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Having a good working relationship with opposing counsel results in a winning situation for everyone � clients, attorneys and the legal system itself. Building that constructive and cordial relationship with your opponent, however, may pose some challenges. It is a major misconception (usually on the part of your client) that an adversarial relationship means a nasty one. This legal model began with the idea that if opposing counsel zealously advocated their divergent viewpoints, then a judge or jury could arrive at the truth, which often lies somewhere in the middle of these opposing arguments. Looking at the adversarial system as a device to garner truth rather than conflict reveals the wisdom of maintaining an honest, ethical and cordial relationship with opposing counsel. A good relationship with opposing counsel promotes dialogue and compromise. It means that deadlines can more easily be extended or moved, which is in the best interest of all clients, and that resolution occurs more readily and is more satisfying for both parties. A genial relationship with opposing counsel most often allows for expending energy on the details of the case, rather than on your conflict or anger with the person across the table from you. If the relationship with opposing counsel is a productive and trusting one, attorneys often can save the client time and money by avoiding useless motions about issues that can instead be worked out informally. Counsel is more likely to successfully use creative solutions. One employment litigator said she was able to avoid deposition costs to her client when opposing counsel permitted her to informally interview the opposing client rather than depose him. This allowed the litigator to test the strength of her case and obtain reliable information through a revealing informal conversation as opposed to an overformal deposition. It also allowed her to be more honest with opposing counsel about the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases. This ultimately led to effective resolution of the case. Another litigator commented that when she has a cordial relationship with opposing counsel she notices that the anxiety level of her client decreases. If you subscribe to the idea that a particular type of energy output results in a similar kind of energy returning, this makes perfect sense. Counsel is also more likely to treat an opposing client with respect if she or he respects that client’s attorney. These are just a few of the benefits resulting from a cordial relationship between lawyers. But what if, despite all of your attempts at decency and cooperation, you are dealing with counsel who seems to thrive on conflict or is simply polarized by the issues in the case? What action you take depends, in part, on what is making the relationship so difficult. Here are some common symptoms of conflict and how to cure them.

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