May 13, 2011

On May 12, 2011, Philadelphia legal recruiters Susan Rubinovitz, Esq. and Stephanie Ristvey of SMR Legal Search presented and sponsored a career seminar to Philadelphia area in-house counsel through DELVACCA (Delaware Valley Corporate Counsel Association).  The seminar was entitled Navigating Your In-house Counsel Career in Your Thirties and Beyond:  Making Smart Choices.

Susan and Stephanie were joined by panelists, Cole Silver, General Counsel of Softgate Systems in Princeton, New Jersey and Kevin Stepanuk, Associate General Counsel of Exelon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The seminar addressed the following topics:

  • Ways to be useful to the CEO and Board of Directors
  • Common mistakes junior and senior in-house attorneys make and tips to avoid them
  • How not to act like out-side counsel pretending to be in-house counsel
  • The value of networking
  • Loyalty
  • Intangibles that only come with life’s experiences
  • Staying passionate about the practice law
  • Pros and Cons of being a specialist vs. generalist
  • Knowing when it’s time to look for new opportunities
  • The legal market, what can you expect
  • Interviewing 101, a refresher course
  • Resume: A work in Progress

Approximately 50 Philadelphia area in-house attorneys attended the seminar and cocktail reception that followed where there was lots of networking.  A fun and informative evening was had by all.

SMR Legal Search is a premiere legal recruiting firm that is based in Philadelphia and New Jersey and focuses exclusively on placing attorneys and paralegals in permanent positions.  Their focus is in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and all of Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey, Delaware and New York.  They place attorneys and paralegals nationally as well.  SMR Legal Search’s legal recruiters are attorneys and paralegals who have over half a century of combined law firm and legal recruiting experience.  Their specialties are In-house Counsel Placements, Partner Placements, Mergers, Practice Group Moves, Associate Placements, Paralegal Placements and Diversity Initiatives.  To find out more about SMR Legal Search, you may view their website at or phone 215-665-0800.


Current Legal Hiring Trends

September 28, 2010

It has not happened as quickly as many attorneys would have liked.  However, legal hiring has picked up.  Firms have been seeking attorneys with substantial portable business in almost every practice area all through the recession.  Until recently, many attorneys with large books of business have been reluctant to make moves.  However, more recently, those attorneys have felt confident enough in the economy to pick up their clients and move to other law firms.  Many of these rainmakers have chosen to make the move from large firms to mid-size and even smaller boutique firms.  They have felt that they will be able to avoid the office politics attendant with mega firms and receive the marketing support and more reasonable billable hour rates to enable them to keep and cultivate clients.  Still another group of rainmakers have found other large firms to meet their needs for marketing support and cross marketing opportunities and allow them to still enjoy practicing law.

Now firms are getting busy enough to seek attorneys who are not fully self sustaining especially in regulatory areas such as healthcare regulatory and energy and oil and gas regulation.  Intellectual Property attorneys remain in demand, especially those with degrees in Biochemistry or Electrical Engineering and those with ANDA Litigation experience.

Labor and Employment attorneys  are being sought, especially those with management side restrictive covenant and wrongful termination litigation experience.

M & A is back and more firms are seeking corporate attorneys.  While it is true that deals are taking much longer to come to fruition than in the past, in part due to a tightening of the purse strings of lenders, firms still need attorneys to draft the documents and put those deals together.  Deals involving middle equity markets seem to be coming together the quickest.

Class Action litigation remains busy in many areas including securities, antitrust, and mass torts.  More Asbestos Litigation cases seem to be going to trial these days and experienced attorneys are needed to try them.

The good news is that positions have been slowly opening for stellar litigation associates.  However, many of these positions are for litigation associates with 2 to 4 years of large firm experience.  This is very bad news for the many stellar 6th and 7th year litigation associates who were laid off from large firms during the height of the recession.  A number of these talented attorneys are having trouble finding positions.

Corporations are increasing their hiring of in house attorneys, once again, especially in regulatory areas such as Healthcare Regulatory, FCC Regulatory, and Energy Regulatory as well as Intellectual Property.  These companies are finding that they are busy enough for it to make financial sense to have an extra attorney in house as opposed to paying more outside attorney fees.

Things look very hopeful for a much better 2011 for attorney hiring and the financials of law firms and corporations.  We wish all of the attorneys and paralegals reading this article  much success in their careers and practices.  We are available to help in any way that we can.

