Episode 4: Dealing With Rambo
As a new attorney, you will encounter a variety of difficult individuals on the opposing counsel. From aggressive psychopaths and lazy counselors to over-billers and rule-breakers, this team of Zinda Law Group attorneys has faced them all. From physical threats to elusive pains in the neck, new attorneys can find the answer on how to combat each courtroom character and set their case up for success.
Overall, the experienced team has a tried and tested rule of thumb - stay calm, document everything and set strict deadlines.
On today’s podcast:
● Attorney types: the aggressive, the lazy, the greedy and the rebellious rule-breaker
● Dealing with the aggressive psychopath attorney
● Managing the lazy, lethargic character
● Spotting the greedy over-biller
● When to go to the judge
● How plaintiff lawyers hurt their cases
Type 1 – The Aggressive Psychopath
We have all seen the courtroom tv shows with dramatic attorneys slamming hands on tables, shouting and teeming with aggression, but what does it mean to actually have to deal with them in real life?
Partner and Attorney, Joe Caputo, shares a tale of a courtroom Rambo he encountered who threatened to ‘knock his block off’ when a line of questioning was taken unfavorably.
The resounding advice from the team is to, ‘keep your cool’.
“The best thing to do is not to sink to their level because that just escalates the situation,” Senior Attorney Neil Solomon suggests.
Most of the time, they are playing a strategic game of courtroom intimidation. In other words, they want to see new attorneys quiver. So, instead of giving them the satisfaction, get confidence from your ‘safety net’: know the rules and record every disposition.
“If you know the rules then you shouldn’t be intimidated,” encourages Chrissy Hagen.
Type 2 – The Lazy Counsel
What about those defense attorneys that simply refuse to engage?
Well, the formula to keep the train moving along the legal tracks is simple - letter, call, letter, and call again. If all of these go unanswered, set strict deadlines and keep moving forward.
And, above all, record, record, record!
Neil believes that “showing you bend over backwards to try and accommodate them, but they just refused to move,” is the best way to get a judge to recognize a lethargic defense lawyer.
Type 3 – The Over-biller
Now, the overzealous biller can be hard to spot, but thankfully, easy to deal with once you’re onto their game.
“[It is] important to document the file and just keep track of all of the ridiculous things that they are asking for, everything that has already been provided and also make a point not to fall into their trap and play their games,” Chrissy suggests.
Another ‘great tactic’ which Joe uses is finding out who pays their bill, which will usually be the defendant or the insurance adjustor, and cut the over-biller off at their funds. That ought to nip the over biller right in the bud.
Type 4 – The Rule Breaker
The rule-breaker tends to ignore court rules and civil procedure “like a bull in a china shop,” warns Jack Zinda.
How Can Plaintiff Lawyers Hurt Their Case?
According to the team, here are are some things that plaintiff lawyer’s do that can hurt their case more than help it:
● Being underprepared and not having a concrete plan and purpose for every step of the case.
● Becoming “jaded” and not treating each case like a big case.
● Assuming that the other side is going to miss or overlook something.
● Not being empathetic to defense counsel and insurance adjustors. Building a relationship with the other side can help you get a better outcome for your clients.
ABOUT THE EFFECTIVE LAWYER
The Effective Lawyer teaches ambitious trial lawyers how to grow their skills and create a prosperous law firm. Using lessons learned by accomplished attorneys from around the country, we discuss lessons learned through their trials and tribulations. Our discussions cover a vast range of topics sought out by attorneys looking for advice, from depositions to how to market your law firm. In each show we cover a new topic that an ambitious attorney would want to better understand, while providing practical skills to improve their legal practice.
The show is hosted by Jack Zinda, Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Zinda Law Group. In less than 15 years, Jack and his team have grown Zinda Law Group from 3 attorneys to over 30, spanning several states and handling a variety of personal injury cases from gas explosions to truck accidents.