Over the past month, I’ve had several conversations that led me to realize that many licensees, and even some practitioners, do not know what to expect when it comes to working with MLCC and its employees. Specifically, it has become obvious that some of us cannot determine “which side everyone is on.” Here are a few thoughts on our best practices for working with MLCC.
It is not about “Us vs. Them”
As a new attorney, I was lucky enough to begin working with a 40-year veteran of Michigan liquor law, Jim Stariha. Early on, Jim taught me that “you should never look at this with an Us vs. Them mentality.” Instead, it is important to remember that we (licensees, practitioners, commissioners, investigators, and other MLCC employees) are “all in this together.” Commissioners do not sit at violation hearings dreaming up the ways they can suspend a license. Investigators do not visit a licensee with the hopes of finding a basis for shutting them down. As I have heard MLCC employees say in the past – they never want to see a licensee fail a controlled buy.
So what does it mean? First of all, as discussed below, you should never be afraid to ask MLCC employees for help. Additionally, you should attempt to keep a “we are all in this together” mindset in all of your interactions with MLCC. Suing MLCC is always an option of last resort, only to be considered when a mutual effort to resolve the situation fails. Certainly, MLCC employees may make mistakes, however, a cooperative and helpful attitude on the part of a licensee/practitioner will more often than not be the sole remedy required. At the end of the day, we believe the licensing process is easier and smoother when you approach MLCC with a positive attitude and a willingness to work together.
Never be Afraid to Ask for Help
Directly related to the “we are all in this together” mindset is maintaining a willingness to ask questions. I’ve been told by some licensees that they are afraid to call MLCC, or that their interactions with its employees are not always pleasant. In our experience, MLCC employees are almost always willing to assist licensees and practitioners, so long as you approach the situation with a positive attitude and well thought out questions. Because it is not an “us vs. them” situation, MLCC does not want to wait for you to make a mistake and then swoop in to mete out punishment. Instead, they would rather assist you as you decide on a course of action, ensuring that you comply with the statutes and rules from the start. In the end, you can benefit by saving yourself/your client from running afoul of MLCC while simultaneously promoting a good working relationship with liquor control.