have a confidentiality agreement that everybody signs. So that’s confidentiality.
Now let’s get into the heart of what we’re talking about. This is the money slide. So at the top it says ADR toolbox. And ADR toolbox just means this is a whole bunch of tools that we have. And as we know in construction or fixing a vehicle, using the right tool is 90% of getting the job right. So it takes a lot of thought to get to whether we should use this tool or the other. So on the left-hand column are all the ones that are non-binding and cheap. I call it cheap, but relatively inexpensive. On the right-hand side are the ones that are binding and they are much more expensive. To the extent that you want to know what is alternative dispute resolution.
That one segment there, that one that says court and jury, that’s traditional legal process dispute resolution. You go to court, you have a jury, you have a court trial. You take one to five years to go through that process, and an enormous amount of money, often more money than is at stake. So most people don’t do it. Now, as it turns out in federal court in the United States, of all the civil cases that are filed, 98.8% are settled without a trial. Only 1.2% of civil cases filed in federal court actually have a trial. So you’re probably going to settle these things overwhelmingly with mediation or some other step, settlement discussion. Let’s go over to the far left-hand side. I’ve discussed what a mediator does, but it’s important that a mediation under State and federal law is a confidential process. Now sometimes it’s done in a couple of conference rooms.
One room where you meet together and the mediator says, this is what mediation is, it’s all confidential. Both sides have a little talk about what the issue is. Then people go into separate rooms and you do mediation, basically shuttle diplomacy. The mediator goes from room to room, raise issues, raise money, see if the demands can be met. And he may do this until one in the morning to get it done, or over a couple days. Got to have everybody there that knows what’s going on, that has authority, that understands the severity of the case and how much it’s going to take to go ahead and disrupt the relationships and go to trial and have it happen years later. So that’s the mediation process, and I’ve done hundreds of them. And they can be extremely effective. But even before that you can have meet and confer. Meet and confer just means sitting at a table with the other side and trying to determine the scope of what you can settle and what you can’t. And just the physical meeting of people with an agenda to talk about the issues is often, again, something that people overlook.
The next one is executive escalation. And as opposed to just going to somebody’s boss, what you do is have each of your bosses meet. So if you’re a project manager, the project managers on the other side, the project sponsor maybe meets with the project sponsor for the owner, for the general contractor. So you kind of take it away from the job side a little bit, but you basically put it into the hands of people that haven’t been in the fray. Who look at it as a business dispute, nothing persona. And often that escalation can help.
Pay when paid
Seth: I think we’ve got a really practical question that someone just asked, so I’ll read it to you verbatim. How does a minority subcontractor enforce the contract payment terms when the main contractor simply says, we didn’t get paid? What happens when the smallest contractor on the job is waiting?
Ernest: Well, and that happens a lot. One of my very best friends owns a black owned general contracting firm in Southern California. And he has this problem all the time. You know, the tail of the dog. He’s basically in a situation where everybody upstairs has got all sorts of problems that the have to work out and schedule and liquidate damages. And he has to pay his people. So in California and many other States we have public policy that says that the pay when paid clause can’t act as a condition precedent.
In other words, you still have to pay the sub even if you’ve been paid upstairs, according to California Supreme Court. So in some states you have that leverage. The other leverage you have is prompt payment statutes. Prompt payment statutes in many States can be as much as 2% per month penalty, 24% a year on top of interest.
So you’d say, look, we’re accruing a tremendous amount of interest, we don’t plan to waive it, so you better figure out a way to get us paid. And then of course eventually the big thunderbolt is stop work, because you can’t put yourself into bankruptcy. And if you state, look, we’re here, the policy of the state and federal government is to encourage merging businesses. And you folks are a bunch of elephants that are trampling us and it’s not good. And if you don’t fulfill your obligations, companies like ours won’t be able to survive. Go right to the public agency and tell them you’re not being paid. Go right to the public official, elected public officials who have authority for your project and say, they’re not paying us. And sometimes that direct political pressure can be very effective as well.
So partnering is another thing. Usually you do that at the beginning of the job and it sort of is a social activity. And people say, hey, what do you know? What can you tell somebody in this room that they wouldn’t guess? I have one guy who said, it was kind of a guy who is considered the most obnoxious guy in the entire project. He said, well, my wife and I adopted five foster children. And from that moment on the whole thing changed, right? The whole atmosphere changed. So sometimes you can bring back in a partnering person, but often they’re not really dispute resolution people. They’re basically a team building people. And they may have a different set of skills or want to remain essentially friends for all. Project neutral, on the other hand, is someone who’s written into the contract to resolve disputes. And there’s a lot of different ways you can phrase it.
