This week In Young, Hungry and Committed, after being called a ‘bitch’ by opposing counsel, Manhattan virtual office lawyer, Vivian Sobers explains why effective lawyers are just that.
Recently, one of my clients was deposed by opposing counsel. I thought the deposition went exceptionally well. But as I walked my client to the elevator, I happened to overhear part of the opposing counsel’s cellphone call. In a hushed tone, he stated: “She was such a bitch. She kept making objections.”
Was I really “such a bitch?”
Opposing counsel was presumably a junior attorney at the large law firm representing the adverse party’s interests. Frankly, he looked younger than me, and as you may know, I look young. In other circumstances we probably would have met at a networking event and exchanged business cards. I still think we can.
Not today though. Today, I was a bitch.
I still cannot understand what I did that provoked the word bitch?
Was it bitchy to zealously advocate on behalf of my client’s interests?
Was it bitchy of me to spend 8 hours preparing my client for a 4 hour deposition?
Was it bitchy of me to know the CPLR inside and out so I could make objections?
I guess it was bitchy of me to take the case in the first place and reject the first three settlement offers because they were grossly inadequate.
I know it was bitchy of me to arrive at the deposition early and fully prepared.
I am positive that it was bitchy of me to out-perform and out-maneuver another attorney.
We all toiled through law school for three years. All of us sat for at least one Bar Examination and passed. This is no small feat.
I guess I had a different vision of practicing law than being called a bitch.
I truly thought the legal community was, well, a community.
When I opened my own law firm directly after law school, I assumed all attorneys were part of a secret club. I dreamed of tenaciously arguing with a pit bull-like attorney and swapping war stories over a scotch at the conclusion of the case. I assumed the business of law was, well, business.
If I am out-argued by opposing counsel, I respect them that much more. I don’t hold it against them and call them names.
This utopian view is not far off from my reality. Most of my adversaries are talented, intensely smart and affable individuals. I give them the credit they deserve.
Beyond the credit, I give them the referrals they deserve. Who better to represent one of my marquis clients in a matter than an attorney who has already proven their knowledge and persuasive abilities at my own expense? Being a bitch ensures other lawyers continued referral income, at least from me.
It just seems so childish to immediately try to cut another attorney down in a derogatory fashion after they have just out-performed you. I think we, as a profession, are better than that.
I think all lawyers should aspire to be bitches. If being a bitch is doing your job to the best of your ability, then I am the biggest bitch in New York City. I am flattered my opposing counsel came to same realization.
My name is Vivian Sobers. I am young, hungry and a bitch. Despite the challenges that lie ahead, I am committed to making this practice a success.
Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.