Over my many years of practice, I’ve learned that the simplest solution to a difficult legal problem is to listen to the parties involved.
Often, people just want to know that they are being heard and have a right to their emotions. The “win” doesn’t always mean hashing it out in court. Sure, going to court could work. In my experience, there’s often an easier and simpler way to get a desired result.
Let’s face it, in most situations, no one wants to be in a legal battle. The parties are usually frustrated, angry, confused or scared. I’ve discovered that folks just want to be treated with respect; and they want to be heard and acknowledged. It is about dealing with people as human beings
Ignore their feelings and the chances of a contentious fight is far more likely. This only serves to drain everyone’s time and resources.
A good example of this was a case that our firm recently handled. A man had died in the family home. Our client was the surviving brother. The deceased brother was a hoarder, and the inside of the house was a mess. The brother just wanted to clean out the house and sell the property as soon as possible. The property was subject to a reverse mortgage, that was costing our client $1,500 in interest per month.
The deceased had a daughter who was left the contents of the house. Whatever her reason, she was uncooperative and would not clear out the contents of the house.
The brother became so frustrated with the situation, that he felt compelled to contact us. After we understood the facts of the dispute, we decided that a harsh legal letter could backfire. Instead, we reached out to her with an acknowledgement of her pain and grief while reminding her that her inaction wasn’t helping the situation.
Within six weeks, the contents were out and our client was able to put house on the market.
Before seeing us, our client had gone to another lawyer for advice. He was told it could take more than a year to solve the problem and likely end up going to court.
Instead of a year of frustrating and expensive legal maneuvering, the dispute was resolved in less than two months. What could have taken over a year of legal back and forth, was solved quickly and easily. Our client was so pleased that he voluntarily paid us 50% over and above the fee we charged him.
This wasn’t a dispute about legal points. It was about a family going through a difficult period after the loss of a loved one. We succeeded because we applied the human touch, instead of a legal brief. It wasn’t so much about legal facts, or blame. We were truly were sorry for her loss. That made all the difference.