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Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 11: Something for nothing?

By Quinton Lister, Legal Assistant

Giving without expectation is one of the hardest things to do in this life. I often wonder in our capitalistic society why it is so important to do things for others with the expectation of payment.  

Then I became a legal assistant for a divorce attorney. 

I am amazed at how many people feel entitled to free legal services. Of course, it is true that not everyone who wants something for free is taking advantage of you, but in the case of legal practices, it is often the case. 

I am now beginning to realize that expecting payment for goods and services is not greed. It also serves as a check against abusive behavior. The amount of phone calls and emails I get from other people who are upset and demanding has shown me why it is important not to just do things for free “too much”. Some people have no problem taking advantage of others by milking others for free stuff and free services. Worse, some people who know they can get something for free abuse the privilege and try to ride that gravy train as far as it will take them. Worse, some people use the free stuff and free services to do harm.  

That’s not to say I should never be altruistic. Just the opposite. We all face times when we need help because we can’t help ourselves. But there’s a difference between a hand up and a handout.  

I can see the importance of providing protection against those who would abuse others’ compassion and generosity. Payment can be a form of protection against parasites. An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work does a lot to ward off freeloaders. Paying for what goods and services are worth helps ensure they aren’t wasted and go where they are needed or wanted most. Paying helps us clearly differentiate between needs and wants, requirements and mere conveniences.   

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277 

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