Hi, my name is Andrew Weltchek. I’m a partner with the law firm of Cohen, Hochman, and Allen. I practice law in the area of real estate. I help people with transactions, closing deals, financing, or in litigation when they get into trouble and have to go to court, either for themselves or against somebody else.
Today’s riff is in honor of July 4th on law and justice in the United States of America. People come to lawyers because they have a problem. They want to close the deal, in my case, or they have somebody who’s suing them or they need to sue somebody because they’re not getting what they need.
Unfortunately, people too often invest in the courts and the law, judges, and lawyers with more power than they actually have. They are looking for justice. I very often tell people if you want justice, go to the temple, go to church, go to shul. Lenny Bruce was famous for saying that in the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls. That’s an exaggeration but it does get at the fundamental truth that there is more to solving the problem that you may have than asking a judge to rescue you.
It may be an effective part of getting the attention of your opponent in order to negotiate a deal or to limit their options or otherwise create the conditions where your situation or your problem is better — more likely to be solved. But it is not a solution in and of itself. You cannot turn your power over to your lawyer, to the judge, to the legal system as a whole. Your lawyer is not God. The judge is not God.
The legal system and the court system are not God. You are empowered to try to make your solution work by any means necessary. And that includes, for instance, in a co-op or a condo where I do a lot of work, talking to your neighbors. Maybe the problem you have with the board is solved by an election and not by a lawsuit.
That’s a simple example but the point is, today’s lesson in honor of July 4th is, that law and justice come through political action with your fellow citizens who are involved in whatever problem you might have as much, if not more so, than by you individually going to court, thank you.