About 4 to 5 years ago while I was attending the National Trial Lawyers Summit in South Beach Florida I had the privilege of listening to a lecture by Robert Josefsberg one of the best personal injury attorneys in America. The subject of Attorney Josefsberg's lecture was civility and the law.
Civility, according to Websters II now Riverside Dictionary (Revised Addition), means "1. Courtesy or politeness. 2. A courteous act or expression."
In Law, Attorney Josefsberg stated that a Plaintiff's lawyer i.e. one who is representing the injured person doing the suing, must not only be polite and courteous to his own client, but to the insurance adjuster, opposing counsel, court personal and the judge as well.
Attorney Josefsberg when on to tell a story about the reality of being civil in the every day world. The story involved a man who was traveling from New York to California via air travel. The man was at the airport checking his bags. A women was behind this man waiting her turn in line to check her bags. This man was so rude and discourteous to the baggage handler. The baggage handler for his part,according to the women, was courteous and kept smiling. The man never stopped being rude and finally his bags were checked and he went on to board the airplane. The women who witnessed all this rude conduct was next. She was very polite and courteous to the baggage handler and was upset how the man had treated the baggage handler. The baggage handler thanked the women for her concern and told the women "don't worry the man is going to California and his bags are going to Poland."
I thought about the logic of all that after hearing from Attorney Josefsberg discuss civility. After all, I was hired by my client to fight hard and advocate in support of my client's position and get the best possible result. However, being rude, abrupt, or bullish does not score points with a jury or defense counsel or anyone else involved in the lawsuit process. You can be a great advocate for your client and always be nice, courteous and civil to all.
It should noted not to mistake kindness for weakness thus a good competent lawyer does not have to act like total "jack ass" in order to get a good result for their client whether in court or out of court.
In conclusion civility is an important quality for a great attorney. Civility makes for a better, effective, efficient, smoother process and experience for our clients.
Attorney Lauren Winer-Beck