I cannot resist another classic film reference, and if you have not seen “The Searchers,” you need to. John Wayne stars in this 1956 John Ford classic which also features a cast of John Ford regulars. Better yet, the movie has a great theme song sung by the “Sons of the Pioneers:” What makes a man to wander What makes a man to roam? What makes a man leave bed and board And turn his back on home? Ride away (Ride away), ride away (ride away), ride away
As I watched parts of this classic again recently I was struck by the theme song and its haunting question as to what leads a person to do what they do. In my work as an attorney I am constantly asking myself this question as I attempt to determine what is it that motivates people to take the action they do. Sometimes I think it is ignorance, and sometimes I think it is anger, and sometimes I think it is a need for justice. Each can be powerful motivators, and each can lead to substantially different outcomes.Too often I think people act out of ignorance of the law and the consequences of their actions. I cannot tell you how many times a person has told me what I consider an “urban myth” in order to justify what they have done. For example, in the family law arena, I will often find that one spouse simply cannot move past the fact that property accrued during a marriage is generally marital, and that spouse will sometimes dissipate that marital property not realizing that a court will often order them to make restitution to the other spouse. Or one spouse will allow the other to modify parenting time or the child support order without documenting that change and will later act surprised when they learn how this can have far repercussions beyond what they originally thought.Similarly, people often act out of anger, and when they do so they are frequently blind to the consequences. As a fellow attorney once said, “litigation is the sport of kings,” and some days I cannot agree more. Whether it is in a business sense and a contract negotiation, or the enforcement of a legal right I always caution those I work with to view their situation as dispassionately as possible so that anger does not cloud their actions. It is so important to ask what result an action taken in anger will have because a seemingly minor retaliatory act can reverberate far beyond the moment. This is why good attorneys are more than legal counsel; they also provide personal counsel.Lastly, we all want justice, but at what price? On occasion you have to simply “ride away,” but I do believe there are causes that mandate a fight. Whether you have an issue that demands justice is a question for you to discuss with your attorney. If they are good they will provide insight and will help you formulate a plan that accounts for the hurt feelings, ignorance and anger and helps keeps you on track. If we can help you map a route in your journey through life please contact us.