Don't be a DICK!
In order to qualify to work for my law firm, Pathway Legal Law Corporation, the Associate lawyers must commit to taking dispute resolution training. This is training that goes way beyond anything we were taught in law school. It is skills-based mediation training.
Dispute resolution training makes family law lawyers way better at what we do:
I am a firm believer that the more compassionate and understanding I am of my clients and their needs, the way better advocate I am going to be for them. The more I can get my client to imagine being in the shoes of their ex-spouse, for example, the more I am able to get them closer to resolving their family law matter.
Personally, I have done a lot of dispute resolution training. That training has helped me get really good at my job.
And, because I am an imperfect person, I remain an imperfect lawyer.
I pride myself a very practically-minded and solutions-based lawyer who guides her clients through the family process. I am respectful in my communications with opposing parties and with opposing counsel.
At least most of the time. And then there are the times I fail. There are times when I completely and 100% totally fail to be that respectful communicator I pride myself on being.
I am thinking of this one time, fairly recently, where I noticed that (this young and inexperienced) lawyer had filed court documents suing my client and was completely out of time to file them. I am thinking to myself, “Who the heck is this young whipper-snapper who obviously doesn’t know ANYTHING.”
So, I jumped up on my very high horse and I phoned up this young whipper-snapper to tell him a thing or to and to set him straight. I pointed out his error. I was NOT nice about it. I ACTUALLY said, “What kind of DICK move was that?!”
PRO TIP: When doing dispute resolution training, the above kind of example is what we are taught NOT to say or do. In fact, it is an example of what the dispute resolution folks would call poor communication, and NOT HELPFUL in resolving a matter for your client!
So, there I am all up on my high horse and feeling quite proud of myself for being there showing him! Sure enough, this young whipper-snapper reminded me that some limitation dates had been extended due to the pandemic. He was not at all out of time. The only person who was wrong was me.
“Who is the Dick now?!” I said to myself as I was climbing right back down off my high-horse and eating a whole bunch of humble pie on the way down.
So interesting that the second I got up on my high-horse about to tell this young lawyer and was not at all good in my communication it back-fired and I mean immediately!
We have to remember to model great behaviour and communication to our clients and colleagues. Even when we think we are right! Even when we are absolutely SURE we are in the right.
So, my lesson in all of this? Instead of being a Dick, I could have simply gotten curious and RESPECTFULLY asked the question . . . “Aren’t you out of time on this?”
This would have been better for my relationship with this lawyer, resulting in more movement towards resolution for my client. So obvious right?
Plus climbing up on a high horse only to climb right back down again is exhausting.
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