Best Ways For Young Lawyers To Deal With Opposing Counsel

by Kylan Reyes on July 24, 2013

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Being a new attorney can be overwhelming. For many young lawyers, one of the biggest challenges in their new career is to deal with untrustworthy or rude or hostile opposing counsel. Every conversation from the opposing counsel’s end seems to spiral in to venomous words and threats. His every word drips with anger and sarcasm. Being inexperienced and a novice player, a young attorney gets intimidated by the senior, rude and hostile opposing counsel. Opposing counsel is well aware of your relative inexperience and will try to take advantage of it in the court room. Some attorneys are really good at getting under the skin of others and have honed it to a fine art.

Whether you agree or not, every young lawyer goes through this experience and suffers mentally as well as physically. Well, not any more.

Here are some of the tips to stand you on the ground so that you can deal with an awful opposing lawyer

Know the rules

The best way for dealing with an aggressive opposing counsel is to know the rules. The rules are there for a reason. Review the relevant documents, know the facts of your case and its controlling legal principles and learn in depth about your witnesses. This will keep you prepared and you will not make an effort to mask your insecurities in front of your opposing counsel, client, judge and other people in the court room.Whether you are in a deposition, at a hearing or handling any other criminal case, it is important to know what you are entitled to and what you are not entitled to. This will make you confident and strong advocate for your opposing counsel without giving up unnecessary ground.

Knowing about the in-depth details about the rules of law has several benefits- First is, proper knowledge reassures you that you are 110 percent correct. Secondly, it also allows you to shove the rule down the opposing counsel’s throat when they say- “Well, the rules do not require that we….” It also helps you retain your credibility in front of everyone in the court room.Knowing about the trial court’s rules of behavior helps you refrain you from displaying any unlawful behavior in the court.

Don’t engage

Difficult senior lawyers are looking for you to hook in to their anger, anxiety or fear. Many lawyers use these tactics to frustrate or distract you, and you the fail to discover the relevant information. If you respond to their aggressive behavior in the same tone, then they have you where they want. Engaging in heated exchanges of words will only increase the hostility and shake you from within. Now, your opposing counsel has probably thrown you off your game and now they can get whatever they want.Hence, the key is to stay reasonable, calm and unaffected during those hostile comments of your opposing counsel. Display calm confidence even when the environment in the courtroom has been made hostile by your opposing counsel.

One more thing that you need to remember is that the high-conflict behavior is not about you. It is just a way to get you emotionally hooked. So, do not get personally and stay focused on the case.

Know your opposing counsel

Make the effort to find out about your opponent’s family, backgrounds, interests, skills, strengths and weaknesses. Do your homework to learn about how your opposing counsel handled his previous cases. Do research on his previous work and actions in the courtroom and with other lawyers.There is no guarantee you’re your opposing counsel will follow the same course of action every time, but this will give you a fair idea of what your opposing counsel is thinking and what his next step might be. You may be able to predict how he views the case and what actions he can take. Understand motivation for hostile behavior of your opposing lawyer and be prepared to handle it tactfully.

No one likes dealing with aggressive, hostile opposing counsels. It becomes more difficult especially if you are new to the industry. Keep your head on a swivel and stick to your guns. Keep the above mentioned tips in mind the next time you deal with a difficult opposing lawyer, and you will definitely come out ahead.


Kylan Reyes
Kylan Reyes is a blogger for Law Firm. He enjoys writing about law and legal issues specially about Family Law , Personal Injury.
Kylan Reyes

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