A friend called me last week with a legal problem. After explaining the basic issues about a minor dispute that had exploded into a full-blown mess, he told me he wanted to hire a lawyer who’s “a real pit bull” to make the other side “as miserable as possible.”
I told him there are plenty of so-called pit bull lawyers out there who will do that—as long as you’re willing to pay them. But, I tried to convey, that’s not really what you want.
Lawyers like to advertise themselves as aggressive, all-or-nothing zealots who will stop at nothing to ruin their opponents. Some call themselves sharks. Some call themselves hammers. Some call themselves pit bulls.
I’ve found what they really are, most of the time, are big fat bullies.
A bully is someone who’s so insecure about himself that he has to abuse someone who he thinks is weaker than himself in order to feel better. It’s the same behavior you find on elementary school playgrounds and high school locker rooms. Not surprisingly, a lot of these bullies eventually decide they want to continue making people miserable as lawyers.
You see this behavior play out in the courts as bully lawyers spend all their clients’ time and money battling over stupid and irrelevant legal issues—just to abuse the other side. You see it in ridiculous discovery disputes and pointless procedural battles that do nothing but drive the other side batty and spend ridiculous sums of money.
In the end, no one wins but the bully lawyer—who gets to bill his client by the hour for every stupid, ridiculous legal filing and nasty letter he sends.
We’re not like that.
We try to be more like our loyal black lab, Dude, who spends most of his time laying on our back deck. He is always there. And, if we accidentally leave the back gate open, Dude will still be sitting there when we get home. He’s friendly, easygoing, and loyal.
But when an unknown person comes through the back gate, Dude goes nuts. He barks and growls and looks menacing. I’ve had service people say they can’t work because the “aggressive dog in the backyard” won’t let them in. Of course, as soon as Dude knows the person is friendly, he backs off and goes back up to the deck.
Of course, it’s because Dude’s loyal. He sees our house and his house and us as his family. And he won’t let anyone threaten them.
We’re the same way—friendly, easygoing, and loyal. But, if we think someone is threatening you or your case, we’ll go nuts. Because we’re loyal to you.
That’s the different between a lab and a pit bill lawyer.