Is it so hard to be nice?

Attorney Sam Stretton wrote an excellent piece for today on providing an extension to a lawyer when he reasonably requests it.  Sam may not know this, but he actually represented my parents when I was a child. They spoke fondly of him.  I think this is because he isn’t only an attorney, he is a gentleman.

When I teach Bridge the Gap (for you non-Pennsylvanians a required 4 hour seminar that focuses on ethics for new attorneys) I stress exactly the point Sam makes in his piece.  It is, to me, an embarrassment that things got so bad here in Pennsylvania that our judiciary had to develop a code of civility to get attorneys and judges to behave appropriately to each other.

I believe in being a strong advocate. Showing weakness in a case is a bad idea.  But regardless of what an attorney or his client might think, being polite is not showing weakness. Strength is not shown through bullying, nasty behavior. It is shown by engaging in the appropriate tactics necessary to play the chess game that can be litigation. There are times to stand strong, certainly, but standing strong is different from refusing each and every reasonable request of opposing counsel just because you can; or even because your client, who might themselves need you to delay something in the future, says so. Your client shouldn’t be calling the tactical shots anyway. Who went to law school?



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