Finding the top worst types of opposing lawyers has taken me 7 years of litigation, over 300 court hearings and hundreds of opposing counsel dealt with. My purpose in life was to find happiness and freedom, not the worst types of opposing lawyers encountered. But hey, maybe what I am about to say will resonate with a lot of my colleagues and help with some chuckles in the middle of this acrimonious profession we call litigation.
So without further ado:
So there are two types of aggressive lawyers: the dumb aggressive lawyer and the the smart aggressive lawyer. The dumb aggressive lawyers send agitating letters, attack you and try to make you feel stupid. These types of lawyers are generally junior lawyers who look at every letter and pleading as a win/lose and an opportunity to outsmart the other lawyer. There is no cooperation or reason with these lawyers because their goal is to win, not to resolve. So either you handle them with care or have no choice but to teach them a lesson in court so they finally learn being bombastic and verbally aggressive does not help. And will cause them to lose their reputation.
The dumb aggressive lawyers tend to write letters criticizing and accusing you personally of things you did/didn’t do without reason. They get a rise from putting you down. Not reacting to them takes minimal energy and time and in the end will be a better choice.
The smart aggressive lawyer is one that relentlessly protects his client’s interests but not at the cost of losing his/her dignity and honesty. These lawyers have their client’s best interests in mind and will try to settle the case. But if they are dealing with an unreasonable opposing party or lawyer, they will prepare like there is no tomorrow, will give their case their all and will make sure they do everything in their power to achieve what the client deserves. If you want aggressive, go with the smart type not the dumb type.
So you estimated your matter to take no more than 2 hours but then you didn’t realize the opposing lawyer will take a life time to form a sentence or find the materials he is relying on. So now the estimate is 2 days instead of 2 hours and you have a livid judge attacking both of you for wasting the court’s resources and misestimating your time. Worse yet, your client is sitting behind you and watching the crap storm of attacks between lawyers and judge and wondering just how many more months or years he/she will have to wait before this case is over.
Hey, if you go to court, learn how to summarize your arguments and take as little time as possible to relay your message before suffocating everyone with the details of irrelevant information. Please don’t be that lawyer that delays and prolongs things. No one will like you including your client. So please, stop. Stop talking.
Look the law is the same for all of us. There are exceptions and variations you can argue, but they all have to fit within the range. So if you tell your client they are going to win something that no person in the right mind would believe except for you, the only result will that your client will lose and you will gain a lot of money but you still lose the case. And if you are giving your client all sorts of false hopes to make a buck, you may win in the short term but never the long term.
So stay honest and reasonable. When you advance insane arguments and then bend your facts to favour those crazy arguments, mostly likely your client will be declared an unreliable witness and you will go on the black list of your judge and all the judges he/she works with. So please just stop because you are not helping yourself or your client, and specially me – who has to get up and express my disbelief that what is happening and what you are doing and why you are wasting everyone’s time. You are not just hurting your client for a buck, you are hurting me and my client too. So yea, no one will like you so please stop.
These types of lawyers actually don’t annoy me because it is really funny comparing how they are behind their computers versus how they are in court. Behind the computer, they will write you 15 pages of legal arguments and why they are right. But as soon as you take them to court, they often freeze or cannot connect with the judge to relay their case.
If you were an A+ student in law school that doesn’t mean you will win at anything in your career. You may go home every night wondering why you lost despite knowing so much more than the other lawyer and being so academic. The problem is that you don’t realize academics and theories do not always reflect life realities so the best thing you can do is to stop copying what books say and instead put yourself in your client’s position and give a convincing account of why what you are seeking is reasonable and right. If you don’t have street smarts, put down the glasses and books and start traveling. That will fix most things.
Nothing better than sending 5 letters asking for the same simple thing and never getting a response. Then having your assistant call his office and no one picks up the phone. The best is when they don’t even check their emails when you are serving them with court materials and then end up showing to court last minute with a last minute affidavit defending something that should have never taken this long and this much legal costs to be addressed.
They lose at the end but don’t seem to learn their lesson and keep on repeating it and getting in to trouble. It is as though everytime they choose to ignore you, they know they are taking a risk to have a Law Society complaint or a negative judgment against them but it is not really worth their time to get back to you, and maybe just maybe, they will get away with it. In the long term, they won’t. They will only have more troubles to deal with than necessary. So please don’t take more files than you can handle and if you are going to charge your client several hundreds of dollars per hour, at least tend to their file and protect them. Please do not give us lawyers a bad name.
I have been at least one of the above in my career but then realized how stupid I was being and changed my ways. So see if you are one of the above terrible lawyers and become great. The easiest thing is to change strategy and what kind of a lawyer you are based on experience and what generally works in this profession.
In the next blog, I will list 5 types of the best opposing lawyers I have ever dealt with. I promise you this story too will end on a positive note.
Leena Yousefi: firstname.lastname@example.org.