Neighbor’s goats in your tree? Call a lawyer!
Once upon a time, everyone acted like idiots. It was truly shameful.
Then came the law. As a (former) lawyer, The Bear holds the law in high esteem. Now, people with grievances still acted like idiots, for the most part, but it’s a lot less fun at $300 per billable hour. Even before the billable hour, lawyers invented something they like to call “client control.” (At first, large clubs were used, but those are no longer allowed.)
(Client control for non-paying clients, such as a methamphetamine cook rolled up in a federal conspiracy is a true art form.)
It’s okay to blow off steam, but only in your lawyer’s office. The lawyer is used to it, and, besides, he’s getting paid to watch his client chew the scenery. The client soon discovers why his lawyer’s face assumes a pleasant, far-away expression. He learns the quicker he gets in and out, the cheaper. And, the lawyer rests easier knowing his client has been conditioned to leave the job in his capable hands, not pasting threatening notes together that will become defense exhibits A through Q.
Then, the lawyers, who have a great incentive not to act like idiots within their profession (their license) work things out. They’ll even go to trial if they absolutely must. (Expensive for the client and uncertain for the lawyer). The best part is that the judge and the jury don’t care as much about some limb hanging over the property line as the parties. They don’t think the case is worth nearly what the plaintiff does.
And, though they’ll do the job they are paid to, and do it with zeal and diligence, if they’re good, which most of them are, the lawyers’ concern over that overhanging branch does not, admittedly, burn with the same white-hot heat of their clients.
Mostly, lawyers are there to deliver the bad news that the tree limb over the property line - if it is over the property line - is really not worth three million dollars in “sunlight deprivation.” It is a rare moment in the legal profession when a lawyer gets to make someone really, really happy. Today’s “not guilty” verdict for a triple ax murder is tomorrow’s discouraging answer about a 20 million false imprisonment lawsuit. (Some lawyers may recall Jay Foonberg’s all-too-true Client’s Gratitude Curve.)
You see, the law, when it works, is really a mechanism to take highly emotional and contentious issues out of the hands of the people least qualified to resolve them - the ones who stand to gain or lose and hate the other party. (See first sentence of the piece.)
If everyone were perfectly reasonable, lawyers, whom it is fashionable to hate, would be out of jobs. But, thanks to lawyers, people don’t run around willy-nilly sawing off tree limbs or killing each other in vendettas.
So, as long as the Bear is not involved in a case, he says let the lawyers come to some reasonable settlement that will probably make none of the parties happy, or, if the parties insist, go to trial, which will at least make the trial lawyers happy, because they will get to jump to their feet and yell, “Objection! Rule in Queen Caroline’s Case!” and otherwise have a fine old time.