Originally published July 2, 2014 in The Indiana Lawyer
Civility. Courtesy. Respect. Professionalism.
These are words that should be synonymous with “Advocate” but in a world of high stakes, strong opinions, and a general, societal decline in basic manners, how can attorneys fight the good fight while living up to these ideals – especially if the other side doesn’t? We set out to find examples of lawyers who model the way while providing excellent representation.
Getting Along is Not Wrong, an initiative of the IndyBar Standing Committee on Professionalism, is the impressive collection of such positive and compelling behavior.
Hon. Steven H. David, Indiana Supreme Court
The Chronological Case Summary reads: “Pre-trial conference held to discuss Defendant’s Motion to Continue Trial. Discussion held. Counsel for Plaintiff strongly objects to the Continuance. Motion to Continue is granted over objection and matter is reset for a first-choice trial on…”
Want the rest of the story? The trial was set on a day that the defense counsel had longstanding plans to be on vacation. He made it clear in his motion that his vacation was the conflict and the reason for the Motion to Continue. The plaintiff was livid and wanted the case to proceed to trial on the day scheduled. The plaintiff’s counsel asked for a pre-trial conference to discuss the matter rather than filing a written objection to the Motion to Continuance. Respecting the defense counsel’s desire to go on vacation, she did not want to oppose the Motion to Continue, but her client demanded that she “fight it.” All of this was discussed during the telephoned pre-trial conference between counsel and the judge. The Chronological Case Summary set forth above was then issued.
The defense counsel got his continuance. The plaintiff’s counsel “lost” her objection but “won” enhanced respect of the opposing counsel and the court. The plaintiff, while not happy with the trial judge’s ruling, got to read the CCS entry and was at least happy with his attorney’s effort in “opposing” the motion. Oh, and by the way, while on the telephone, a new conflict-free date was set for the trial. It did go to trial and was one of the best-tried bench trials I ever presided over.
Getting along is not wrong. Professionalism and civility is good business.
If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Professionalism Committee, please email Kara Sikorski at firstname.lastname@example.org.