ABA Journal


Cover Story

You’re Out of Order! Dealing with the Costs of Incivility in the Legal Profession

Jan 1, 2013, 11:19 am CST


Adversaries’ clients are much more uncivil today, too.  Adversaries are having trouble controlling their clients and that means that attorneys are under pressure from nasty parties.

By Paul the Magyar on 2012 12 22, 12:02 am CST

One good tactic is to ask the other person to “Put that in a letter, and copy everyone else.”

By John Fenner on 2013 01 07, 5:39 pm CST

I’m not sure if the case highlighted here is about an uncivil attorney, or a religious fundamentalist church that misinterprets the First Amendment and believes it can do no wrong. It was, however, the lawyers job to explain that to them. Also, let me know when they decide to do something about the incivility of some judges.

By Beth on 2013 01 11, 2:56 pm CST

The thing I hate most about being an attorney is dealing with abusive attorneys.  Most of the attorneys I deal with are professional and polite, but there are some that make the rest of us look really bad.

I am a relatively new attorney.  I have been practicing since 2009.  I am also a young looking woman.  I practice in an area that many trial lawyers don’t respect.  I enforce judgments. Admittedly, enforcing judgments is not as “sexy” as being a trial lawyer, but it has its own challenges and I assure you, I do what I do far better than most trial lawyers can, simply because it is my niche.  It is not as simple as one might think.  But there are some lawyers that cannot keep their disdain to themselves and feel the need to disparage what I do in the most insulting fashion.  I have been called “little girl” and “little idiot,” and have even been told by opposing counsel that he, a prominent medical malpractice attorney, “was not afraid of an insignificant in-house attorney that collects money.”  I have defeated each and every one of these jerks in court, easily.  And I will continue to do so.  I only look young and inexperienced.

On occasion, I have had male attorneys try to physically intimidate me.  Yup.  One particularly disturbing incident occurred just outside the courtroom.  He was a lot taller than me, even in my three inch heels, and he literally pushed me with his chest so that I had to take a step backward.  He tried the same with my client.  What he did not realize was that I am not intimidated by that sort of behavior.  Where I come from, women are definitely not helpless. :)  But the fact that he felt he could do that still floors me.

Parties can agree without being disagreeable.  As attorneys, we have so much stress already.  Why make it worse?  Take it easier on one another.

By Maria on 2013 01 11, 6:32 pm CST

@#2—My thoughts exactly. (Actually, I’ve done that.)
@#4—Battery? or, perhaps, a few karate moves to make the point? Too bad Chuck Norris wasn’t co-counsel with you in the hall (not that you’d have needed him from the tone of your letter.)

By NOW JERRY BROWN on 2013 01 14, 5:26 am CST

It’s funny that South Carolina is used as an exapmple here, since the state’s chief justice Jean Toal talks like a sailor and is about as rude and arrogant as any judge I’ve seen on the bench.

By Stand828 on 2013 01 14, 9:37 pm CST

Nothing funny about that, Stand828 . . . .

By Paul the Magyar on 2013 01 16, 12:32 am CST

Comment removed by moderator.

By attitude adjustment on 2013 01 17, 6:57 am CST

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