How to deal with the abusive litigator

Julia Merritt moderated a one-hour panel discussion on Dealing With The Abusive Litigator at the Abusive Litigation Seminar at the State Bar of Georgia on February 14, 2019. The panelists included David F. Root of Carlock Copeland, Frank J. Beltran of The Beltran Firm, Bob Cheeley of Cheeley Law Group, and Kim M. Jackson of Bovis Kyle Burch & Medlin.

But what exactly is abusive litigation? In this panel, the attorneys focused on the interpersonal relationships between opposing counsel. They discussed abusive litigation in terms of “The Courtroom Bully,” “The Interrupter,” “The Objector,” and “The Paper Tiger.” Each of these types of litigators pose a challenge for attorneys, especially young attorneys. The panel gave opinions on how to deal with this type of abusive litigation. The panelists each agreed that first and foremost, each attorney needs to find his or her own voice and litigation style. Julia mentioned that she’ll never be the type of attorney pounding on the podium at trial or having a “Matlock Moment”, but she does use the skills she’s learned as a mother to be assertive and make her presence known. A second method to handle abusive opposing counsel is to rely on legal mentors. Having another attorney to bounce ideas off of and use as a sounding board is invaluable in the practice of law. And finally, the best way to keep personal attacks on lawyers to a minimum is to always focus on the best interest of the client and the facts of the case. Attorneys who need to personally attack other attorneys are more likely diverting attention from a weak case – don’t fall for it! Bring focus back to the case and don’t let personal attacks get in the way.

At Cheeley Law Group, we strive to maintain a constant level of professionalism, regardless of the attorney on the other side of the aisle. William Shakespeare said it best: “Do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.” Professionalism means putting our clients best interest first, every day in every way.