QThis Partner I work with a lot (and really like) borrowed twenty dollars from me last week. He was running late for some dinner meeting and needed a cash for a cab. It’s not a big deal, but it’s been a week and he hasn’t paid me back. Should I ask for the money or just let it go?
AYou spent $150,000 to go to law school and you’re willing to potentially risk your future for 20 bones? Come on, dude, think big. I know it’s annoying and all, but it’s not worth creating an awkward moment for such a small amount of cash. Even if the interaction goes perfectly, and Cheap-Ass Partner apologizes profusely for forgetting about his debt, you’re upside is . . . 20 bucks. (And please, spare me the speech about principles and self-respect and “It’s the right thing to do.” This is business, not freshman year Philosophy!)
On the other hand, if the conversation doesn’t go perfectly, and your polite reminder annoys Cheap-Ass Partner, whammo, you’ve just alienated an important career ally. In this scenario, your downside is . . . who the hell knows? Exclusion from important cases and deals? Average rather than glowing reviews? Passive-aggressive professional interchanges for the rest of your career?
It’s simple. The potential loss here is way, way, way greater than potential profit. So do yourself a favor and do what all the big banks are doing these days—take a charge against your earnings and write off the bad debt.
Next time someone asks for money, just say you’re broke. In case you haven’t noticed yet, lawyers tend to be cheap.