The Questions Attorneys Ask

Posted: August 12, 2016 by Nazim in Lawyers, Moral High Ground

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Attorneys ask obnoxious, stupid, often insulting questions. It’s not their fault, or at least we don’t think it’s our fault, but this hand-waving justification is the kind of thing that shouldn’t really fly: it’s our job. That justification never stopped me from hanging up a telemarketer, and should not have induced nazis to do theirs. A lot has been written about this by the fabulous Hannah Arendt, someone I’m proud to call a co-citizen. But this isn’t about that. Let me rewind the tape.

It was already a long day of arbitration yesterday when an experienced attorney put his foot in his mouth. It wasn’t a big misstep, and definitely something any attorney could have done. But that’s the point that struck me. He barely lost any amount of that vague score judges and arbitrators keep in their head, olympic-judge style, a triviality in the greater scheme of the case. However, the laypeople in the room certainly didn’t think so. To an outsider, on the other hand, the blunder looked bad: caustic, even offensive. The offending statement was about how one of the parties should have been minding the matters of the case instead of travelling. The travel, however, was to go see the party’s father on his deathbed.

In the middle of litigation, attorneys get so bogged down by the finer details that it’s hard to let go of any of them, and even this blunder triggered some swift retaliation from opposing counsel. I’m sure the laypeople in the room felt a twinge of gratitude or respect for the punishing attorney, but none of the industry folks in the room gave it a second though. Even during deliberation, the issue wasn’t mentioned. We did snicker about another misstep, a much less offensive and blatant one, albeit one that probably tipped the scales in a slightly more tangible way in that case. That moment that might have made news in a small town, slow news day, but it was just par for the course in the industry.

I haven’t come up with a takeaway, here. Maybe, if you’re a layperson, it’s this: if you get involved in a lawsuit, expect some pretty prying and obnoxious questions. But for me, it’s just another of those weird, bewildering things one does for a living. Sincere apologies.

I was reminded of these thoughts by this inspiring link from Lowering the Bar involving SHARKS!

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