Lawyers Behaving Badly

Dear Client:

At times during the course of the trial, particularly when you are being cross-examined by the opposing counsel, it may appear as if they have something against you.

But, and you may need to just trust me on this: the opposing counsel is not against you. They are just for the opposition.

So what are they trying to do when they keep asking you the same question over and over? What are they doing when they stand up and object before you have an opportunity to respond to the questions being asked? What are they doing when they try to twist everything you are saying so you can’t think straight?

They are not making personal attacks against you. They are trying to convince their client that they are working hard on their behalf and are worth the money they are being paid.

Let me preface what I am about to say by saying I don’t approve of the attorneys who behave badly and I would never try to condone their behavior. However, I do think it may be helpful to understand why they find it necessary to behave badly.

I blame television. That’s right, television.

You may not watch a lot of television. And if you do, you may be able to distinguish the difference between fictional dramas and real life.

Regrettably, not everyone has the power to do this.

That’s why many attorneys feel the need to perform in a manner that fits their clients expectation of how attorneys should behave. So when they walk in the courtroom they have to put on a show and act like the attorneys portrayed on shows like Law and Order and Damages.

There is a good chance that their client’s understanding of the court process is based in large part on what they’ve seen on television. And that their client’s opinion of them will not be based on their legal competence, knowledge of the law and pre-trial preparation, but on their ability to cause you to break-down during cross-examination.

The truth is when the opposing counsel is talking to you they are not really focusing on you per se. They are thinking about their client, and trying to persuade the judge or jury. They may even be thinking about the last case they tried or the one they have to try next.

They are thinking very little about you.

That is why you should not take anything they say or do during the course of the trial personally. I know they are looking at you. I know they are talking to you. I know they are questioning you. I know they may be challenging you. I know they may be irritating you. I know they may be doing everything but calling you a bold-faced, lily-livered liar. Despite all of that, you still should not take anything they say personally.

Since there is a good chance that prior to the commencement of the case you had never met the opposing counsel, and once the case is over you will never meet them again, there is no point in giving them a lot of thought beyond the case. Their opinion of you should not matter. What they believe about what transpired prior to the lawsuit being filed should not concern you.

Taking their actions personally will only cause you to become frustrated and lose your focus. And once you lose focus then you will be helping them to achieve their objective and hurting your chances of getting what you want.

This is an excerpt from Letters to a New Divorce Client. Download a copy below:
Letters to a New Divorce Client

Posted in Letters to a New Divorce Client.

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