Litigation In Litigation

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LAWYERS SHOULD MAINTAIN A COLLEGIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OPPOSING COUNSEL: WHY CLIENTS SHOULD DEMAND IT AND HOW TO DO IT Litigation is can be expensive, but nothing adds to the cost faster – with less to show for it -- than lawyers who bicker needlessly over trivia, refuse common courtesies, can only communicate with rudeness, and think agreement on any point is a fatal weakness. Aggressive litigation can be carried out with collegiality between counsel, and when counsel are collegial, clients are the winners. Clients should not tolerate a lawyer who starts fights, and lawyers should cultivate a reputation for professionalism rather than being difficult. Professionalism and collegiality pay major dividends for lawyers and clients both. WHY RUDENESS COMES EASIER THAN COURTESY But maintaining a collegial relationship with an opponent does not happen automatically or without effort. Why? Because the “default” settings in litigation are built-in disagreement, distrust, high emotions, misunderstandings, and even animosity between parties. It’s also easy for a lawyer mistakenly to take his/her cue from clients; their client hates his adversary, so the lawyer hates her opposing counsel. And to be frank, some clients cheer on their lawyer for his/her rude and difficult behavior. Clients who are not litigation savvy mistake their own lawyer’s rudeness for strength. It feels good to them to read their lawyers’ gratuitously rude letter to opposing counsel and feel comforted that they have a 500 pound gorilla on their side to beat up their hated opponent. But it’s a foolish mirage. They don’t feel so good or comforted months later when the legal fees pile up without much to show for it. And then there are the lawyers who genuinely... ... middle of paper ... ...e a bully and fight over every triviality because he or she sees litigation as a zero sum game where only a sucker gives an inch. Then you have no alternative but to fight back. Fight and hit the bully hard. But even then, let your letters, emails, and conversations remain professional. Avoid rude insults or ad hominem attacks. A judge may read these letters, and judges are not impressed by intemperate, rude, personal attacks. You can win the credibility contest by your professionalism. Some lawyers have a reputation for being dishonest or difficult. But remember you have a reputation also. And being known as a lawyer who is easy to work with and honest is money in the bank. You will keep litigation costs down for your clients by avoiding needless fights. Your clients will be wells served, and they will pass the word that you are good at what you do.

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