In my law firm—family owned for 85 years—several generations of lawyers work together. We try to stay true to our firm’s purpose while allowing individuals the freedom to practice in their own way. I have learned valuable lessons from knowing my colleagues well and sharing a long history with them.
Keep an open mind. Always respect what other attorneys have learned and tried, regardless of whether you would do things differently. Be open to someone else’s approach, and you’ll always learn something. In our first three trials together, my father and I conducted voir dire in the traditional style, relying on jurors to identify their own biases. After learning other approaches, I conducted several voir dires using what I had learned to connect with jurors. My father liked that approach because it generated honest discussion, revealing biases and hard-held opinions. He plans to use it in his next trial.
Deal with disagreements. Working closely with people inevitably leads to disagreements, but remember that you share the same goals for your clients. In the end, that matters more than any individual friction. Sometimes, the best course of action is to step back and allow the person who feels wounded to heal with time—even if that person is you.
Better together. Having conducted several trials with my father, I know without a doubt that two heads and two hearts are better than one. The marvelous thing about plaintiff lawyers is that we fight for the same goal—to right wrongs. No matter how competitive we are, we can all make each other better.