Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tips for dealing with difficult opposing counsel

And speaking of personality clashes (see below), here are some excellent tips for dealing with difficult opposing counsel from the Velvet Hammer blog. As the competition to find and keep clients becomes more ferocious, encountering opposing counsel who affect the persona of a prick in order to gain a "perceived" advantage is something new lawyers in particular may encounter often. Some consider such "bully-boy" tactics a de rigueur part of being an effective advocate (they aren't). So take heed of the following advice but please refrain from such tactics yourself. Two wrongs don't make a right and besides you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  1. Severe all emotionality with the lawyer.  You are the professor watching this interesting/silly specimen flail about in its petri dish.
  2. The louder they yell, the calmer you grow.
  3. Don't trust anything they say - document everything.
  4. Be gracious, sweet, kind, even solicitous in your writings.  Instead of saying:  Dear Bad Attorney you are a mean jerk.  Say - Dear George - thank you so much for your most recent letter.  I greatly enjoyed reading it.  There are a few areas where you were a little mistaken in your beliefs.  Here, let me spell them out for you.  I know that sometimes it is hard for you to keep these details straight.  I'm honored to be able to help you do your job better.  If you need my assistance again in the future.  Then by all means.  Simply ask.  I'm happy to help.
  5. Protect your client.  This is what motions for protective order are for.   Dealing with rude lawyers is an occupational hazard that we need to be prepared for.  But our clients are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.  Fight for them!
  6. Protect your staff.  Pick on me all you want, but leave staff out of it.  If the line is crossed, ice the lawyer.  They will have to communicate in writing or via our direct phone line.
  7. Keep a sense of humor. 

Hat tip to the ABA Journal blog.



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