Oct 06

Practising Kindness as a Litigator

Lawyers are not nasty people. We just sometimes allow ourselves to act nasty in order to look stronger. We become unkind to one another in the name of promoting the interests of our clients. My goal is to change that by practising kindness without losing the confidence of those who trust me to fulfil their goals.

The benefits of practising kindness are so large, that they have attracted me to try this new bold goal. As a busy business owner running several legal teams, I tend not to be overly creative or ambitious with my goals because I feel I wont be able to manage or even plan my way to achieve them unless they are baby bite size endeavour such as a small business process improvement, or introducing a bought solution of a brand scent for the entrance. I want to see my team well, and other talented lawyers that we come to deal with in our professional life practise well. Many have paid a secret price of living a sad and depressing life because of the way we practise law make us angry, unpleasant, and habitually irritated. These changes in our being do not come with an on off button that can turn off when the billing screens go away, they continue to evade into our life and affect our loved ones, our relationships, and the biggest victim is our own self. We become unhappy, unwell, and unable to change.

The obstacles are obvious. Litigators are paid to fight in the situation of conflicts. Whether it is called a war, or a resolution, the behaviour of modern litigators tend to equate their capabilities with their rudeness, loudness, or ability to make people miserable even when the side features have no relevance to the issues themselves. When one does not do that, it is presumed that the litigators who have a soft voice, or a professionally amicable attitude belong to the group of less effective, or people with a weakness in their case.

The skills and knowledge required to fulfil the goal of practising kindness in this space are already available to every lawyer. All lawyers know how to communicate their objectives, and rules of the games. The lawyers just need to be willing to clarify that the reason for the kind tone, or the willingness to accommodate is a matter of principle. While we may be on opposite sides of a certain view points, I will not be unkind to you or your clients because I do not believe in doing that. While being kind, I would still be able to advance my clients positions quite clearly and without compromise, unless of course if my clients wish for there to be a helpful compromise.

The people I need to work on this with include firstly those within my firm. I also hope to influence those we deal with on the other side, those who work for them, and the court staff, the government agency staff, and support person of the people involved in these legal saga that often had become more heated than necessary due to the culture of nastiness is considered acceptable or even rewarded.

My plan of action is supposed to feel ambitious. It is a bold goal, and it feels that it should be hard. When I want to identify the required steps that should be carried out it seems illogically simple. I will add to my communications with my client to set the expectations about how I will run the file by the principle of kindness. I will explain to my opponents about my ways and belief that I will practise being kind to them and their clients and hope they can participate in that. I will remind my opponents when the manners changed, or when the communication becomes unnecessarily unkind, so that they know this is not how I would like to engage. I will thank my client for trusting me to manage their dispute this way, and thank my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to work with them the way that I think was most productive. I will blog and share about the positive experiences and I will review and discuss with those who resisted about why it did not work for them, if they are open to the opportunity to chat after the matter is concluded.

I think I am ready to start. I do not need a future deadline.