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Five Ways to Irritate Opposing Counsel

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Everyone who has ever practiced law has opposing counsel horror stories. This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, you remember some of the weirdos from your law school class. How many of them are practicing attorneys?

In hope that this will help you correct your bad behavior — or indulge in a misery-loves-company therapeutic rant — here are five ways attorneys irritate the other side.

1. Pass off case calls to a series of attorneys in the firm

The attorney of record doesn't answer his phone. The next attorney knows nothing about the case. The junior associate knows nothing about the case, and nothing about the law. At this point, the caller will have to fight the desire to drive to the firm and insert the phone in someone's naughty parts.

Is that really necessary?

2. Remind young attorneys of their relative lack of experience. Repeatedly.

Yes, we're not all seasoned barristers. How about you ask us what it was like to graduate in 2011 again?

You might also use age as a passive-aggressive way of intimidating less-experienced foes. "My goodness, you are young." "How old are you?"

Young attorneys get it - we're younger and less experienced.

3. Return documents, correspondence slowly

Get a stipulation in the mail? Why rush to respond? Sure, there isn't anything to do but sign-and-return. And it has been a freaking week. But why should lawyering be easy? Or quick?

Except there's no reason to waste time. You stip. We stip. We all stip. Get it together, man.

4. Skip procedural steps

Discovery? Nahhh. Case management conferences? Who needs 'em. Alternative dispute resolution and mediation? He'll be there, but he won't try.

There's a reason why certain steps are mandates by the court. Skipping steps not only makes you look incompetent, it's a pain in everyone's buttocks as well.

5. Be OCD about Procedural Steps, Mistakes

Then again, there's the converse of the step-skipper: The guy who makes a big deal because subsection 16 of Rule 57 wasn't followed. You forgot to discuss the cost of postage stamps! HOW DARE YOU!

There's meaningful participation and fulfillment of procedures. There's also obsessive-compulsive disorder. Try to find a happy medium.

Of course, there are many ways to make opposing counsel's blood boil. Have one to share? Tell us on our Facebook page. We'll have five more tomorrow.

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