Though we are most certainly capable, Costa Ricans are more inclined not to confront.
Yes. We get it. People disagree.
But we much prefer a smile, get along and not to pour fuel an any fire in a moment of difficulty.
So when I receive the vitriol from some lawyers whom I must inevitably interact with on behalf of clients, I let it pass.
But sometimes it gets over the top and has a direct effect on unsuspecting clients who have put way too much faith in the law degree so proudly displayed on walls behind desks.
(I also have a degree centered around law… except mine involves guns and uniforms.)
I will restrict this precautionary post to things that only affect ex-pats in need of legal services.
I have friends and family members highly placed in the legal system who I have total faith in.
But there are so many lawyers on the periphery who, while not necessarily intending to do harm, are downright delusional about the imagined prestige and power of that law degree.
As mentioned before, my second home is the Immigration Center, with Citizenship and Registry a close second and third.
Staff there are livid at how they are always confronted by know-it-all lawyers who talk down to them and debate about the rules.
As in, “Hey you’re just a grunt working behind the counter, and I have a law degree.”
Incredibly bad strategy.
Again, let’s be clear… not all lawyers.
But in my own experience, MORE often than not, I see my clients encounter the same condescending stubbornness that ends up costing more time, money and a great deal of stress.
Occasionally I charge the client with obtaining needed documentation that Immigration, Citizenship, National Registry or a bank dictate be formatted and authenticated in a very specific way.
I have had one particular client go into his lawyer four times before finally getting a document processed properly.
All this after I had already properly written up the document for the client and lawyer to simply sign and notarize.
In their arrogance, the lawyer re-wrote the document and then stamped it incorrectly… three times… before finally capitulating to my requests to just do it the way Immigration asks!
The client lived 30 minutes away, and ate up 4 hours in trips back and forth.
If that particular lawyer had handled the Costa Rica residency application, it would have been doomed to several denials and two to three years to process.
Yesterday, when a similar event took place, the furious client demanded his lawyer fix a botched job and personally drive the document to me at Immigration where I was serving three other clients.
When the indignant lawyer arrived smoldering with anger and condescension, they still insisted that the format demanded was wrong and that I did not know what I was doing.
Further… they had called the notary department to confirm the rules.
Later, I submitted the corrected documents to Citizenship on behalf of my client, and they were accepted.
I reconfirmed the rules with the very pleasant and helpful intake staff person after telling him of my earlier encounter.
He went on to tell me that what I just went through with this particular lawyer is what he goes through on a daily basis.
Stubborn condescension are words he used a lot in his lament.
Historically, when I handle everything myself, it gets done properly.
As soon as I have to involve another lawyer, there is an 80% chance of error, ego bolstering arguments, delays, client fear and stress, and ultimately expense.
I am sure there will be heavy incoming on this post from the indignant.
But I trust that this adds perspective to my claim in my advertorial that I can do residencies faster than the vast majority of lawyers engaged in the same service.
In my next blog, I will offer you guidance on how to deal with CAJA.
Written by Laura B. Gutierrez who specializes in getting your residency approved in Costa Rica quicker and more efficiently than any attorney.
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