Susan Rubinovitz, Esq. is a former practicing litigation attorney and President of SMR Legal Search, a legal recruiting firm based in Philadelphia that focuses on placing attorneys and paralegals in permanent positions with law firms and corporations in the Northeast and Nationally.  SMR Legal Search provides complimentary resume writing assistance, business plan development and writing as well as interview skills training to the attorneys with whom they are actively working.  They also work with law firms and corporations on assessing and filling their hiring needs and helping to implement diversity and other hiring initiatives.


August 27, 2010

Philadelphia Legal Recruiter, Susan Rubinovitz.of SMR Legal Search was chosen to judge The Pennsylvania Lawyers On The Fast Track Awards sponsored by The Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer.  Susan is president of SMR Legal Search, a legal recruiting firm based in Philadelphia that places attorneys and paralegals at permanent positions with corporations and law firms in the Northeast.  SMR Legal Search focuses mostly on placing attorneys and paralegals in Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Prior to becoming a legal recruiter in Philadelphia, Susan Rubinovitz was a practicing litigation attorney for 18 years.

The Lawyers On The Fast Track Awards take place each year to honor those attorneys in Pennsylvania under age 40 who excelled in law practice, pro bono work, community service and service to the bar.  This year The Legal Intelligencer received 106 worthy nominees and this year’s Lawyers On The Fast Track Awards rated the nominees in the areas of advancing the law, community/pro bono service, service to the bar, and other awards won.  It was particularly tough this year to narrow the list down to just 30 winners with so many worthy nominees.

In addition to Susan Rubinovitz, Esq, the other distinguished judges were:

James DeAngelo of McNees Wallace & Nurick – President of the Dauphin County Bar Association and 2005 Fast Track honoree

Dean Roger J. Dennis of The Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law;

John Hanof The Department of Justice – Executive Committee member, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania

Lorraine Koc, Esq. of Deb Shops Inc. – Vice President and General Counsel;

Amber Racine of Anapol Schwartz – Executive Board member, Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia.

The 30 very deserving winners of the 2010 Lawyers On The Fast Track Awards were announced by The Legal Intelligencer on August 3, 2010.

The winners are:

Catherine T. Barbieri, Fox Rothschild
Liam Y. Braber, Jacoby Donner
Morgen Cheshire, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis
Theodore F. Claypoole, Unruh Turner Burke & Frees
Michael P. Daly, Drinker Biddle & Reath
John V. Donnelly III, Cozen O’Connor
John Encarnacion, White & Williams
Leigh Ann Fiero, Blank Rome
Cassandra J. Georges, Above & Beyond Dispute Resolution
Kevin M. Greenberg, Flaster Greenberg
Deborah Hong, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young

Kathryn M. Kenyon, Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti
Jason A. Leckerman, Ballard Spahr k
Emily T. Lewis, Babst Calland Clements & Zomnir
John Lucian, Blank Rome
Jeffrey J. Malak, Chariton Schwager & Malak
Inez M. Markovich, Deeb Petrakis Blum & Murphy
Steven D. Maslowski, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Mehrin Masud-Elias, Duane Morris
Jed D. Melnick, The Weinstein Group
Michael A. Morse, Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti
Alka A. Patel, Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti
Douglas K. Rosenblum, Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti
Brad M. Rostolsky, Reed Smith
Nilam A. Sanghvi, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis
Amanda J. Sundquist, Unruh Turner Burke & Frees
Joseph J. Tuso, Reed Smith
Lyle D. Washowich, Burns White & Hickton
Denise C. Werkley, Unruh Turner Burke & Frees
Su Ming Yeh, Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project

A dinner reception honoring Pennsylvania’s 2010 Lawyers On The Fast Track will take place on October 28, 2010 at The Union League in Philadelphia.

Matchmaker Matchmaker Find Me The Perfect Lateral Partner Match

July 12, 2010

Just as in dating where physical attraction and some mutual interests are a start, the same is with Law Partners and Law Firms, where the amount of portable business and practice areas are just a start.  There are so many other factors that contribute to whether a law partner and law firm are a good match.

Compensation Formula

Law firms vary greatly in their compensation formulas.  Some firms’ compensation formulas reward rainmakers; some reward hard workers; and some reward both.  Before making a move to another law firm, a partner must ascertain what type of compensation formula the firm has, and what type will be most beneficial to them.  If you are a real rainmaker, and a firm only rewards partners for the amount of hours that they bill and recover, then this might not be the best formula.  Likewise, if you are a very hard worker and bill and recover 2300 hours per year, then a compensation formula that rewards production rather than rainmaking would be better for you.  If you both bring in business and work very hard, then a mixed compensation formula that rewards both would work very well for you.

