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In the Heat of Legal Battle: A Surprising Moment of Understanding

In the Heat of Legal Battle: A Surprising Moment of Understanding

 

Have you ever noticed that some of the greatest realizations – those “light bulb” moments – occur during the most contentious of situations? I think as a defense mechanism, the brain seeks alternative ways to process the rage, fear, sadness, or whatever it may be. This happened to me the other day.

Throughout my career, I have been no stranger to the gamesmanship of defense lawyers. Some defense lawyers will lie, hide evidence, obstruct discovery, delay timelines – all in the name of “defending the case.” I was in the middle of a heated battle with one of these shady defense lawyers who made untrue statements to the court in opposition to a motion I brought. The lawyer had made false statements to me before, had represented one thing and had done another right after, had purposefully omitted information in discovery, and obstructed process, sure, but never made a false statement to the court. I was infuriated. “Does this person have no limits,” I screamed to myself.

Following the hearing, my brain was struggling to process the frustration, and I began plotting my revenge against this unscrupulous attorney… but then I had this realization: this lawyer is trapped. On the one hand, I am fighting for an actual human being who has suffered, and who deserves retribution for that suffering. That is a worthy reason to fight. On the other hand, this lawyer is fighting to protect the coffers of an already very wealthy insurance company. (Note: a criminal defense lawyer friend of mine once jokingly stated to me “you civil lawyers fight harder for money than criminal lawyers fight for freedom!”)

I know that this lawyer is taking orders from their employer, the adjuster who has bought into the insurance company so deeply that every case, is just another case. They deal in terms of numbers, not people. If I were in this lawyer’s shoes, would I too turn off my humanity? How else could one deny the suffering of another human being? Wait… was I having a moment of compassion for my opponent…? Yikes!

So, while I am still plotting my revenge against this lawyer (the behavior is not excusable no matter the cause), I am also fighting for my client with even more zeal because I know that our case is righteous, and the more games the other side plays, and the more they fight this way, the more they are losing. This behavior signals to me that we are pushing the right buttons, and we will eventually prevail.

 

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