Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Civility In Law Practice
Many clients in adversarial matters view their party adversary as the enemy, and by association, have a similar feeling about their adversary's attorney. This is especially true in family law, probate proceedings involving opposing family members, and in business litigation wherein the parties had a working or personal relationship in place before a dispute arose. These clients often have a problem understanding how their respective attorneys can communicate in an amicable fashion, given the emotional baggage that they may be bringing to the fore. An attorney can always accomplish more for their client by having an open line of friendly communication with the opposing attorney, although depending upon the client it is not necessarily something that should be openly advertised in the client's presence, like a courtroom hallway. A working relationship can help to avoid motions (and which are expensive for the client) and achieve stipulations to certain issues (and which again are usually a cost-saving procedure for the client) that are in the client's best interest. In those situations wherein opposing counsel do not get along, an effort should still be made to do so, as it is the professional high-road to take. Letting opposing counsel know what you really think about them in a negative way will cloud a lawyer's objectivity and open the door for eating a big dose of humble pie if things don't go the way you want them to at court. The legal community can be a relatively small one, and you may encounter a former opposing attorney in a new case one day, and wherein you need a favor. Don't burn your bridges.