Cross Marketing Opportunities

Before making a lateral partner move, it is very important to assess whether the firm’s practice areas will be helpful to you in cross marketing.  Then, you must ascertain whether the attitudes of the firm’s partners allows for substantial cross marketing.  Some firms have partner who work together to help each other succeed, thus enabling everyone to do better and serve their clients better.  At other firms, there is more of an “every man for himself” attitude.  Often, you will not be able to find this information out on your own, and a legal recruiter who works with that firm and knows them well will be the best source for this informa6tion.

Personality, Attitude and Environment of the Firm

Typically, when we receive partner job orders from law firms, we go in to meet with the hiring partners and/ or manager of legal recruiting and find out as much as we can regarding the firm and what they are looking for in a new hire.  By actually visiting the firm and meeting with these individuals, we are best able to advise potential partner candidates on the personality, attitude and environment of the firm and find the right lateral partners for the firm.  For example, in many of our visits to law firms, the managers of legal recruiting or hiring partners have told us that they do not hire jerks.  However, they often use a stronger word than jerks.  They make it clear to us that the firm has a very congenial environment and do not allow attorneys to yell at others in the firm.  If we are dealing with an attorney who is a yeller, this is good for us to know.  In addition, we know and can advise our attorney candidates which firms are known for having partners who yell at each other and at associates and others in the firm.

Marketing Support

Some law firms put a great value on supporting their attorneys both financially and other ways in their marketing efforts.  Other firms do not put a premium on their attorneys marketing and bringing in business, and do not provide their attorneys with any marketing support.  It is important for you to decide if it is important to you to bring in clients and build a book of business.  If so, you will want to be at a law firm that allows their attorneys to have much client contact and provides financial support and other marketing support such as providing tickets to the Phillies and Eagles games for attorneys to use for potential or current clients, etc.

Financial Stability Of The Law Firm

Some law firms have no debt and fully funded retirement and others do not.  Some law firms made a nice profit last year and others not so nice.  We know the information about the firms that we work with and you should too.  Some recruiters will know this information and can provide you with it.  If not, you should be sure to ask these questions in your second interview, as it should be a very important factor in your decision.  I advise you to wait until your second interview too ask this question, as it may seem like too pushy and presumptuous a question to ask in your first interview.

These are just some of the necessary pieces of information that are needed to make a good lateral partner match.  We wish you the best of luck if you are seeking a lateral partner move, and are available to assist you with drafting your business plan and provide you with as much information as possible regarding the law firms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware and what would be your perfect match.

Some Business Development Tips for Attorneys

June 22, 2010

Many attorneys would be surprised to hear what we at SMR Legal Search find to be one of the most important determinants regarding how much business they will develop.  It is the law firm that they work for.

We work with many attorneys who have not been able to build up their book of business to where they would like it to be.  When speaking with them about the reasons why, the following law firm related reasons are the top ones provided to us: no cross marketing opportunities available at their current law firm, no marketing support from the powers that be at the firm. Time and time again, those are the reasons that are given to us.  Therefore, when choosing a firm to work at, it is very important to ascertain whether the law firm has the necessary practice areas and whether the attorneys willingly cross market rather than viewing each other as competitors.  In addition, you need to find out whether the firm provides the attorneys with a marketing budget and how the hours that they spend engaging in business development are treated.  Finally, you will need to find out whether the more senior partners will allow junior partners and associates to interact with and manage their clients. Very frequently, you will not be able to get the true answers to these questions unless you work with a legal recruiter who works frequently with and is very knowledgeable about the law firms in your geographical area.

Once you have gotten the proper information and made your way to a law firm that is conducive to legal client development, here are some suggestions on how to make rain.  As a legal recruiter, I have done much client development over the years.  I have found that while it is always important to go to networking events, building relationships is the best way to make contacts that will convert into business.  What I mean by this is that you must join groups and actually attend them regularly and get to know the people in them.  It is best if these are groups with other people whom you have something in common with , be it the same practice area, interest in the same charity or other non-profit organization or even a business networking group that meets regularly.  When you meet with people regularly and make an effort to get to know them, they are more likely to refer or introduce you to someone who will convert into business.

In networking, your focus should always be on how you can help the other person, be it something as simple as a restaurant or dry cleaner recommendation and as important as referring business to them.  When the other person sees that you genuinely want to help them, they will want to help you.  And if they are not able to help you, you have done a good deed.

