Tail Wagging for Lawyers

By Chuck Driebe

Guess that title caught your eye, didn’t it? Remember when your puppy came up to you looking for food or attention? She looked at you with pleading eyes and wagged her tail. You found yourself responding almost immediately.

The same technique (except for the tail part) is often useful to lawyers. Just be cordial and friendly as you approach the clerk of court, the judge’s secretary, and the security people. The same approach often works on anyone else that you see from parking attendants to hotel desk clerks. Just today, my eye doctor’s nurse gave me a bunch of free medications because of my approach. No need to take that belligerent courtroom attitude with you when you’re not in court.

This concept has paid dividends for me many times. I can recall going into a new courthouse with no idea how things worked there. My tail wagging got me exactly the information I needed and sometimes even more help than I requested.

Here are a couple of simple do’s and don’ts on tail wagging:

  • Do be nice. Approach with a smile and a pleasant greeting.
  • Ask for what you want in an informal way.
  • No need to use a lot of lawyer language, which makes you feel superior. It won’t have that effect on others.
  • Don’t be rude or assume a know-it-all attitude.
  • If you are not getting the exact answer you want, speak to a supervisor at your peril.
  • Remember, you will probably pass this way again (and people will remember your previous visits).
  • Acknowledgement never hurts. Maybe a box of holiday candy to the clerk’s office or even a Christmas or other occasion party for them, which we used to do.

Chuck Driebe, editor-in-chief of SOLO, has a general practice in Jonesboro, Georgia. Contact him at .

Copyright 2008

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Charles J. Driebe

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