Sometimes it’s a voluntary project neutral that parties call upon when they need to. Or it can be one that is required, that you go to them before you go to the other steps. And that person generally stays involved in the project the whole time. Similarly, a DRB, dispute review board, for larger projects has a panel of three individuals that are appointed at the beginning of the project. I’ve been on many of them, like UC Merced, which is a $1.3 billion P3 Merced campus. And the three of us have gone out to the site several times during the job. We’ve had Skype calls during the job. We’re there basically as a sounding board. Now I put asterisk on that particular note because in many cases the decision, if you will, the guidance of the DRB, even though it’s not binding it can be introduced later in court.
So you’ve got three very experienced people that saw the job, saw the contract, and then ended up with that result, which is essentially guidance based on the contract about not so much who’s right or wrong, but at least who has responsibilities under the contract and the facts. An ombudsman is a broader ADR person, and it comes from the Scandinavian countries. And basically that’s a person that’s there for the project as a whole, not just disputes. So they would have responsibilities to talk to all stakeholders, community people, sister agencies, and try to work through problems by just talking it through, trying to come up with broader solutions. Generally not based on contract, but based on relationships and what’s good for the firm, for the project. And finally this idea of a second opinion. You have a dispute, you’re upset, have some third party look at it. Again, it’s alternative.
It’s not your lawyer, it’s not your business partners. Have some third party look at it who maybe is an arbitrator or a mediator by training. I’ve done this a number of times. And just get feedback about whether your case is strong or not. So many lawyers think that their job is to be zealous and tell their client they can never lose, and show how powerful and strong and fearless they are. Sometimes even they need a third person to come in and say, great lawyer, super zealous. Winning is everything, losing is not an option. But again, a little bit of conversation.
Now on the other side of this, there are some binding alternative dispute resolution tools. So again, anything that’s not court jury, we’re talking about alternative dispute resolution. Arbitration I’ve talked about, very much like a court trial, single arbitrator, three arbitrators. But you can have these things set up in your contracts or by agreement where you can have the hearing in a month and get it done and it’s binding. So it’s very effective if you want something resolved quickly between the parties. Usually based on the contract and not just equity, but it’s based perhaps a little bit more on the general relationships to the parties and not strictly by all the procedural things that we do in court, limited discovery. It’s pretty fast in most cases.
Fact finding is you appoint somebody to go out who both parties respect and they interview everybody. They create a report which may be confidential or not. If it is not confidential then it can be essentially binding by a third party the thing can be used in future litigation or discussion. The hearing officer, we talked about minority contractors and subcontractors of all kinds. When there’s a substitution, often the public agency will appoint a hearing officer. And you can some influence on who that hearing officer is to determine whether a substitution of the sub is appropriate or not. Also hearing officers here bid. So again it’s not strictly in the court system, it’s appointed by the city or the County and you get your result.
The judicial referee. There are a variety of stripes of those, but they can be appointed by the court, and they can handle a variety of things. They can handle just discovery or they can handle hearing a lot of technical evidence or a lot of accounting evidence. And generally the people that are appointed have a specialization. They report back to the court. The court can adopt their findings if they wish. It’s a very effective way because then you can schedule their time, you don’t have to wait for the court to have a hearing date, you can schedule it earlier. There’s a court appointed one which is 639 and 638 which is the one that’s in California at least, which is agreed to by the parties.
Standby arbitration, there’s a lot of provisions that say if we have a dispute, here’s our panel and we’ll go to them quickly, even within 48 to 72 hours. It’s one of those things that can be very effective. It’s also something that you can use in labor disputes. Special master often is assigned discovery responsibilities in an ongoing case. But a special master can be appointed to oversee all sorts of types of projects. A special master could be appointed essentially to watch over the accounting for a particular project, or the payment flows on a particular project. And the court can do that. Often the parties will agree to that. And finally, if things really go South you end up with a bankruptcy trustee. Now that doesn’t seem like alternative dispute resolution. It turns out a bankruptcy trustee has a tremendous amount of power in equity to be able to adjust people’s rights and adjust the payment plan in a 13 or an 11 or a nine. And then if you actually have to go to a liquidation, they can manage that too. But that’s an option with a lot of these projects that go South.
