Monday, December 15, 2008

In law school, they always teach you the most important practice tip for any litigator is this: be nice to the clerks! I've always taken this to mean all the court personnel: the support staff, the clerks office, the court reporters, and the judge's assistant. So I try to do that. I've always tried to work with them, to be as cooperative as possible, to say "thank you" at every opportunity. But, sometimes it's hard to follow through on that practice tip when those court personnel are dismissive, disrespectful, and on pointless power-trips.

As you might recall from Friday morning, I was not feeling well, but had an appointment to drive 2+ hours to deal with exhibit issues. I stopped in at the office to check my e-mail and voice mail. By the time I got to the court, it was about 1:00. Only one person was in the judge's chambers, the court reporter.

I told the cr who I was there to see. She told me that assistant was out ill that day. The cr was clearly not expecting me. Grr! So this woman just plum forgot about the out-of-town attorney who was making a special trip to come down that day? Didn't tell anyone else? Didn't make any arrangements for the worker who was in the office to help me out? I think the court reporter just expected me to walk away and come back next week. Once she figured out that I was not going to leave that easily, she was very helpful in figuring out where the stuff I needed was and setting me up so I could review it all.

But, man, I kind of want to yell at that other assistant. Why should I bother being nice to you if you can't be bothered to remember a simple appointment?


BellsforStacy said...

This rule also holds true for assistants of all types, and gate keepers in general. Librarians too, and event security staff.

Actually ... it's probably a general rule of thumb to be nice to everyone. Though I'm sure an exception is made for DMV employees who close their windows at 4:55 instead of 5:00PM and who in general make like difficult.

Sucks that she didn't remember the appointment. That's just rude.

S said...

I try to be nice to everyone. I always say thank you to the waiter, even for refilling my water. I'm nice to the toll booth workers. But some people make it really hard. There's one particularly surly woman at our DMV who I fortunately didn't have to deal with because she would have been hard to be nice to.

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