Playground Bullies and things they don’t teach you at law school
Is it me or does it seem sometimes when you are trying soft-tissue MVA cases you are often time-warped back onto the playground in elementary school, but this time, instead of the Joe Bully pulling your hair and spitting on your food, it’s X insurance defense attorney? Now their tactics may be different, substituting hair pulling for false threats of CR 11 sanctions, mean hurtful insults for eye rolling and knowing nods to their defense counsel counterparts after you’ve gotten through your first hour of deposition. But the behavior seems to still fit the underlying pattern: seek out, publically intimidate, attack, and try to destroy.
Recently, after I filed a motion I received the following in writing from defense counsel “You are the most obtuse, inexperienced young lawyer I have ever worked with.” Now I’d like to be able to tell you that I had enough confidence and experience to just let it roll off me. Or, that I handled it like it did on the playground back in school—with a hard quick punch between the eyes. But, that would be lie.
His words immediately threw me into a tail-spin. Images of my name in the back pages of the bar news flashed before my eyes. I mentally went through every move I made in the case in an attempt to hone in on where I made a mistake and determine how the heck I was going to fix it. To me, at that moment, it was obvious that I must have done something wrong because why else would defense counsel call me a fancy word for stupid – in writing! Long story short, after consulting with my boss, posting on the list serve, and receiving amazing support and advice from other Eagles, I came to learn that I had not done anything wrong. I had, in fact, done things so right that defense counsel was left only with the below the belt maneuver of insult the lawyer.
After I came to the realization that I had not done a rookie mistake in my legal work I was angered at the fact that I fell right into his trap—I allowed his negative energy to distract me, upset me and thereby demean me. Rookie mistake, indeed!
From this experience I request the following be added to the curriculum at law school (I’m only half-joking): thick skin 101; composure under pressure 100; dealing with the absurd 105; how to play games when you are used to being direct 110; and how-to-not get a chip on your shoulder 300 (this should be listed as a higher level class, as it believe it to be an advanced maneuver of which I am still very much a work in progress).