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Professionalism's Easy. Don't Be a Jerk.

Don’t be a jerk.

It’s that simple.

A big part of professionalism is common courtesy.

I’m no expert, but I know being a lawyer is so much more fun and rewarding when the jerk factor’s at a minimum.

Showing respect. Accommodating schedules. Cooperating in discovery. Having a sense of humor. 

A side benefit is all this conveys strength. If you’re in the power position, it’s easy to be magnanimous. If the facts or law aren’t on your side, it’s tempting to be shrill. So fake it with kindness and you look like you’re holding the winning hand.

Being professional also cuts costs, because if you don’t give opposing counsel a break when it’s possible to do so, you can be sure you won’t get one in return. Twisting the knife motivates the other side to win at all costs.

I’m not saying be a pushover. Far from it. In fact, we’re all ethically charged with being zealous advocates. That’s one of the things lawyers are paid to do.

But who really cares if the deposition happens on Tuesday when opposing counsel asks that it take place on Wednesday? If Wednesday would disadvantage your client in some way, that’s a different story. But if it doesn’t matter in the case, why fight over a nonissue?

It only hurts your client if you can accommodate a reasonable request, and don’t.

Posted on December 5, 2010 by Registered CommenterMichael Atkins | Comments1 Comment

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Reader Comments (1)

I have a love-hate relationship with the compliment I sometimes get from one of my clients: "You're not like most attorneys. I like you." Great for me, sad for the profession, especially when it comes from a client. Far too often the aggressive posturing that lawyers take against each other wears off on their demeanor with clients. No client wants to be talked down to - they want a discussion and an explanation and to be treated like equals. So easy. And a great corollary to your article over at the [non]Billable Hour: http://thenonbillablehour.typepad.com/nonbillable_hour/2010/12/hug-your-clients.html
January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOne Trademark Attorney

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