Everyone is always looking for tips on how to be a better lawyer and that does a disservice to those who aspire to be full of the fail while acting in a representative capacity. After sitting in a crowded courtroom for way too long yesterday, I was able to finally witness a lawyer fully exude suck while arguing a simple motion before a crotchety jurist. The following suggestions have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you will win your motion (though they might contribute to your ultimate fate) they however will make you seem like an asshat.
There are several precursors to having these suggestions apply. First, you have to have a disputed matter regarding something minor where the worst that could happen is something relatively insignificant. A motion to compel will suffice, as the Court will likely remedy the situation by just giving the non-moving party time to respond and a stern talking to about being timely. Second, you need to have a responding attorney that is unmoved by a blustering and hysterical movant. Think of a poker player bluffing or a unflappable politician gladly embracing those that wish them ill. Third, you need the moving attorney to do the following:
- Adopt of a stern and judgmental tone. This must begin as soon as the two warring parties approach the bench. The contrast of a happy attorney versus a combative counselor is striking. It will begin the hearing on the appropriate wrong foot (and your opponent will be immediately on the defensive. Win!).
- Display Outrage at the Past (Trivial) Procedural Disputes the Case Has Endured. The suck filled attorney really has to show the court that they are outraged that they didn’t receive a fax “BEFORE THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS WHICH CLEARLY MEANS 5PM! I RECEIVED IT AT 6:23PM!!!” or “COUNSEL HAD THE GALL TO FILE THEIR RESPONSE ONE DAY LATE!” The more consternation the better as it really rubs everyone the wrong way AND makes them think that you think your shit smells sweeter than most.
- Never make eye contact with the other attorney. Their humanity cannot be acknowledged. Ever.
- Use the timeline of the case against the responding party. The issue before the court is likely that the non-moving attorney wants more time. We’ve all been there because we perpetually are procrastinating on matters, except, apparently the asshole presenting this motion. Be prepared to use every past moment of delay against the non-moving party at this juncture: “Seven months and three days ago, this ‘lawyer’ cancelled a deposition failed to reschedule within 48 hours. Despite his insistence that his wife was in the hospital, he never provided verification that justified this delay…And now he is demanding an additional two weeks to respond to my third supplemental requests for production of documents. This Court should not allow this outrage.”
- Refer to the physical heft of your motion. The Court really wants to remember that your simple motion to compel is four inches thick as you attached every email and letter you have ever had with the non-moving attorney. After all, size does matter.
- Look down and away, smirk and shake your head when your opponent is speaking. This argumentative strategy is especially effective when the responding party is stating his name or responding to a question from a judge.
- BONUS: Ignore basic professional grooming standards. The goal here is to channel the frumpy hermaphrodite. If the Judge can’t tell if you are a man or a woman, they will spend the entire time trying to figure it out.
If you follow this simple guide, you will come off looking like an asshole.
Please do not follow this simple guide. Ever.