Getting Good Results for Clients by Building Good Working Relationships with 'Opposing Counsel'
University of Missouri School of Law
December 5, 2011
University of La Verne Law Review, Vol. 33, p. 107, 2011
University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-25
Lawyers’ relationships with their “opposing counsel” make a big difference in how well they handle their cases. “Opposing counsel” often do oppose each other, sometimes quite vigorously, though they also regularly cooperate with each other. In the normal course of litigation, lawyers need to cooperate on many procedural matters. In some cases, they also cooperate to achieve their respective clients’ substantive interests. If the lawyers have a bad relationship, the case is likely to be miserable for everyone involved. If they have a good relationship, they are more likely to agree on procedural matters, exchange information informally, take reasonable negotiation positions, resolve matters efficiently, satisfy their clients, and enjoy their work.
This article suggests general techniques for providing effective representation by building good working relationships between counterpart lawyers. This analysis is based, in part, on interviews with lawyers published in the author’s book, Lawyering with Planned Early Negotiation: How You Can Get Good Results for Clients and Make Money. The techniques include getting to know each other personally, initiating mutually helpful actions, and displaying respectful relationships in front of clients. The article argues that these approaches can be helpful even when lawyers take extreme positions or are rascals. Obviously, these methods will not always generate constructive relationships or produce satisfying results. But lawyers who conscientiously use them should substantially increase the likelihood of doing so. The article concludes that lawyers have little to lose and much to gain by trying to develop good working relationships with their counterparts.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: opposing counsel, clients, lawyering, working relationships
Date posted: December 6, 2011