3 Quick Tips To Protect Yourself Legally

Being a litigator and dealing mostly with business related issues, I come across a lot of instances where either my client or the opposing client could have avoided a huge mess by simply being smarter about the way he or she approached the situation.  It’s very easy for me to say that however because as an attorney I see examples of such mistakes on a very regular basis.  So how can a layperson better protect themselves legally on a day to day basis?  Here are three quick tips that are easy to implement and can save you a lot of potential headache in the future:

Shut The Fuck Up

Always Say Less Than Necessary

When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”

―Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

When in doubt, which should be often if you are not an attorney, just stop talking.  As an example let’s say you get into a car accident.  The police come and ask if you are ok and you feel fine at that moment, so you say “Yeah yeah I’m fine.”  Next morning you wake up and your neck and back are killing you as these injuries did not materialize immediately after the incident because you were still in shock.  Now when you go to make your claim, the insurance company will lock itself to those four words you stated to the police and try to make it seem you are feigning your injuries.

You really don’t have to talk to anyone.  Even if the cops show up to an accident scene, you don’t have to talk to them.  You don’t have to talk to your own insurance company.  Lawyer up and let him do the talking for you.

This applies in other settings as well.  Striking a business deal?  Don’t promise the world to him and later open yourself up to claims of misrepresentation and fraud.  Of course it’s not always possible to just be silent, so when you do have to talk, make sure to…

Always Confirm In Writing

Don’t let things fall into the he said/she said crap.  An email is forever, and it can help save you months of litigation and expense if it takes something that is open to interpretation and clearly establishes a disputed fact.  Moving into a new apartment? Email a list of the damaged items to the manager instead of telling him over the telephone.  Now when you move out he can’t charge you for these things.  Reached a verbal agreement for the delivery of some goods or services?  Confirm it with an email so there is no question as to what the deal was in the future.

I’ll also share a tactic I use often when confirming things in writing.  Which of the following is more effective?

Thanks Jeff.  Please confirm that if payment is made within 30 days my company will receive 10% off the final invoice.


Thanks Jeff.  This email confirms that if payment is made within 30 days my company will receive 10% off the final invoice.

In the first instance, if Jeff does not email you back then he can claim he never “confirmed” the discount and challenge it later.  In the latter, the onus is on him so if he doesn’t respond, that is essentially acquiescence to your terms.  You can even bolster the second sentence and throw in a “If this is not your understanding please email me immediately.”

Ambiguity Can Be Your Friend

There are certain instances however where you do not want to be so direct and clear in your writing or your words.  Using words or phrases such as “it seems” or “it appears” or “based on my knowledge” can allow you some wiggle room in the future if you need to change your position on something.  As a very basic example, compare these two statements in response to the question “What did the company promise you when you were hired?”

Guaranteed salary of $5k/month, a tiered bonus structure, and a medical/dental plan.


From what I remember, I believe a guaranteed salary of $5k/month, a tiered bonus structure, and a medical/dental plan.

Afterwards you recall your company also stated you would get 10 days vacation per year.  Now when you go back to supplement your response, under the first variation you can be met with some resistance for not stating it at that time.  Under the second variation, you have already provided yourself with a means to supplement your response by having qualifiers indicating the response may not be complete.


While this may seem like common sense, a lot of people tend to actually do the opposite of what is stated above.  People think they must explain themselves thoroughly to defend their position, where in reality they can be creating themselves a bigger hole by talking too much.  Similarly people think that if they can’t recall everything they are better off acting as they do and giving a complete answer, whereas giving yourself room to supplement is usually the better course of action.  It’s always better to actually hire an attorney — but for the times you can’t these three quick tips should help.

Read Next: 5 Honest Hiring Tips From Someone Who Hires

35 thoughts on “3 Quick Tips To Protect Yourself Legally”

  1. Thanks for the essay. As Judge Wampner of “The People’s Court” says : No verbal agreement, either expressed or implied, is binding n a court of law. Also your quote from the 48 Laws of Power reminds me to dust it off.
    Otherwise a minor nit : use of the phrase “he or she”. This just destroys otherwise well-written prose. Often in reading a sales or technical book I encounter this supplication to feminists and the work loses credibility and interest. Recommend changing it to “they”.

    1. I recommend using the generic masculine pronoun, “he”. This was the standard for centuries before feminism. The problem with “they” is that it doesn’t really work when referring to an individual – it is plural.

      1. I agree, but editors for many journals and books insist on throwing bones to feminist dogs. Writers intent on getting published often make concessions to get in print.

        1. we have saying in my village. if you throw bone to dog he will eat it.

    2. Actually, a verbal agreement is enforceable in a court of law in most instances (assuming it isn’t specifically prohibited like for the sale of land). However, unless both parties agree on the terms, even a great lawyer will have a difficult time proving the case…fwiw

      1. Yes for example in California you can have oral contracts. They are just more annoying to deal with if you are trying to enforce one.

        1. wow, you learned a legal term…good for you… Though state laws can be different, generally, the statute of frauds only applies to very specific circumstances outlined in the statute…hence the name, genius

        2. Looks like we have some teen here folks. Some snotnose who thinks because we gave him a PC that he actually knows something lol It amazing how we can always tell the mental age of these punk kids.

    3. I understand your distaste with using “he or she” under the assumption I am supplicating to feminist desires. However this was on purpose. Female clients can be both wonderful to have (for injury cases, they are more sympathetic to juries especially if they are young and attractive), as well as wonderful to be up against (erratic, rely on emotion and shoot themselves in the foot often). Thus the use of both “he and she.”
      If you notice later in the article, I state “Lawyer up and let him do the talking for you.” That’s because I strongly believe female lawyers, absent a few minor exceptions, are horrible. I would only hire a male attorney. Thus the use of only “him” here as opposed to “him or her.”