Map out time in your schedule each week for legal client development.  If weekly business development sounds a bit too cumbersome for you, understand that it can be as simple as reconnecting with a couple of old friends, schoolmates, coworkers or clients.  Or if you have more time, make it your business to join a networking or charitable group with regular meetings and map that out in your schedule.  Business development should always be something that you are thinking about.

Always provide excellent service to your current clients.  I have learned from experience that the best way to obtain new clients is to provide excellent service to your current clients.  In addition to the fact that you should always strive to do your best work and provide excellent service to your clients, they will remember and refer you to their friends and colleagues.

Keep in touch with your former clients and see how they are doing and if there is anything that you may do to help them, even if you will not make a dime on that.  In that way, you will be top of mind, and they will want to help you as well, be it give their own work to you or think of you when a friend asks for a good attorney recommendation.  In addition, it is just a nice thing to do.

I hope that these tips will help you, and I will provide additional legal business development tips in some of my future blog articles.  Happy Rainmaking!

Some Dos and Don’ts of Interviewing Part II

June 18, 2010

To recap our Dos and Don’ts of Interviewing Part I posted last month:

Do dress professionally.

Do your homework on the law firm or company.

Do ask intelligent questions of your interviewer.

Do not ask questions regarding salary or benefits before you have an offer.

Do not forget your resume.

Do not say anything negative about your past or current employers.

Here are this month’s Dos and Don’ts of Interviewing:

Do not lie either on your resume or in your interview.

Liars usually get caught.  Whether it be omitting a position from your resume or lying about your current salary, it is too likely for you to get found out, and is not worth it, besides being unethical.  What if you happen to run into the employer whom you worked for for 6 months and left off of your resume while you are in court with your current employer?  Do you really want to have butterflies in your stomach hoping that he or she doesn’t mention that you worked at their firm as an associate?  What if your interviewer runs into your former employer and says “You really paid John Doe a lot and cost me a lot of money.”  These scenarios may sound unlikely to you, but believe me, they do happen.

Do research each and every interviewer or possible interviewer.

With all of the information available on the internet, it is no longer enough to know just about the company or law firm where you are interviewing, you must also research the key players who might be interviewing you.  Whether you are interviewing for a corporate counsel position at a pharmaceutical company, an assistant general counsel position at a hospital or a partner position at a law firm, it will serve you well if you have taken the time to learn as much as you can about the general counsel, assistant general counsel and board of directors of a corporation as well as the attorneys who would be in your practice group and the hiring partner of a law firm.  In addition, to the company and firm websites, there is Hoovers and even Linkedin proves to be a very good research tool.

Do give a firm handshake, make lots of eye contact and smile frequently.

While you may not think that these things matter, they really do.  In addition to assessing your competency to do the job and your work ethic, the interviewers will also be judging how pleasant you would be to work with and how you will interact with clients or potential clients.

Do show enthusiasm for your practice area and for the company or law firm.

Interviewing is not like a first date where you do not want to act too interested or enthusiastic until you know how the other person feels.  It is a time where you want to show strong enthusiasm for your practice area and for the company or law firm and position.  If you are a litigator it is most important for you to exude a litigator’s personality and love of litigation.  If you are an M & A attorney, you must let the interviewer see how much you love doing deals.

Do not go on tangents and ramble on about your accomplishments.

Yes, it is important to let the interviewer know how great you are and how much you have accomplished.  However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so.  Please be sure to answer the question that the interview is asking and not answer a different question regarding a totally unrelated case that you worked on and tell the interviewer every detail about the case. If you can work something really impressive that you have done into answering the question that the interview asked by all means do so.  However, don’t go off on a twenty minute tangent about unrelated accomplishments.  Hopefully, these accomplishments will be listed on your resume and your interviewer will ask about some of them.

Good luck on all the job interviews that you will hopefully, be going on.  I will be rooting for you.

Please look for my next blog article on attorney business development/marketing.

Some Dos and Don’ts of Legal Job Interviewing

May 18, 2010

Legal hiring is picking up, but it is still a very competitive market.  If you are one of the lucky attorneys to land a job interview, that is just half of the battle.  Do not rest on your impressive laurels.  Here are some dos and don’ts for hitting the ball out of the park with your interview.

