Litigators are, by definition and nature, a litigious and argumentative class. Clients expect a zealous advocate to achieve desired results. However, in unique situations where the experienced litigator is his own client, it is paramount to remain civil in civil litigation.

A recent California Second District Court of Appeal case cautions attorneys to remain civil at the risk of penalization through reduced attorney fee awards. Karton v. Ari Design & Construction, 61 Cal.App.5th 734 (2021). There, an attorney representing himself in a non-complex matter prevailed, opening the door to the recovery of his attorney fees. However, these fees astronomically ballooned as the attorney unnecessarily and overzealously continued to litigate. Ibid. As a consequence, the trial court drastically reduced his recoverable attorney fees from approximately $300,000 to $90,000, and made him an example of how not to behave. Ibid.