  2. I propose that ROK set up an additional category called “Legal” for articles such as this. Another factor contributing to making life in the usa more stressful is the fact that the states is litigously entitled. You can be sued for literally no fucking reason today, literally. This includes false paternity suits allowed to go on with the courts defaulting judgement against the accused – the accused being a man of course. In other cases there are men doing jail time for things that should be misdomeanors – like forgetting to fill out some form or not using the correct packaging to ship goods. The Heritage Foundation follows over criminalization and some of the stories are downright scary because they are real, not made up, and enforced by the Federal Government which is becoming more Sovietized everyday. http://www.heritage.org/issues/legal/overcriminalization

    1. Well if you’re too stupid to respond to any summons and complaint then you will default on it.It’s your own fault and there are plenty of these incompetent men’s rights morons who ignore summons and then cry for the rest of their lives about it.
      And btw, a misdemeanor is a crime and I never heard of anyone who was charged just because they forgot to fill out some routine form, unless it was their income tax form.

  3. Tip #2 is also effective for gaming. As long as she doesn’t give you clear signals of discomfort (“yellow light”), escalate away.

  4. Know someone who is a top lawyer and head cop in your state and you’re good. Unfortunately, it is the rich and politicians that do this.

  5. #4 Play victim like hell
    Works wonders, especially if you live in the West. I’ve intimidated several people out of serious legal action just by calling them racist or homophobic over and over and over, even though I knew inside that I was the aggressor in all those situations. Use words like “discriminate”, “harass”, “prejudice” and all that liberal feelings shit management types are obligated to care about. Often just by claiming victimhood first before the other guy, people automatically sympathize more with you.
    …may not work for white guys.

    1. That bullshit only works on TV kid.And you couldn’t even intimidate my 100yo grandmother with your childish crap lol If I have reason to sue you, you’re going to be sued unless you settle with me.

  6. If you are 18 or above you need:
    1. Will and living will/power of attorney
    2. $1M umbrella liability insurance policy on yourself

    1. Another poor geek who has no idea what he’s talking about.
      An umbrella policy is not ON yourself. It’s to protect your assets with insurance.eg. I carry $300k liability insurance(also uninsured and under insured motorists to protect against poor slobs who either have no insurance or not enough to cover any damage they do to me) just for my auto and another $3M umbrella policy to cover any excess over that limit.So if some drunk illegal walks in front of my car and gets crippled I can cover it.
      And before you start talking about Wills you’re going to need some assets first lol

  7. great article … you missed out the best one of all…. the best defense is an offense……
    if there’s any legal shit being thrown against you, start slinging legal shit back…. even if you have to almost make stuff up, it’s scarey to get official letters, court summons etc….
    most people back down pretty quick if you start firing legal bombs their way….. just the hassle factor of going to court makes many people back off on small claims and such they are making against you…. when you start firing your own claims at them….

    1. Go play you video game little man. Try suing people and see what happens when you can’t prove your case. The burden of proof is on YOU in civil cases. If you tried that with me I’d simply file an Answer and a counter claim. You’d end up paying all court costs, my costs and damages for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Not to mention the punitive damages that I’d demand.

  8. Maintain separate Email accounts for your business and personal life and NEVER mix them. NEVER send/forward anything from your business account that you would be embarrassed to have your grandmother read out loud in church.

  9. This is funny. A bunch of clueless poor nerds taking advice from some kid who is likely a burger flipper lol
    And btw, an e-mail is like throwing a letter over a wall. You had better confirm anything you do using certified mail (or something similar) and have all terms in writing, dated and signed from the person you’re doing business with.
    @Elmer-there’s a reason why Wapner is in the armpit of the judicial system-small claims. You can’t go any lower than that and it’s where they put the dumb or incompetent judges who aren’t good enough for the criminal division. Since it’s only about small sums of money it doesn’t take too much in the brains dept. and they can’t do much harm there.The court is there to settle cases fast and a so called trial takes 10 minutes in general. If you don’t like the decision you can appeal it to a higher court if you think it’s worth it but since it’s for small sums it’s not worth it.
    An oral contract may be valid especially if you had a couple of witnesses. Marriage is an oral contract which is why 2 witnesses are required. )of course you must also sign the register and get a license)However, just the 2 witnesses and an official would be enough for a valid marriage.

  10. With regards to putting things in writing, should I have a notary on retainer? When should I use one?

    1. Basically, a notary prevents the other person from later denying that they signed a document. I can’t think of a need to have your signature notarized. Of course, laws are state specific, so I certainly can’t speak for every state.

  11. Get in the habit of saying “My understanding is X” instead of “X is so.”
    For example, “My understanding is that George will quit if he doesn’t get a raise.” Compare this to “George will quit if he doesn’t get a raise.”
    The first sentence is just your understanding. It could turn out later that you’re wrong, but so what? It was just your “understanding” — you never said you were right.
    The second sentence represents an absolute statement — a guarantee, even — of fact. If it turns out later you were wrong you lose credibility and may be subject to blame if someone made a decision based on that information.
    It’s a small distinction but an important one.
    I’ve gotten a LOT of mileage out of this one. You will too.

  12. Dr.Joyboy – what is your deal – you have nothing better to do then cherry pick and mock people? This is why the world hates lawyers – they dont let anything get done when it comes to progress and business – jsut sit around opening cans of worms and hypothetical scenarios. Joyboy mocks “nerds” that are posting – umm wtf are you doing loser?

  13. If you think that without your little “promotions” and comments then the woman will surely fall apart, then what kind of a woman are you dating?

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