YELLING, SCREAMING AND CARRYING ON......by Steve Duhl 
Monday, September 24, 2012, 07:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
Recently, a good friend of mine volunteered me to be his corporate lawyer. Like so many people, he was having a problem with a man who owned an apple orchard making claim that my friend owed him for 30 bales of hay the man said he bought because the ground was wet from recent rains. Were it not for the hay, my friend's catering tents would have collapsed when the tent poles gave way or when the tent stakes lost their hold or wedding guests would have been dancing in mud.........or something. The orchard owner said my friend owed him $240 for the hay. I got off the phone believing my friend should pay the $240. I believed that the man did buy hay and that it was not unreasonable to buy it and that my friend benefitted from the hay.

This exact dispute probably happens ten times a day when caterers rent land from apple growers to put up wedding tents and it rains a lot.

Anyway, the apple grower called me and we got along fine. Just because there is a dispute, doesn't mean you've got to act like an ass. So, I was very surprised when the man's lawyer called me 20 minutes later. (Note that when we spoke, he never even implied he had a lawyer. Had he, I would have followed the rule that says lawyers can't speak to represented parties about the matter in dispute.) This is how the conversation went.

Me: You know that this whole thing is about $240.
Apple lawyer: (YELLING) IT'S NOT ABOUT THAT AT ALL. YOUR CLIENT IS GOING AROUND TOWN TELLING LIES ABOUT MY CLIENT AND YOU'D BETTER TELL HIM TO STOP.

...there was more...the apple lawyer's yelling went on until he finally hung up on me. I didn't yell back because...what was I going to say? And how would I say it loud enough to drown him out? Also, he seemed a little worked up and it is tough to reason with worked up lawyers. The lawyer was...it seemed...taking the hay dispute more personally than his client was.

Before, during and after the apple lawyer's phone call, my advice to my friend was: Pay him the $240. "Don't give the money to the lawyer," I said "that will just show the orchard owner that if he calls his crazy, yelling lawyer he'll get what he wants." I always advise my clients not to encourage bad behavior.

I believe the apple lawyer yelled at me because that is what he thought lawyers did. All of this happened a couple of hours North of a big City. It is my belief and experience that big City lawyers are calm and courteous and don't take disputes personally....even when they involve hay. But, it is also my belief that upstate lawyers probably believe that bit City lawyers are mean and tough and screaming and intimidating. And, because they feel the big City lawyers are at the top of the heap of lawyerdom, they are likely to yell and scream and do their best imitation of what they perceive a big City lawyer would do. Even though the big City lawyer wouldn't.

I'm not saying that lawyers here don't yell and scream at each other. But, I don't think things start out that way. (Even if it involves hay.)
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