Opinions and Current Issues Blog

Saba Ahmad is a Litigator working on environmental, administrative and commercial matters in Toronto. Learn more at www.sabaahmad.com

Expecting Manners in Law #law #cdnlaw #litigation


I have long been a fan of Miss Manners.   In a recent article of hers, she clarified that a first year law student should not scold her  professor – especially when the lapse is taking a week to tell a job applicant he filled a position with someone else. 

Blogger “Above the Law” has a funny take on it.  What gave a first year law student the idea that she was entitled to “prompt” notification anyway?  Grow up.  There’s no reason to feel “very insulted” by these circumstances.  There might be a rule about being prompt with correspondence, but there is also a rule about going around trying to correct others – that’s a no-no.

I would go further.  If a person has such high expectations of how he or she will be treated, then a career in law might be a terrible decision. In fact, life as an adult might be difficult to navigate.

Being a lawyer means offering yourself up for rejection again, and again, and again. I recall applying for dozens of summer jobs and getting a handful.  I don’t recall expecting prompt notification that I had been rejected.  After law school, one can only get a single client by trying to get 50.  That means being rejected 49 times.

Litigators are often making tough arguments, many of which will also be rejected – by opposing counsel or by judges.  There’s no place for bemoaning the way in which the argument was rejected.  Often, it will happen with reticence.  I have two settlement offers languishing right now.  They were not acknowledged and I don’t expect them to be.  My job is to help my client to find a way forward when dealing with indolent entities.

I have also had clients who don’t return calls.  I remember being surprised by this in the early days of my career.  But now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve learned that there are all kinds of people out there.  It’s an important part of my job to keep on certain clients.  They are juggling a lot of things and they hired me to take the edge off.  They expect me to keep track of their problems. It isn’t my role to expect diligence – especially when dealing with vulnerable people.

I wonder about the “Gentle Reader” in the article.  She expected to command an unrealistic level of respect.  I expect life in law will be a humbling experience for her.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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