The Law Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings

Sad Face by wlodi from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Sad Face by wlodi from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: The law doesn’t give a fuck about your feelings.

I get a lot of phone calls and emails from people who are sad, angry, afraid, or filled with regret and they ask me if there are any legal options for their problems. The law doesn’t provide recourse when you’re sad. The law provides recourse when your rights have been violated.

And don’t assume that just because your feelings are hurt that your rights must have been violated. With most people I talk to, that’s not the case.

The law doesn’t care about your feelings. It cares about your rights – and only when you can actually prove it.

Before I went to law school, I worked in the mental health industry for nine years. Believe it or not, I was a Licensed Professional Counselor. I talked to people about their feelings for a living. (And there’s a reason I don’t do it anymore – I’d rather be more hands-on in the problem-solving process.) I probably get just as many calls from people who want to talk about their feelings now as I did back then. A lot of people call lawyers when they should be calling therapists. They’re looking for a magical answer to make things the way they wish they could be. I’m sorry, but most of the time, the law doesn’t do this.

In general, the law is a bad course of action to resolve a non-criminal problem. It should be the option last resort because the process could easily take months or years during which you will spend thousands of dollars in legal fees. Even if you win – and there’s no guarantee – you may never collect. It’s a long process, filled with stress and heartache – no matter which side you’re on.

If you think you have a legal problem should you consult a lawyer? Yes. But don’t be surprised if lawyer tells you that there isn’t a legal solution to your problem.

In my perfect world, people would consult a lawyer before problems happen. Many times when I consult with clients, I’m providing as much information about business strategies and considering the gestalt of a situation, not just giving legal advice. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to prevent and prepare for problems than untangle legal knots and clean up avoidable messes.

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