Minnesota Litigator knows of one Twin Cities lawyer who claims he generally has better relationships with his opposing lawyers than with his clients. This might seem ironic or perverse (and perhaps worrisome for the lawyer’s financial well-being). But the fact is that civil litigators are professional combatants. As in professional sports, they play to win, often aggressively, but, for the most part, they know the rules, they play by the rules, and they know and respect the system and their adversaries. They recognize their adversaries are “just doing their jobs” and vice-versa.
Some clients on the other hand…
(To be fair, clients have to pay lawyers’ bills. Opposing lawyers generally do not. Paying people to bicker (which sometimes seems to be the vast bulk of “work product” litigation clients are “copied” on) wears thin, I hear. And getting a call saying the case is going poorly and then seeing the bill for $75-150 for the bad news (or $27,167?) can put a strain on anyone’s positive feelings.)
Still, enough already with the lawyer jokes. And what’s with clients who don’t know seem to know the rules and/or sometimes just don’t care to follow them? That’s a problem.
For example, all experienced civil litigators know that the settlement of a case is effective even in the absence of a signed settlement agreement.
If Joe Plaintiff and Mary Defendant hammer out terms and tell the world they’ve settled their dispute, Joe cannot walk away from the settlement with “buyer’s remorse” based on the simple fact that he never signed the settlement agreement. Not all clients seem to appreciate this.
Ask Donnie Andrews. He can tell you.
(Coincidentally, the cover story of Bench & Bar Minnesota (March 2011) concerns the challenges posed by some clients.)