Thanks to Seth Godin for what he calls a fascinating case study, but, sorry Seth, what I call an unbelievable, incredible story of how a non-lawyer beat a law firm mostly on his own (although as the case became known across the Web, he received free help from a number of attorneys and eventually was represented by Public Citizen) because the law firm didn’t play nice. It was estimated that it cost their client hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and they LOST, basically to a nonlawyer. I spent two hours reading this amazing story which reads more like a novel (and I didn’t get to read everything).
It doesn’t make marketing sense to practice law in a way that antagonizes your opponent before you explore opportunities for both parties to resolve their differences in a civil and equitable manner. In the long run, your clients will be happier, and richer.
I have two client firms you are strongly believers in the following philosophy mentioned in Seth’s post:
Lawyers have customers too, and not just the people who pay the bills. If a lawyer can successfully market her ideas to an adversary, she’s far more likely to get a case settled quickly and to her client’s advantage.
Further, a lawyer may actually get referrals from his or her adversary (yes, opposing counsel can be very good referral sources). So, there are two important marketing lessons that can come from this case. One, a satisfied client whom you have saved from expensive litigation (read more work, and client referrals). Second, potential referrals from your adversaries, which is better than having them bad mouth you within the community for a scorched-earth approach to practicing law. For both your sake and your client’s, there are very good reasons for playing nice.