I am always a bit uneasy when I see posts on LinkedIn, by lawyers or firms congratulating other lawyers over a victory in court. I’ve been an advocate myself for nearly 30 years, and I’ve been on both the winning side, and the losing side. Yes, it definitely feels better to win. Yes, that’s what our clients pay us to do. But the celebratory postings often gloss over the realities of litigation. They reduce what we do to notches on a belt, and they ignore the often devastating effects of the process, not just in dollars and cents, but the emotional toll on litigants. Winning is nice. But compassion also has its virtues. So does quiet humility. Congratulating ourselves on a job well done changes the focus from the litigants to us, the hired guns, and that’s a dangerous change of focus. When the case is over, and the confetti and balloons are swept away from our self-congratulatory party, the litigants have to live with the result. Lives are changed – usually not ours, but theirs. Perhaps before we celebrate, and even before we undertake the fight, we should think about how the parties will be best served at the end of that fight, and what course of action best represents the ideals of our profession. If we can raise the standard of how lawyers behave and serve the ends of justice, and not just how we win, then we will have something to celebrate. So will our clients.

Deflating the balloons

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