No Good Deed Goes Unrewarded: Why Professional Courtesy Advances Your Client’s Cause

Vol. 39 No. 1

The author is with Irell & Manella LLP, Newport Beach, California.

I may be the only attorney who hears the words “professional courtesy” and immediately thinks of my mother’s funeral. The reason is that back in 1998, I had a case in which my opposing counsel refused to agree to continue a motion hearing so I could attend the funeral in Chicago, 1,700 miles away. It seems unbelievable, but it happened. To make matters worse, the motion the lawyer refused to continue was a motion for attorney fees for winning an anti-SLAAP motion that dismissed the case, hardly an emergency. But his approach to the litigation was take no prisoners, extend no courtesies—no exceptions. As a consequence, I went straight from the cemetery after the burial to Kinko’s to sign and fax a declaration supporting our ex parte request for a continuance that my associate had to argue back in California. (My father could never understand that.) Not surprisingly, the court granted our request for a continuance.

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