A lot of people that come to me for legal advice don’t actually need a lawyer. They need a guidance counselor or social worker.
For example, a grad student at a Chicago area school called me because he was worried that he was going to get kicked out for bad behavior. His grades are outstanding, but he nearly came to blows with a classmate, called a teacher a bitch and yelled at the dean when she tried to talk to him about it.
Now the school wants to meet with him and he is hoping a lawyer can save his behind. He’s got a bunch of different ideas that he thinks will help him such as his “knowledge that one teacher used the n word” when talking about another student. This young man with the great grades is an idiot. And I told him as much.
What I said is that he was being his own worst enemy. What he should do is go to the meeting, be as contrite and apologetic as possible, tell them what he’s doing and going to do to improve his behavior and then actually follow through on that. He’s set to graduate this spring. Even if he somehow believes he’s in the right, he needs to tell them that he’s wrong, not make excuses and put himself at their mercy. This wasn’t legal advice. This was life advice.
If he comes in with threats about exposing a teacher or talking about his civil rights being violated (they aren’t by the way), he’s just going to inflame the situation and increase the chances of being kicked out.
Too often people don’t think about how they would react if others took the approach they are thinking of taking. If someone confronts you, the natural reaction would be to put your guard up and act defensive. If you were in a position of power and could get rid of a trouble make, you’d do it with no regrets.
Threatening someone will just make the situation worse. This kid especially is mere months away from graduating and given his good grades, probably even getting a good job despite his lack of interpersonal skills. He needs to put his head down, keep his mouth shut and make it through the next few months without incident.
He admitted I was right, but I’m actually skeptical that he’ll follow it. Hopefully for his sake he will. If he doesn’t, there is no way a year from now he’ll look back and think that he made the right decision. He’ll just think that he got in his own way.
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