By David Peel
Life isn’t fair.
Most of us learn this early on.
But there is a part that is really confusing to some. Fairness does not necessary mean the same as equality. Nor justice.
What is the difference between fairness, justice, and equality? Once, when consulting a client about his will, I heard him mention that he wanted to be fair to everyone. I asked him, “Is your goal fairness or equality?” He replied, “I thought those were the same thing! Aren’t they?”
Most people think so. But in reality, fairness and equality are very different. Here’s how I explained it: “Fairness and equality—and ‘justice’ too—are different words with different meanings. Think of the Olympic 100-meter race. You want an equal start. You want a fair race. You want a just result. You don’t want an equal result—in that case the gold medal podium would have to hold eight people. And then what’s the point of running the race?”
A just result—not an equal result—is the most desirable outcome. This is part of what distinguishes me from others in my conservative philosophy of life: I believe in giving people a fair process. They certainly will not have an equal start in real life. Nobody does. My own children start far behind Donald Trump’s children. Yet they are still in the top 10% of worldwide starting positions. Those who want an equal start for all must answer the question: What level of equality? Do we all need to descend to the lowest common denominator? How would such a plan actually work?
In mediation or trial, the goal is not equality. Two individuals can suffer the same injury with dramatically different effects on their lives. While we may be created equal, every personal injury is just that: personal. For instance, one of my fingers has a severe cut that is scarred over, preventing me from feeling anything with the tip of that finger. That doesn’t affect my law practice one iota. But if I were a surgeon, it would be a real problem.
Or take stress and anxiety disorder. If I developed such a malady, there’s no way I could continue my law practice. However, I might be able to work in the back room of a shop by myself, disassembling and reassembling carburetors. Again, personal injury is eminently personal.
The implication is that someone has to take time and get to know the individual. In order to come out with a result the client is happy with, the attorney must establish a relationship.
An attorney needs to care about his clients, for otherwise, no just result can occur.
Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.
By David Peel