I just got off the phone with a colleague. We were discussing how to mutually benefit our respective clients who are adversaries in a case so they can end up in a win/win situation…
I love practicing in the Bankruptcy Bar in Nashville, TN, but a few years ago I overheard an attorney from another state complain that our bar was too conciliatory, too nice and not adversarial enough. This attorney felt there was no criticism of our skills and knowledge base and we were not getting a good deal for our clients. In fact, many of us lecture locally and nationally and our judges’ legal opinions are respected and looked to for precedent value in other parts of the country.
It is difficult enough and challenging enough to work in an environment where you have to continuously focus on strategy and the weaknesses and strengths of other parties without attorneys superimposing artificial adversarial positions, constraints, and general lack of civility simply for the sake of doing so.
While the Bankruptcy Bar in Nashville has been doing this for a long time, recently I learned that the Divorce Bar has begun promoting a conciliatory approach as well – called collaborative divorce – where an attorney represents both parties and, if an agreement is not reached, he or she cannot represent anyone. It seems that everyone should be motivated to reach a win/win situation under those circumstances instead of leaving a lot of scorched earth behind them before a divorce is concluded.
I think that if this trend bleeds over into other areas of law, not only would clients benefit greatly, but the quality of an attorney’s work environment would as well.