In several years of practicing law, our firm has seen a lot of people in distress.
Some problems are simply unavoidable. However, practicing a few basic principles can make you much less likely to get into legal trouble.
- Know your rights– If you know your legal rights in a situation you are less likely to give in when you shouldn’t, creating a hassle for later. You are also less likely to aggressively defend a position that is unreasonable (or unprovable).
- Choose your battles- another way to say this is “don’t sweat the small stuff”. Unfortunately when it comes to legal issues, it is NOT all small stuff, but a lot of it is. You may be “right” but how much energy to you want to divert to proving it? Decide what’s worth it and what isn’t.
- Listen to others and try to understand– Many, many lawsuits (and divorces) begin because of a misunderstanding that grows until it leads to huge problems. This is why mediation works so well; it allows people to see the situation the way the other side does. And this is why paying attention to people’s feelings is a practical, proactive strategy to stay out of hot water and is not a frivolous waste of time. And why treating people compassionately when you have bad news for them may help prevent them from trying to strike back at you.
- Pay Attention. Read the fine print in contracts, ask questions, ask to get things in writing, ask for clarification and don’t sign or say “yes” until you are sure. If you see trouble on the horizon get legal help before things get out of control and try to stop trouble in its tracks.
- Stay organized & informed- Use all your resources. There is plenty of information available online to guide you. For example, this blog is written with the specific intent of providing helpful information to families and businesses. Other good online resources provide information about governmental regulations, law and risk management procedures. Docket important dates so that you are aware of expiration dates and filing requirements that affect your personal life and your business or profession.
Avoiding trouble can become a lifestyle, in the same way as healthy living. Don’t ignore simmering problems, and don’t hesitate to create strategies to minimize legal risk in your business and personal life.