Why can’t some attorneys play well with others?
Great question. I often hear from fellow family law attorneys that he or she is having issues with a nasty opposing lawyer. I frequently deal with them myself. I am always confused as to the purpose of being unpleasant other than an attempt to bully the other party into giving up more in any given case, which rarely works. And if I’m confronted with it, I never join in.
I personally believe that being a zealous advocate for your client and being a respectful professional are not mutually exclusive options. In fact, I find that by always remaining professional in my work, I am in fact being the best advocate for my client. Why? Because my clients deserve to have their case presented without losing sight of the most important issues amid the kerfuffle of ridiculousness, unreasonably high legal costs and childish bickering. I think it is perfectly acceptable to have a lively debate or legal argument on the facts and law without getting personal or crossing the line.
I’ve seen many cases where attorneys have made the proceedings last much longer and cost much more than they ever should have and in the end – the parties end up not too far from where they started, except with a lot less money.
Minnesota attorneys have the Professionalism Aspirations to help guide their actions. I doubt that many attorneys regularly refer to these, but they should. As a profession, we do not serve our clients well at all when we put our egos first. Fellow attorneys, take a moment and review these aspirations. Clients, take a look at these aspirations and see if your attorney is following them.
And to all you naughty attorneys out there…well, let’s face it, none of them are reading this right now anyway so I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.