The Fallacy of Aggressive Legal Representation

“If my lawyer is an aggressive ‘hardass’ I will be protected and get a favorable outcome.”

It never ceases to amaze me that anyone really thinks that the above statement represents real protection, or that being aggressive actually produces positive outcomes. A lot of lawyers have made a lot of money trying to sell that sentiment to scared and/or otherwise vulnerable people. It’s also why folks typically don’t like lawyers.

The truth is, that aggressive, attack oriented behavior only encourages being counter-attacked. (And I certainly want to avoid that for my clients.) Authentic strength (see essay) comes from insight, intelligence and wisdom. Pounding the table, raising one’s voice, and/or taking unreasonable positions belie an underlying weakness that is being masked by nasty behavior.

Have you ever been really backed into a corner? What would you do if someone tried to snatch your child from you? What if you thought someone was trying to steal your money? The most peace loving person would lash out strongly if threatened with such things. This seems obvious, yet when people divorce, clients regularly allow their lawyers to take positions that causes their former partner to feel like their children, homes or money are in jeopardy. This is reactive, unwise strategy and it is no wonder that the other person continues to be aggressive and takes unreasonable positions.

People are so vulnerable when they are breaking up a relationship. They tend to be scared and uncertain whether they admit it or even realize it. Somehow, the idea that a good defense is a strong offense has gained acceptance. Good representation needs competency, patience and wisdom–not attack and intimidation that more often than not are counter-productive.