Do dress professionally

Even if the employer tells you that the firm has casual Fridays and you are interviewing on a Friday, it is vital that you come dressed professionally.  This means a dark suit, tie, white shirt and shined dress shoes for a man.  For a woman, this means a dark suit with a skirt and jacket, and once again, shined dressed shoes.  You must show that you take this interview seriously and that you are a professional.

Do your homework on the law firm or company.

This is something that is so basic, but you would be surprised at how many attorneys do not adequately research the law firm or corporation where they are interviewing.  Potential employers will expect you to know a great deal about them and will be quite unimpressed if you do not.  Today, with most law firms and corporations having websites with substantial information about them, researching potential employers is easier than ever.  In addition, there are other website with information about companies like Hoovers.

Do ask intelligent questions of your interviewer

Once you have done your homework on the potential employer, it should be easy for you to ask intelligent questions based on the information that your research and the information that the interviewer provides you with.  It is best to have a list of intelligent prepared before you embark on your interview.

Do not ask questions regarding salary or benefits

While it seems only fair that if the employer is asking you what you will bring to the law firm or corporation, you should be able to ask what they will pay you, etc.  However, this is not how it works in real life.  Potential employers find it very presumptive when job candidates ask about these items before an offer is made.

Do not forget your resume

While you would assume that the person whom you are interviewing has a copy of your resume, that is often not the case.  Be sure that you have many copies of your resume with you and that it is the same version that was sent to the employer.  Very often, you will be shuttled from office to office to meet with people, and they will not have a copy of your resume.  It will not speak well of you if you arrive unprepared without several copies of your resume.

Do not say anything negative about past or current employers

Never ever ever say anything negative about your current or past employer.  Your current boss may be the biggest jerk out there, and the whole legal community may know it, including your interviewer.  However, you must remain professional and keep the interview on a positive note by not saying negative about him or her.  You can avoid saying something negative by saying something like: “the firm was going in a different direction that I saw my career going” or something equally polite.

We will have some additional do’s and don’ts of interviewing in our next blog article next week.

In the meantime, good luck on your interviews!

Using a Legal Recruiter for Lateral Partner and Practice Group Moves

April 26, 2010

In the current legal market, lateral partners and practice groups are in demand by and making moves to new firms more than ever.  An experienced legal recruiter familiar with the legal market and firms in your geographical area can be key in assisting you to find the right firm that will be your “forever job.”

A good legal recruiter can be invaluable in providing you with the necessary information to make an informed decision about your next position, as well as reaching out in a confidential way to potential law firms and assisting you in assessing and drafting your book of business and business plan.  Below are some vital questions that you should ask before engaging a legal recruiter for a lateral or practice group move:

  • Have you ever practiced law at a law firm before?  If so, what size law firm?

As I am sure you know, there is no substitute for working in law firms of various sizes to know about the inner workings and office politics of different size firms.

  • What percentage of your placements have been in my geographical area?

You would be surprised at how many out of state recruiters will look on the website of a firm half way around the country from them and with no permission from or relationship with the firm, start recruiting for one of their positions.   It is not in an attorney’s best interest on so many levels to have a legal recruiter who has no relationship with a firm submit him or her for a position.  Once your resume is submitted to a firm by an out of state recruiter who does not frequently work in your geographical area, a local recruiter with a relationship with that firm cannot then submit your resume for you.

  • Do you have a relationship with the firm that you are suggesting and have you received permission from or been asked by that firm to submit partner resumes?

This is another key question that you must ask a recruiter.  Some firms will only accept resumes from certain local recruiters that they have a relationship with.  You must make sure that a recruiter suggesting a particular firm to you has been asked to provide that firm with partner resumes.

  • Will you assist me in drafting my resume and business plan, and assessing and drafting my book of business, and is there any fee for these services?

A good legal recruiter will sit down with you and assist you in drafting your resume and business plan and just as importantly, will help you to assess and draft your book of business.  There should never be any fee charged for these services.   You would be surprised after sitting down with a good legal recruiter to assess and value your book of business how different the actual value may be than what you estimated.  Sometimes it will be higher, and sometimes it will be lower.

  • Have you ever had any breaches in confidentially and what is your process for ensuring confidentiality?

In partner and practice group moves, confidentiality is more important than ever.  You must ensure that your legal recruiter is committed to maintaining confidentiality and has never had any breaches of confidentiality.

  • How do the recruiters in your office work?  Do you work collaboratively or are some recruiters assigned to some law firms and some assigned to others?

