The Atlanta Lawyer May 2017 - Page 14

FEATURE TAKE YOUR ADVERSARY TO LUNCH Richard Caplan LeClairRyan There are many ways being a law- yer can be stressful. Two come im- mediately to mind for me. First, one has to have a fulsome grasp of the facts and the ever-changing law that are relevant to your case, demanding attention to detail that requires constant upkeep. Every- one in this profession signed up for that. Second, one has to deal with opposing counsel. There are occasions—too few, it often feels ADVERTISE WITH US! find out more like—where opposing counsel work well together, and, while remaining zealous advocates for their clients, also remain cordial, professional, “There are too many occasions where the relationship between opposing counsel breaks down.” and cooperative with each other. But there are too many occasions where the relationship between op- posing counsel breaks down. When this happens, it can make working on a case a painful proposition. And it is bad not only for the relationship between the attorneys themselves. It may well have an impact on the resolution of the case itself. The scenario is too familiar. A dis- covery dispute emerges in your case. You receive an email that you believe not only to be inaccurate, but to be written in a nasty tone. Your response ups the ante. After a few more emails back and forth, all of course eventually attached to a motion to the court, counsels’ hardened positions on a small issue that could have been handled with a call or meeting have resulted in bit- ter feelings that permeate the entire case and what is left of a working relationship. It does not have to be this way. At- torneys can and should understand that we do not need to jettison pro- fessionalism and civility to perform our jobs well. 14 May 2017 In an effort to foster that under- standing, the Atlanta Bar’s Litiga- tion Section began its Take Your Adversary to Lunch program in 1997. (Coffee or drinks would suffice as well.) This year, as in the past, the section further incentivized participation by holding a draw- ing and awarding gift cards. This year’s winners of Buckhead Life Gift Cards were Kevin O’Sullivan and Steven Wagner ($200); Daniel Park and Alex Barfield ($150); my- self and Nick Protentis ($100); and Erin Krinsky and Matthew Her- rington ($50). I was not informed until after winning that doing so also required a brief article from me on the event, although I would not have changed a thing. As noted, I went to lunch with Nick Protentis, a plaintiff’s attorney at Miller & Bonham. Nick and I are on opposite sides of a product li- ability case filed in February 2015. Because the case is still technically active I will not go into details. But suffice it to say that, and do not be shocked, reader, but discovery got a bit contentious. Among other procedural maneuvers, there was a motion to compel and there were phone calls and hearings with the Judge. In sum, communications between the parties became less