Because the parties can in fact attempt to put a company or a developer into involuntary bankruptcy. And then in that situation, the bankruptcy trustee and bankruptcy judge exercise a lot of discretion. So we can have some question and answers now if we have some more listed. But again, I’ve done dispute resolution all over the world. We had a very large case last January with the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York city. I do work all over California in bridges and small things too. I’ve done everything from a $250 million dispute on a bridge, down to fighting over a Turkish rug that was hand knitted in Turkey but didn’t necessarily quite meet the pattern of the heiress that was wanting it, a $200,000 rug. I got involved in that too. So anything that involves construction or design I’m most interested in.
Seth : Well Ernest, I really want to thank you today. You provided a lot of good information to all our participants, to myself. I learned a lot today. And again, my name is Seth Bloom, I’m the senior director of attorney services here. And what I want…that we look forward to doing a lot of these webinars so they can tune in and see when we’re going to do them. We do a lot in California. You can tell your contemporaries in other States or even different cities and we’ll be doing webinars all over the country. So we’re really excited about it. Any other-
Ernest : Well thank you, thank you Seth. And if anybody’s wondering, that’s my old man’s surveying equipment over my shoulder. So I try to keep it to remember what Levelset, if you will, is about. But doing things right.
Seth : And also our participants should keep asking questions on the expert center, the expert center’s absolutely free. It’s just an opportunity for people in the construction industry to ask questions, general questions and get some general answers from lawyers in your area. And then hopefully get you to set up a relationship with these lawyers like Mr. Brown, who has tons of experience and can really answer your questions. I see we only have a few more minutes but that they want to participate and ask some questions. So let me find them. And I will put them up.
Brian: My question is that we’ve got dispute resolution clauses in our contracts. Do you have to file suit in court? Is it a way to limit the dollars of exposure to at least threaten another level of collection activity?
Ernest : Well, I think a couple things out of that. One of the things I really like doing when I draft a contract is to say, when things become a matter of arbitration or not. Let me give an example. Back when I represented architects and engineers many years ago, I said any dispute of under $50,000 would be arbitrated. And the reason was arbitration is quick, not much discovery and you’d get an early result. Most of the disputes under $50,000 were going to be fee disputes or the architect or engineer wanting to collect money.
If they were over $50,000 they might be a claim against the ENO policy, and the ENO carriers did not want it to be fast or easy, and they want to do lots of discovery. The other thing is, do you have to file a lawsuit to use ADR? Well, generally the time limits keep ticking. So if you can’t get the other side to agree to toll the statute or extend the statute, and that’s not easy for public agencies to do, then you got to go ahead and follow the traditional rules and file when you need to file at whatever level you want to file. But that doesn’t mean you can’t in parallel do mediation, or even some of these other things. So I don’t know if I heard all your question, but that’s generally what I’ve done.
How to find an arbitrator
Seth : Well, thanks Ernest. We have, Kathleen was able to write down her question. She has a situation where she needs to find an arbitrator. The other side owes her arbitration. So how does she find an arbitrator or force that issue?
Ernest : Well, obviously I do that work. That’s a shameless advertisement, I guess.
Seth : That’s okay. That’s what we’re here for.
Ernest : But what I do, is I’m a member of the American Arbitration Association Instruction Panel, and depending on what part of the country is and how much the dispute is, you can go to the AAA and look at their list online for both arbitrators and mediators. And that works out well. In addition, there are in States like California, a list of arbitrators that are appointed for public works. And in California specifically the Office of Administrative Hearings, which is part of the State of California, maintains a list of, I think there are 30 of us that are qualified as their construction arbitrators. So most States have similar a list, local bar association. And there are other types of providers out there as well. Judicial arbitration, mediation service is one of them. And just important to look at their rates, their administrative cost and what their cancellation fees are. If you settle the case without a hearing, do you have to pay for four weeks worth of hearings anyway? Those are the things in the fine print that can surprise people.
Seth : Well, again, I think that’s all the questions we have for now. So I want to thank you again, Earnest. And people call Mr. Brown if you have any questions. Ask us a question on the expert center. Again, we’re here to help. Tell other people in the industry what the expert center is. It’s a totally free service. And we’re happy to have you today. We look forward to more webinars. And again, thanks so much, Earnest.
Ernest : Thanks Seth.