Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Lawyer's Perspective: The Value of Legal Knowledge

People love to say that "knowledge is power." I will add to or condition that little phrase by stating that legal knowledge is merely potential power when applied at or in the right place, time, and circumstance. So let's look at those qualifiers, one at a time:

1. Timing is everything. Legally, timing is something often overlooked in the equation of problem solving. Opportunities are often missed because of poor timing. Too soon or too late can mean the difference between success and failure.

TOO SOON-If you rush in (make a statement, discuss the case with the Judge or prosecutor, file a motion) before gathering all the information, facts, and context you may leave out an important detail. I have been guilty on more than one occasion of "jumping the gun." Going into a problem, headstrong, without listening, without full disclosure, and without taking the time to know is the first error of the novice.

TOO LATE-That said, motions to challenge, motions to dismiss, motions to compel, and all other legal motions must follow deadlines. I have seen lawyers who were unable to raise issues because they waited too long. Most simply put, "You snooze, you lose."

2. Being at the right place.  In real estate they say, location, location, location. Being in the right place really refers to knowing where you are and who you are dealing with. Depending upon your "forum," where you are located can dictate and/or delineate the limits of your box. In other words, what you can do or not do, say or not say. Different Courts, different judges, and different prosecutors all have their own philosophies, policies, and personal leanings. It is a scary and dangerous thing to go in someplace unfamiliar only to learn too late that one fact in particular will kill your case. I often have other out of state/out of county/out of the area lawyers call me and ask about a Court I go to frequently. No professional wants those kind of surprises.

3. Being in the right circumstance. You can't show up to Court on a day or night when they are only beginning cases, without an assistant District Attorney present, and expect to resolve your case (get an offer). Everyone has to follow that Court's procedures. Most Courts have specific days of the month where cases are discussed and negotiated. 

Keep these things in mind before bringing, applying, and raising knowledge of the law. Using power (knowledge) at the right time, place, and circumstances can tilt the scales in your favor. Remember that overall, in or out of the Courts of law knowledge (infromation) will have greater value and greater weight when leveraged by following the above precepts.