Count the Cost

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“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?  Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.  They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’  Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him?  And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away.” ~ Luke 14:28-32 NLT

Jesus is telling his followers to be ready to follow him completely, but to know what they’re getting into so that they can finish what they start.  Even so, the principle of counting the cost before beginning a project or starting a fight (even in court) is a sound one.

Before you hire a lawyer or go to court, consider:

  • What do you stand to gain if you win?

No wrongful death suit can bring back a loved one.  No breach of contract suit will make your former business partner honorable.  No wrongful termination or harassment suit will make your former employer nice to work for.  Understand that, by and large, court is about money.  There are things money can and can’t do.

  • What do you stand to lose?

Will you lose a friendship that might have been saved if you had just taken a loss?  Will your name be dragged through the mud in public trial?  Will you risk a much longer or more severe prison sentence if you don’t compromise?  What are you willing to risk?  No attorney can ethically guarantee an outcome in any case.  Juries and judges can be fickle and unpredictable and the outcome can sometimes hinge on a trivial fact that no one in the case thought was important but somehow swung the case.

  • What will you pay?

Certainly your attorney needs to be compensated for his time and expertise, but you may give up valuable time away from work and family in order to prepare and conduct your case.  You may have to expend your resources paying court fees, gathering the evidence for your case, and paying other costs associated with bringing your case to court.  You will likely spend sleepless nights and stressful days worrying about your case until it is resolved.

Our criminal and civil justice systems are the bedrock of a civil society and keep us from being tempted to take the law into our own hands.  But they are an imperfect and incomplete form of justice.  The costs of going to court or taking a case to trial are not just monetary.  Consider the costs.  If it’s still worth it, contact me.


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