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Playing “Nice” With Your Adversary

January 26, 2009

The other day, I had a deposition in a case in another Pennsylvania county that is a couple of hours from Philly. while the case has been in litigation for awhile, I only inherited the case in the past year and had only conversed with opposing counsel a couple of times on the phone.

After the deposition concluded, opposing counsel offered to take me out to lunch to the restaurant downstairs from his office building. Even better, lunch conversation consisted of talk of sports, Philadelphia and everything else not related to the case.

In my 9 or so years of practice, I do not recall any other opposing counsel offering to buy lunch. It was a nice and pleasant gesture, particularly when opposing counsel and I had never previously met, and no business was discussed. Certainly, I don’t believe it’s a common practice here on Philadelphia. Perhaps, it should be.

Oftentimes, when we are pitted in litigation, we take on adversarial relationships with opposing counsel. While it’s one thing to aggressively and passionately represent your client’s interests, keeping social or being friendly with opposing counsel is not mutually exclusive of that purpose. In fact, you may be more likely to resolve your case or receive “breaks” (deadline extensions, discovery limitations, etc.) because you play “nice.”

There are still many attorneys who don’t believe in this approach and will look to be hostile in dealings. Good for them. I for one believe you can get further with the “nice” approach.

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