This is also an extremely important question.  If law firms are apportioned between the different legal recruiters in a company and only the recruiter assigned to each law firm will receive a commission on a placement at that firm, then, your recruiter may not suggest certain firms to you that are not assigned to him or her.  You must ensure that all recruiters in that legal recruiting firm work collaboratively and that your recruiter has an equal financial incentive to present you to all law firms.

These questions should help you in finding the right legal recruiter to place you and/or your practice group at your “forever job”.


April 19, 2010

Philadelphia legal recruiters Susan Rubinovitz and Stephanie Ristvey of SMR Legal Search placed immediate past chancellor of The Philadelphia Bar Association Sayde Ladov at the Philadelphia boutique law firm, Dolchin Slotkin.  Ladov’s prior law firm, Abrahams, Loewenstein & Bushman, merged with Offit Kurman, a Baltimore based law firm in October 2008.  Yesterday was Ladov’s last day  working in Offit Kurman’s Philadelphia office.  She will begin at Dolchin Slotkin on Monday April 19.

According to an article in today’s Legal Intelligencer, Ladov desired to return to a Philadelphia based law firm with a Philadelphia office culture.  She was introduced to Jerry Dolchin, of the Philadelphia litigation boutique firm, Dolchin Slotkin by Susan Rubinovitz and Stephanie Ristvey of SMR Legal Search.  Ladov stated in the article in The Legal Intelligencer that she was drawn to Dolchin Slotkin, because “the culture was one that was very classy and the firm does wonderful work.” 

Jerry Dolchin was quoted in the article in today’s Legal Intelligencer as stating that Ladov would be “one of the cornerstones of our intended expansion.”  He also stated that Ladov was just the type of attorney that his firm is seeking, someone of Ladov’s age with a large book of business.  Jerry also commented that he was very happy with the visibility Ladov would be bringing his firm.  Ladov stated that all of her clients have indicated that they will be coming with her to Dolchin Slotkin.

Rubinovitz and Ristvey both have extensive experience as legal recruiters in Philadelphia.  In addition, they have worked as an attorney and as a paralegal .  Therefore, they are intimately familiar with the Philadelphia legal market.  Susan Rubinovitz and Stephanie Ristvey work collaboratively with their attorney and paralegal candidates so that the candidates can benefit from the breadth and depth of both recruiters’ knowledge of the law and of the Philadelphia legal market.  Rubinovitz and Ristvey take the time to get to know their candidates and clients and meet regularly to brainstorm on what would be the best fit for both the attorneys and employers with whom they are working.  They are particularly good at thinking outside of the box.

SMR Legal Search is a woman owned business and is based in Philadelphia and New Jersey.  They place attorneys and paralegals at law firms and corporations throughout the entire Northeast with a focus on Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey, Delaware and New York.  Contact their offices at 215-665-0800 or

You Can Be An Effective Advocate Without Being A Jerk

April 12, 2010

After practicing law as a litigator for over 18 years, it never ceases to amaze me how many attorneys confuse being rude and nasty to their opposing counsel with being a zealous advocate for their clients.  I was an extremely zealous advocate for my clients, but was always courteous to and considerate of my opposing counsel.

Being courteous to and civil to your opposing counsel is not to be confused with going along to get along.  It is always paramount that you advocate fully and zealously for your client and do not “give anything away” to gain favor with the attorney on the other side of the case.  However, you do not have to be rude to the attorney on the other side of the case to do so.

Not complying in a timely matter with discovery requests is usually not in your clients’ best interest.  If you are representing the plaintiff in the case, it is certainly not in your client’s best interest to delay the discovery process, as your client wants the case to move along quickly.  In addition, if it is not a contingent fee matter, it may cause your client to incur additional legal fees attendant with unnecessary discovery court hearings, etc.   Likewise, if you represent the defendant in a case, almost always billed hourly, your delay in responding to discovery requests will probably result in extra legal fees for your client, whose interest needs to come before your self interest in billing extra hours in the case.

Likewise, if your opposing counsel on a case asks for a reasonable extension on a discovery deadline, why not say yes?  A short extension will in most cases not prejudice your client, and the opposing counsel will hopefully, remember your courtesy and consideration when you ask him or her for an extension in providing discovery.

In addition, being disrespectful and less than courteous with judges will not gain anything for your client, future clients or for you.  Judges tend to remember which attorneys are rude and arrogant in their courtroom.

In the practice of law as well as in life, the most important thing that you have is your reputation.  Wouldn’t you rather be known as a zealous advocate who is a respectful, courteous person of good character rather than a zealous advocate who is a real jerk?