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The Truth is Always Somewhere in the Middle
6/29/2012 10:16:17 AM
Observations of an Astonished Paralegal
Observations of an Astonished Paralegal
I’ve learned many interesting tidbits about human nature during my years as a paralegal. Some were expected, and didn’t surprise me at all. Others left me quite surprised and shaking my head in disbelief. I was always quite astonished to find out what others considered normal reactions to difficult legal situations, and how easy it was to create a truth that wasn’t really the truth after all.
More than once clients referred to me as “Erin Brockovich without the cursing”. That was always quite a compliment! Probably the most famous paralegal ever known, she continues to fight extremely hard for people suffering from devastating illnesses and diseases caused by environmental poisons. When they compared me to Ms. Brockovich it was because I didn’t pull any punches, spoke frankly with clients and attorneys, and did what I said I would do. I will never forget what one particular attorney said about me: “If you have something difficult to do, give it to Betty Anne—and then get out of her way!” While working for a general practice firm I never knew what kind of case would cross my desk, and I could always count on meeting interesting, and sometimes complicated individuals.
The most significant lesson I learned early on in my career, and that held true no matter what legal situation a person faced, was that the “real truth” was always somewhere in the middle. No one ever wants to be seen in a way that reflects negatively upon them. You’ve heard something like this: There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth. From minor criminal matters to custody trials, divorce actions to bankruptcy cases—the underlying character issue that I witnessed was a person’s ability to alter the actual truth in order to paint a picture of their own innocence.
I can honestly say that my career taught me to be skeptical of most people, warranted or not. When it comes right down to it I learned that people will lie outright if it will protect them, even if it means hurting a truly innocent person. That always saddened me.
AND—the more desperate the situation, the more outrageous the lies.
The most important observation I want you to take away from this post is that human beings will harm others in order to protect themselves. Sometimes that is called self-defense, and is understandable and expected. Other times it is outright cowardice.
Learn how to tell the difference…
All my best!
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