Should I Be Worried if My Attorney is Friendly with the Other Attorney?
Oct 2, 2018 | Written by: Share|
Throughout my years of practicing family law, at times clients have questioned how I can be “friends” with the adverse attorney. Clients want to know if I can properly represent them if I am friendly with the other attorney.
Initially, I note that with many of the alternative dispute resolution options, it is actually helpful if the attorneys have a cordial relationship and prior experience with one another. If the attorneys are attending mediation with their clients or are involved in a collaborative divorce, both attorneys are trying to help bring a resolution to the case, and the fact that they get along or are “friends” is certainly a benefit.
Generally, it is a small community of attorneys who practice family law. It tends to be an even smaller group who practice locally. Attorneys will see each other at bar association events and in the courthouse, even if they do not have a case together. Some attorneys have known each other from law school, or socially as well. While an attorney should never take on a case where he/she believes his/her relationship with the other attorney will impact the handling of the case (whether in a positive or negative manner), even in hotly contested cases attorneys can be friendly and should always be cordial with each other.
While attorneys are zealous advocates for their clients, they should not be personally involved in the case and they should not have animosity toward the adverse attorney simply because their client does not get along with that attorney’s client. Clients should not be concerned to see attorneys greeting each other, shaking hands and having polite conversations. Ethics rules require attorneys to treat each other with respect, and doing so does not impact an attorney’s representation of his/her client.
In litigation, the “battle” in the courtroom does not require attorneys to hate each other. While sports analogies tend to be over used, it is similar to players on opposite teams who are friendly with each other. They play as hard as they can during the game (sometimes even harder when they know their opponent) and then can shake hands and have a conversation after the game. In my younger days, I played rugby for many years. Rugby is a violent sport without pads. Many players had a certain level of anger toward the opposing team in order to play at their highest level. However, after each game, the tradition is for both teams to attend a party hosted by the home team. The attitudes toward each other while on the field as opposing teams were much different than the attitudes toward each other when socializing after the game. It is no different with attorneys in the court room. Attorneys can do a great job for their clients and still be friendly with the adversary. If your attorney is friendly with the adversary, do not think he or she will be any less effective in representing you. In fact, it is likely that he or she may be more effective in helping to settle the case, or in being a zealous advocate for you.
I have been a certified matrimonial law attorney since 2008, and all three of the family law attorneys at my office are certified matrimonial law attorneys. If you have any questions regarding this issue or any family law matters, please contact me at 908-735-5161 or via email.
William J. Rudnik, Esq. is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. In addition to handling divorce litigation, he is qualified as a Mediator in the field of Family Law under the New Jersey Court rules, and he is trained in Collaborative Divorce. Contact Mr. Rudnik at 908-735-5161 or via email.
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