Thursday, July 9, 2009

Respect your Elders

I’ve reached the age where I have been studying the law, considering the law, and reading the law longer than some of my opposing counsel have been reading, period. I took my first law class in 1977. I started law school in 1980. Perhaps that’s why I find it irksome when an opposing lawyer confidently and smugly takes a stand that I am even more confident is wrong. The dispute means a waste of my time to resolve it. More irksome is if the lawyer makes some flip comment that I interpret as disrespect, then I have a tendency to waste even more time to teach the person to respect his or her elders.

Yesterday, a judge helped me slap down the opposing counsel who was sure he was right and I was wrong about what the Rules permit. Before I asked the court for help, I tried to reason with the attorney. Apparently, my comment that I used be on the committee that writes and revises the rules carried no weight; he did what he wanted, anyway.

The day before, I had to call a judge on the same attorney so that I could conduct a deposition as the rules permit.

I don’t know what will happen with the actual lawsuit. Many things can determine the outcome. The actual facts often – and should – be more important than the work of the lawyers. However, a lazy and ineffective lawyer can make the facts less valuable while a diligent lawyer can increase the value of the case. I will make sure that my client is not out-lawyered. The more an opposing lawyer challenges me, personally, the harder I tend work.

So the lesson to young lawyers is to respect your elders and / or let sleeping dogs lie.


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