When people don’t care about the law

I think one of the most frustrating things about being a lawyer is probably the number of people who don’t follow the law. And I’m not talking about criminals here. I’m talking about places like banks who don’t follow any of the rules that I learned in Commercial Law. (A signed check is bearer paper…except the bank won’t take it.)

I’m talking about the police who make up whether or not somebody has squatter’s rights, and won’t evict trespassers from somebody’s property, even though squatter’s rights isn’t a thing in the state where I practice. The police made my client in her 80s go downtown, file an eviction proceeding, and jump through legal hoops because they didn’t know the law.

I’m talking about banks who won’t accept a power of attorney, or who require a letter from the POA to have a medallion guarantee stating the POA is still valid, every single time you go to do something on a client’s behalf. I’m talking about banks who routinely lose powers of attorney, or demand an original notarized copy with a raised seal even though the document and the law state that a photocopy shall be sufficient.

I’m talking about landlords who do not move with expediency to repair dangerous defects and who refuse to accept certified mail because they know it’s a rent escrow action, even though you can take them to court, because they know that in the amount of time it would take you to take them to court, they can fix the problem.

It’s nearly impossible to get a decent legal remedy in some of these situations, because it’s almost always easier and faster to jump through their hoops than to go to court. I’m not sure if the problem here is the snail’s pace of the legal system, or something else. But it has been extremely frustrating to feel as if I am in this kind of unequal bargaining system in which everybody else has something I need, and I’m powerless to get it, even though I’m legally entitled to it. Has anyone else experienced this? How do you get past it?

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