As many of us understand from personal experience, the legal profession can be very controversial at times. A opposing lawyer in litigation has a duty to be avid attorneys, and this inevitably means lawyers must do whatever it takes to gain advantage for their clients, often to the detriment of another party. In many situations, however, it makes sense for lawyers to thank and compliment each other during a representation.
Lawyers representing co-defendants in legal disputes often have to rely on each other to advance the interests of all clients. Indeed, co-defendants often share expert and other costs related to defending a case. Additionally, the co-defendant attorney often has to rely on lawyers from different defendants to take the lead in certain parts of the litigation.
Early in my career, I worked on mass cases, often involving dozens of defendants. Filings were the most important part of these lawsuits, as it was at this point that plaintiffs identified the parties who would each bear responsibility. During the dismissal, an attorney took the lead and asked the vast majority of the plaintiff’s questions. Each individual attorney whose clients were involved asked their own questions, but the number of questions they had was much fewer than the number of questions the lead investigator asked. The attorney who took the lead had to do the lion’s share of the work required for the exam, as he had to investigate the case and ask most of the questions, while the other attorneys mostly just took notes.
In this job, I have often taken the lead on mass prescriptions. Our clients were usually key players in these cases and I liked honing my skills and being the center of attention by taking the lead. When I took the lead, I was very grateful when the other attorneys thanked me for stepping up and taking the lead for the benefit of all attorneys on the deposit. I also liked it when other attorneys praised my work, and I thanked and congratulated everyone who took the lead in a dismissal in which my clients were not major actors. This definitely helped foster the friendliness of the lawyers who have worked in the field and it was good to know that I had the support of other lawyers I have worked with.
Sometimes it is important to compliment attorneys just to recognize a solid legal profession and offer recognition for a job well done. This is especially true when the legal profession is helping your client. Lawyers often have to take a back seat during litigation. This is usually because a client is not really involved in a case or may not want to spend too much money on litigation. As a result, some lawyers often have to drag the other defendants along because their clients have most of the skin in it, and it doesn’t hurt to thank and compliment those lawyers who make your job a little easier.
Once I was on a multi-defendant case and there was a discovery battle between the defendant’s attorney and the plaintiff’s attorney. One of the defense attorneys stepped forward and filed a really impressive motion to the court about the situation. I emailed this attorney thanking that attorney for submitting the application and praising the firm for their good work in preparing the papers. This attorney was really grateful, and I could tell that it was fairly new for one attorney to take the time to compliment the work of another attorney. Even if you can’t spend as many resources on a case as other lawyers on a matter, at least you can compliment and thank the lawyers who step on the table.
Additionally, thanking and complimenting other attorneys can go a long way in promoting the goodwill of defense attorneys in a case. Defendants’ lawyers often have to rely on each other to share information on a matter, receive courtesy copies of items not on a lawyers record, and divide up duties that must be shared equally among defendants. I have asked favors from fellow attorneys on several occasions, and more than once the goodwill of these attorneys has saved my clients time and money. Additionally, I am always willing to offer courtesies to other lawyers, especially when there is goodwill among people who share a common defense. Thanking a lawyer and complimenting them on their work is a huge step in building a relationship with other lawyers that can be useful.
All in all, courtesy is important to the legal profession, and recognition of good work is valued by many lawyers too. As a result, lawyers should thank and compliment their peers more often as this helps build a relationship and recognizes the hard work of lawyers working towards a common goal.
Jordan Rothman is a partner at Rothman Law Firm, a full-service law firm in New York and New Jersey. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website that discusses how he paid off his student loan. You can contact Jordan by email at [email protected]