1. the latest time or date by which something should be completed.
“the deadline for submissions is February 5th”
2. a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot.
Deadlines induce stress, anxiety and even panic. Deadlines, or rather, meeting deadlines is critical to be successful in life. Projects, bills and responses have deadlines. Sometimes there may be false deadlines, sometimes deadlines may have dire consequences. Knowing the difference is key.
In law school I took Counseling & Negotiation. It was an upper level class taught by an Adjunct Professor, X.M. “Mike” Frascogna. About half way through the semester he made an offer, any student would be guaranteed a “C” if they attended the remaining classes. They did not have to take the final. I recall a student took that offer. I did not consider it.
The final required us to negotiate with the professor for our final grade. There was no set exam. Their were wild stories of students doing wild stunts to get an A. However, one of the lessons that stuck with me was either not allowing the other side to know your deadline or setting a deadline that you know would put pressure on the other side. He told the story of an international negotiation where one person let the other side know he was flying out in 4 days. They wined and dined him, showed him the sights and otherwise occupied his time for 3 1/2 days. On the last day, the traveler agreed to a worse deal because it had to be finalized that day.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Attorney in Mississippi and negotiated his way to an A in Counseling & Negotiation.
Is that person following me? Why am I being called up to the personnel office? You hope against hope that it is not a package from 1) the IRS, or 2) an attorney. The person may be a plain clothes process server you have never seen before or even a sheriff’s deputy or constable. What do you do? Run? Scream? Invoke the Castle Doctrine? No.
Breath. Take the papers. Be polite to that person, as they may later be a witness.
What to do When you get Legal Papers?
1) Take the papers.
2) Review the papers.
3) Make a copy.
4) Take them to an attorney.
“Okay. I took the papers. What next?” Call your lawyer. DO NOT IGNORE THE PAPERS! Do not put them in the car to be forgotten. Do not pile them up with your junk mail.
In most instances the moment you received those papers a potentially critical deadline began to run. That deadline can be from 2 days to 7 to 30 or 45 days, but nonetheless a clock is now ticking.
On numerous occasions I have had a potential client call and say that they have Court on Wednesday. I think, “well…today is Monday they can’t do that.” My next questions is when did you get the papers? “About 2 months ago” Yikes. Don’t do this.
Think of all the anxiety they have put themselves through with the weight of those legal papers on their mind. If you get papers take them to an attorney. Have them reviewed, know what they mean and how you need to respond to them.
Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney. “Leave the drama, take the papers.” (apologies to the Godfather).