Not only could your rights-based approach be prolonging your settlement, costing you time and money, but it’s probably also heightening your stress and resentment around the dispute.
What do I mean by “rights-based”?
This is when someone wants to enforce their legal rights, angrily and aggressively.
The problems with taking on that sort of attitude is:
- your ‘rights’ as your perceive them may not be legally accurate,
- you are then reliant on the court system for someone else to make a decision about yours ‘rights’, and
- the court system takes a long time, and a lot of money.
Whereas, what’s the alternative?
The alternative is an in interest-based approach.
This is actually thinking about what you want from an outcome, and keeping those interests at the forefront of your mind, such as:
- I want to come out of this financially sound,
- I want to come out of this with my integrity,
- I want to come out of this with some relationships still intact, and
- I want to be able to say and express some things that I haven’t been able to do so far.
Part of the problem is, a lot of lawyers are not trained collaboratively, and do not actually have much conflict resolution training at all.
Lawyers learn the letter of the law ,and how to apply it, which automatically puts most of us into a rights-based sort of position. So when people come to a general lawyer, who hasn’t thought differently about these sorts of things, the lawyer will put you into a peg hole. The lawyer will peg-hole you whether you fit in that hole or not, because they will not ask you what you want, but tell you the pathway that you need to follow. This can be costing you time and money unnecessarily.
There are so many points all the way along in any dispute, where you can negotiate a settlement; where you can pull in a half day mediation to resolve a particular issue.
Unfortunately, there’s a saying amongst lawyers: “If everyone is unhappy, then it’s fair”.
I don’t believe this philosophy should ever apply.
My suggestions are to think deeply about what you actually want, and if being ‘financially sound’ is one of those things, then to talk to a financial planner about what that is for you.
Then, I engagement early stage mediation, and as many as you need to narrow the issues.
But if nothing else, I just want to open your mind to thinking, “Am I being positioned in my matter, by my lawyer? Am I being told what I want instead of thinking about what I want for myself?”