“That’s not fair.”

I have been hearing that phrase more and more lately with my two boys. In most cases, what they really mean is “I don’t like that,” but there are some cases when my treatment of two similar situations is inconsistent and I am happy to entertain that challenge. Being fair as a parent (or a manager) is important.

Someone used a similar line on me recently, “Well, that’s what others do.” This may not sound the same at first, but it is the other side of the coin – “See, I am being fair.” The statement was meant to reinforce consistency.

Nine out of ten teenagers like to use this kind of social proof. “Billy’s mom is letting him juggle chainsaws in the talent show. Why can’t I?”

These all involve a code of common law. “Look at the common facts in this case as compared to these other similar cases. You can clearly see, your honor, that in all fairness, we must treat these same.” Agreeing on the facts is what courts spend the majority of time doing.

My point: Make sure the facts and the other cases are really the same. And if they are, be sure to clearly explain that to the opposing counsel. It’s only fair.

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