December 29, 2012

Starting a new year... with transition in view

Read/Post Comments (0)

     Transitions expected to take place in a new year may be desirable, or not, and inevitable, or not. The desirability and inevitability, or certainty, of expected events –especially those related to personal relationships, health, aging, and economics, and/or simple passage of time, can be under some control, depending on how one faces change —which often is the result of past choices and decisions.

Where I've been: War stories.

     A lawyer, considering past choices and decisions, is tempted to focus on the big cases, following them to resolution, through creative use of the law, taking risks, and fighting battles with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to a blatantly favorable conclusion. In looking back, after thirty years, those stories are there. But placing the focus on helping a client, which is what lawyers are supposed to do, the story might be much more simplistic. And yet meaningful.

      1. The nurse/wife sat in a chair behind her husband, on the other side of the room out of truck driver/husband's view. Their jobs were relevant only because their jobs impacted their approach to daily life. Husband sat facing me across the table. Wife had convinced him to visit with her lawyer just to answer questions regarding legal matters they might want to consider as a result of their recent marriage, and consolidation of their assets. She wanted reassurance from both him, and me, that there weren't unforeseen problems. They were in their early forties, never married, no children, and each had been employed long enough to have their own way of doing things, and to accumulate property and debts. As her husband and I talked, I could see her face becoming more and more flushed. He mentioned a dispute he had with someone, and when he didn't remember how it was resolved, I typed his name into a search engine on my computer. One thing led to another, and I found that this truck driver had ignored law suits filed against him in six states. His wife joined the discussion and we talked about the ramifications of being sued, and ignoring the law suit. It wasn't long before the couple was ready to conclude their conference.

     The "estate planning" for this couple turned out to be an annulment of their marriage, but not their relationship.

     2. Another client had concerns about one of his neighbors. The mom was the breadwinner, and worked long hours every day. Dad stayed home usually alone, with the three young children. He enjoyed shooting his guns in their back yard and encouraged his children to shoot, too. The target practice area was not predictable, well defined, or consistently monitored. Now and then gun shots zoomed across my client's back yard. There was a grove of walnut trees nearby where the neighbor took his children to practice shooting. The client's pets playing in his own back yard had been shot with pellets appearing to be from a BB gun. The neighbor was not belligerent, but also not friendly. He was morose and the client's efforts to communicate with him were not successful. Client and his wife found him to be morose and withdrawn, and the wife to be defensive and protective. Clients feared reprisal if they were to be more aggressive, involve law enforcement, city agencies, or take legal action.

     There was nothing I could do for this client in this matter –except suggest that they keep good records of any and all incidents, including veterinary records of their pets' injuries, and dated and timed photographs of trees and other target areas. This client and his family ultimately moved from the neighborhood.

Solutions to some problems often have to be stand back, and wait.

Posted by Peggy S. Hedrick at 1:46pm

Click here to comment: