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March 30, 2010

Is "professionalism" mainly a lawyer-centric ruse?

Reprinted from a 2005 "Law Week edition" of The San Diego Daily Transcript, here's "Professionalism Revisited: What About The Client?". The piece ends with "rules of professionalism"--but from the client's perspective. Excerpts from Rules 1, 5 and 6:

1. We come first. Be nice--but if in doubt, use the rules. If you feel you know the lawyers you are dealing with, we will follow your advice and instincts. If you are in doubt about the lawyers, or if it might compromise us to deviate from the formal procedural rules, please stay close to those rules.

5. If you have, or would like to have, a personal relationship with opposing counsel, that's fine, but don't let the relationship hurt us--the client. We don't care as much as you do about your maintaining or developing collegiality with other lawyers in your jurisdiction; in fact, we could not care less.

6. If opposing counsel shows animosity toward you for following the procedural rules and keeping things moving, that is tough. This is not about the lawyers. We hired you to represent us. We would like you to get this done. Again, as your client, we seldom think that aggression and persistence are "unprofessional".

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at March 30, 2010 11:59 PM


"Again, as your client, we seldom think that aggression and persistence are "unprofessional"."

And there is the 'goading' trap, lawyers so desperate to be seen to be jumping up and down and frothing at the mouth so client thinks they are a bulldog they end up goaded into doing exactly what the other side want.

Lawyer A “yes, we bankrupted the respondent company, they tried to buy time and dance around the issue by we just stormed in and ripped them apart”
Client A “oh well, would have been nice to recover some damages and not just get billed for your costs but at least they have been put out of business and I suppose that’s the best we can hope for”

Lawyer B “okay, so your company is bankrupt, but it was dying anyway and they were too busy seeing red to notice that you made the colossal mistake of not actually trading under your limited’s name and so you and the other directors could have been personally liable for these losses if they had joined you into the proceedings”
Client B “I’m so grateful, I’m glad we were against easily goaded morons”

There is a Big difference between respectfully standing your ground and being a drama special stereotype just because client’s ‘like’ lawyers who look aggressive.

Posted by: Duncan King at April 1, 2010 05:45 AM

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