Procrastination Is Not A Plus

Ms. Faye Riva Cohen
September 30, 2013 — 992 views  

In matters involving the law, procrastination is not a plus. Although one can procrastinate in other areas, persons who sit on their legal rights or do not take action in a timely manner can lose their ability to bring a claim, file a lawsuit or defend themselves. I highly recommend discussing with a lawyer in a speedy fashion, whether you have some legal rights that require action in a certain timeframe. It may seem pretty obvious that if one has a legal question they should consult with a lawyer, and not the Internet, their friend, a relative, or a lawyer practicing outside the jurisdiction where the event occurred, yet I sometimes think that people expect to find the answer to their legal problem in a universe not set in reality. That doesn’t mean that different lawyers will not provide different perspectives on a problem, but at least one is consulting with people who are actually trained in the law.  Some examples in which procrastination can harm one’s legal rights in various areas of the law are:

Employment and Civil Rights:

  • You are on your way to losing your job. If you have had several warnings, suspensions, and/or received a performance improvement plan, consult with a lawyer. Many people think they cannot lose their jobs unless it is for good cause. That is not usually the case. Many people also resign first, and then try to pursue their legal rights. This is a poor idea because it not only limits your ability to start a possible wrongful termination claim at a later date, but it also makes it very difficult to receive unemployment compensation. It is always a poor idea to wait until you are fired to consult a lawyer. If you think you may be fired, consult with a lawyer immediately. It is often too late to raise issues after you are fired, if you have not set the groundwork for them.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination, there are almost always stringent filing or lawsuit deadlines which must be met, so consult with a lawyer. It is also a poor idea to endure problems for years, which often lead to physical or emotional health problems. Determine your legal rights and timelines. Even if you have union representation, union representatives are not generally knowledgeable about civil rights laws and deadlines, and one should therefore seek outside advice in these areas. Do not wait for a grievance or arbitration decision, because that will often result in missing a filing deadline in civil rights cases.        


  • There are usually stringent filing deadlines for filing any sort of disability claims, and if they are missed a claim cannot be brought.
  • There are stringent appeal deadlines for disability claims, and if those deadlines are missed, the claim can no longer be brought, or it can be brought for a shorter time frame and less benefits.

Real Estate:

  • If someone has transferred title into their name illegally, a tenant is living in a house and not paying rent, or someone is illegally squatting, it is important to take action as soon as possible.  Failure to do so could result in that person asserting some legal right to the property over the true owner. If that property belongs to you, your credit can be damaged, and some expenses may become yours if you sit on your legal rights.

Estate and Probate:

  • We frequently receive calls from people who have lost their inheritance because someone  overstepped their legal rights, unduly influenced their relative to leave their property to them instead of the rightful beneficiary, or forged some documents. Some of these people have waited 10 to 15 years to raise this claim. If you feel that you are a victim, contact a lawyer immediately.

Ms. Faye Riva Cohen

Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C.

I am Faye Riva Cohen, Esquire and am a Philadelphia attorney who has been practicing law since 1974. I am the president and managing attorney of both the Law Office of Faye Riva Cohen, P.C. and Legal Research, Inc.