Practice Tip: Don’t be a dick
Posted on December 22nd, 2010
Believe it or not, the law used to be considered one of the noble professions. (Obviously, this was before the advent of cheesy late night commercials.) It still could be, except for all the dicks out there practicing law.
Here is the thing about dick moves as a lawyer: they may gain you a temporary advantage, but they will also get you a bad reputation and it will be open season for every other lawyer in town to pull dick moves on you. And no matter how big the city you’re practicing in might be, it’s a small community of lawyers. It’s not worth it.
Not sure what a dick move is versus a “strategic decision?” Here are some examples of dick moves:
- Making a response due the day after a holiday or a long weekend.
- Making a response due when you know opposing counsel will be on vacation.
- When every other document or response is either faxed/mailed or just plain mailed, hand-delivering a motion so that the other party is deprived of an extra three days because of a mailing rule. This is so dicky it goes without saying, but it happens.
- Not working with opposing counsel on finding reasonable days for depositions, conferences, and so on. Or lying about availability.
- Misrepresenting something opposing counsel said to the court.
- Unreasonably delaying proceedings just to make the other party suffer (see also: domestic relations, restraining orders)
- Not turning over discovery.
- Claiming not to have discovery that you have.
- Willfully misinterpreting requests for production to not provide all the discovery you have.
- Blatant compound interrogatories.
- Not granting extra time to the opposing counsel for medical emergencies, necessities, etc.
- Yelling at opposing counsel. Ever. Dude, you are supposed to be a professional.
- Not making polite chit chat when I am making an effort to be nice to you. Because it’s hard to be nice to a dick, I deserve extra special bonus points for making the effort. In fact, you should buy me cupcakes.
Extra bonus practice tip 1: if you’re the victim of one of these dick moves, don’t complain about it to the court (except for discovery issues). The court already knows this attorney is a dick, and feels sorry for you for having to interact with him or her. The test for you is to respond with grace and dignity despite having to deal with the dick. Which is not to say that you can’t drop a footnote or two into a brief that might mention one of these dick moves, or to include a “summary of procedure” section in a responding brief that highlights some of these dick moves. But don’t do anything equally dicky like move for sanctions or threaten sanctions.
Extra bonus practice tip 2: Do not talk to the dick on the phone or in person. Do not believe anything the dick says. Communicate only in writing.