February 13, 2007


Posted in Present, The Why, The WTF at 8:37 am by Dagny Taggart

There are a surprising number of people who assume that attorneys thrive on adversarial relationships.  Those people are, I think, quite wrong in many cases.

See, attorneys have to be able to think of their opponent’s point of view, whether it be current litigation, or while drafting legislation/contracts/regulations, to make sure the language indicates the intent as clearly and accurately as possible.  Anticipating someone else’s point of view is as important, if not more so, than making a good argument.

And making a good argument doesn’t mean you have to enjoy confrontation.  You just have to be able to choose your words carefully so that you don’t over or under-state your position, and so that you persuade the judge/jury/reader that your position is superior.

I hate confrontation, with a passion.  Seriously.  It gives me ulcers, makes me miserable.  Makes me over or under-eat.  I hate it even more if I think I’ve actually done something to inspire it, because then the nerve-shredding anxiety and stomach-wrenching stress are topped with the whipped cream of guilt and a cherry of shame, making for the world’s worst dessert.

Did I mention I’m not a trial lawyer?

But if I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve it?  I start getting kind of pissed off.  Because anyone who has bothered to get to know me, knows what confrontation does to me.  Knows that it makes it impossible for me to enjoy anything or feel anything good.  And why the hell would anyone who cares about me approach me that way, given those consequences, when it’s really not difficult to just sit down and talk to me? 

I get that it’s important to have the answers, to get at the proof of a case.  I just don’t understand why the process has to be vile, and contentious, and nasty.  I don’t understand why people make things worse in these situations.  If both “sides” are working toward resolution, why the cruelty?

The desire to inflict pain does not come naturally to me, my chosen profession notwithstanding.  I don’t understand where it comes from, and I’d like to keep it as far from me as possible.  It solves nothing, gets people no closer to their goal.

But sometimes, there isn’t any proof of something.  There are some things in this world that just need to be taken on faith, if they are to be taken at all.  That’s not the fault of either party, it’s not something that merits recrimination or chastisement.  You can accept it, or walk away from the negotiations table, but why, in the name of all things that make sense, would you be mean about it?


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