Law Office of Robert L. Firth
The Pursuit of Happiness This 4th of July
This 4th of July follow the Declaration of Independence and claim your right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Your Life in Mid-2017
If you’re reading this on the Fourth of July weekend there’s a good chance you have some serious financial problems. Your debts may be overwhelming you. You’re worrying about them all the time.
Odds are you’ve probably been trying to improve your situation for a long time, maybe even for years. It’s really adversely affecting your life. It’s dragging down your personal relationships. You’re worried that the anxiety is harming your health, and then you worry about that, too! It’s hard to feel good about yourself with this all never far from your mind. You aren’t often relaxed or happy.
The Declaration of Independence is now 241 years old. It states at the beginning of the Preamble:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Isn’t it time to follow this self-evident truth: you’re in a vicious cycle and need to find a way to a better life, financial liberty, and the freedom to pursue your life dreams?
Happiness to Pursue
You’d like to be able to afford what you need, what are important to you. You’d like to not be anxious about money all the time. You’d like feel hopeful, to have a future worth looking forward to.
You’d like financial freedom.
The First Step
It’s often true that the first step is the hardest. We often figure that solving a problem will be harder than it actually ends up being. Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised after we take the first step that it’s not as hard as we’d thought. Then afterwards we wish we’d had the nerve to take that first step much earlier. We kick ourselves about how much grief we could have avoided.
So what’s the simple but crucial step here? What do you need to do avoid future unnecessary grief?
Simply find out what your legal options are about your debts.
Move from Fear to Realistic Options
You discover your options by seeing a lawyer who helps people like you solve their consumer and/or business debt problems.
This may be easier than you think. That’s because asking for this kind of help is usually free, at least to get started. Most lawyers who help people with their debts don’t charge for their initial consultation with you.
But Don’t You Just Get What You Pay For—Nothing!?
When you go to the right lawyer you will get valuable information and advice at the free initial consultation. At this meeting you will have the opportunity to tell the lawyer about your situation, your concerns, and your goals. The lawyer will usually outline your most likely legal options, along with their major advantages and disadvantages. This initial meeting is usually extremely valuable.
So why do most lawyers who help consumers and small businesses with debt problems not charge for their initial meeting?
First, let’s admit right from the start that it’s partly a marketing tactic. A lawyer naturally does hope that once you invest the time to meet with him or her you will more likely hire that lawyer if you decide to use a lawyer.
Second, when you’re in financial trouble you likely can’t spare the money to pay for shopping for a lawyer. So most bankruptcy lawyers recognize that they can’t charge for initial consultations. They need to give you a chance to check them out and get advice from them.
Third, most bankruptcy lawyers who serve debtors are genuinely compassionate folk. Most chose to specialize in this area of law for that reason. So they actually do care about you and want to help you have a happier life.
So it’s only sensible to take advantage of their free offer.
At your initial meeting with a lawyer, you’re “just shopping” but doing so seriously. It’s a big investment of your time, so learn as much as you can.
Of course you have absolutely no obligation to continue working with that lawyer. You are asking for information and advice, and maybe looking for a lawyer to help you.
So during and after the initial meeting ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the lawyer listen carefully to you and get all the necessary information about you and your finances?
- Did he or she present your options clearly? Did you have a chance to ask questions about them that were answered in an understandable way?
- Do any of the options sound practical and worth doing?
- Was the lawyer considerate towards you, respectful, help you feel comfortable?
- Was the lawyer knowledgeable but able to communicate in a way that made sense to you?
- Were you comfortable with him or her? Do you feel like you could trust him or her? Were you and the lawyer a good fit?
Don’t Bankruptcy Lawyers Always Recommend Filing Bankruptcy?
No. That would go against their ethical and legal obligations to you.
Lawyers are strictly required to serve you. It is illegal for them to pressure you into any option at all. Their role is to advise you of your options, and your advantages and disadvantages as to each one. They must provide this advice without considering their financial self-interest.
If they do anything different they can be sued for malpractice for giving bad advice (as lawyers quite regularly are). Or they could lose their law license, and thus their livelihood.
This all true even as to a free initial consultation. When you have a lawyer-client relationship, it doesn’t matter what your financial arrangement is with the lawyer.
Crucially, a lawyer’s job is to lay out the options so that YOU can make an informed decision. The lawyer doesn’t tell you what to do or make you do anything. That’s your choice. Sure, the lawyer’s job is to advise you, and usually to make recommendations based on your circumstances. But it’s not to make decisions for you or to make you do anything.
If the lawyer you meet seems to be putting any uncomfortable pressure on you, find another one who respects your appropriate role as the decision-maker.
Take that First Step
On the 5th of July call a lawyer to set up a consultation meeting. And go to that meeting. You will almost certainly come away from it much, much better informed about your options.
You will very likely be able to get out of your vicious cycle and find a way to a better life. You’ll finally get the freedom to pursue happiness.