April 19, 2008

Divorce Myths: Why isn’t my lawyer being a jerk to the other lawyer?

One “Divorce Myth” we come across is that some clients expect you to be a jerk to the other lawyer. The myth is that such behavior is beneficial to the client and part of being an advocate. The reality is that being a jerk to the other lawyer is unprofessional, won’t improve your results, makes judges and your colleagues think less of you, and makes cases more expensive for both clients.

Good family law lawyers get along with other lawyers. They problem solve. They listen. They promote the integrity of the profession and legal system. They show appropriate respect for other professionals working on a case. They don’t hang up on phone calls, or personally insult the other lawyer. In our opinion, personal attacks on the other lawyer have no place in a professional practice. You can be a zealous, aggressive advocate for your client’s legal position without stooping to name calling. The American Bar Association complies a list of different State Bar’s Professionalism Codes. On November 16, 2006, the Oregon State Bar House of Delegates adopted and Supreme Court of Oregon approved an updated Statement of Professionalism. One of the professionalism points is “I will be courteous and respectful to my clients, to adverse litigants and adverse counsel, and to the court.”

As a client, beware of the unprofessional lawyer. Advocacy and being an asshole are very different things. Such behavior is not only unprofessional, but may harm your case and increase your legal fees. If your lawyer is intentionally being a jerk to the other lawyer, the likely victim is you.