Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Being In the Emergency Business

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | February 20, 2019

No. 1,616

The country is now enthralled in a discussion regarding whether a porous Southern border constitutes a national emergency.  A common definition of an emergency is a serious condition that requires immediate action. Whether the open expanses along the national border constitute an emergency under a 1976 statute will now be addressed by the courts. But if the legal issues are not decided legally by the Supreme Court, they may be resolved politically in the next election.

Border security may well be the determining factor in 2020. That outcome is not assured and could be shaped, one way or the other, by unpredictable events. If the Democrats retake the White House, the legal controversy will probably become moot after a new President revokes Trump’s Executive Order on January 21, 2020.

In the meantime, we can only wait for the Supreme Court.

In reality, all litigation is an emergency. Unless a suitable settlement can be reached, somebody is going to lose. At stake are freedom, property, money and other rights.  And the clock is always ticking.  Sometimes the resolution is measured in days, but others in years.  Emergencies can unravel swiftly or slowly and still be urgent.

Lawyers, especially trial lawyers, are in the  emergency business.  They are often required to analyze problems and act on the spot.  In order to do this effectively, they must have the appropriate knowledge and experience.  Most of that is gained on the job. But judgment and temperament are also required. So is the ability to counsel, console and reassure the client. Lawyers with these skills have been likened to social workers and clergy. Sometimes, it seems to me, grief counselor is more appropriate.

Just like a fireman or other first responder, the next emergency for a lawyer is only one ring of the telephone away.





CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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