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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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Archive for November, 2014

Small Courtesies

Friday, November 28th, 2014

I worked for a powerful lawyer once.  He was well educated and well connected.  He moved in White House circles.  He was very wealthy.

He was an old time lawyer – the kind they don’t’ make anymore.  He would bang out his pleadings on a typewriter and give them to his secretary to put on the word processor.  He was a fearsome litigator and would take an appeal as high and as long as the client was willing.  He won some big cases and was written up in the newspapers.

Despite all this, he was unfailingly polite to everyone.  He always said good morning to the doorman at his office building.  When the mailperson delivered the mail, he would always greet him with the postman’s creed, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night”.

One day we were at a deposition in a case that was being hard fought.  Opposing counsel was a well-groomed whiz kid from biglaw.  He had a silver collar pin, a pinstriped shirt and an expensive suit.

My lawyer introduced himself and put out his hand to shake hands with the young lawyer from biglaw.  His hand hung there in the air.  The whiz-kid would not shake hands.

Rude behavior may pass for aggressive lawyering these days.  But to my mind, there was more grace and power in the small courteous gesture of an offer to shake hands with opposing counsel.

Give Thanks for Your Enemies

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to write about something to be grateful for even if you are in the middle of a divorce or custody battle.  In the past I have told you how you should be thankful for the problems that life gives you to solve, what to be thankful for, and the things you can learn from a divorce.  Today I write about being thankful for your enemies.

Life is a story with yourself as the protagonist.  And we meet different characters who are allies or enemies.  It is easy to be grateful for our friends and mentors.

Surprisingly, I also have a great deal to be thankful for from my enemies.  The worst boss I ever had as a lawyer was sadistic.  It wasn’t a good day for him unless he brought a little rain into someone’s life.  He drove me and his other lawyers to work 80 hours a week.  But there was no pleasing him.  Once I asked him what priority to give to two tasks he assigned me.  He said, “The first is priority 1, and the second is priority A.”

And yet I learned a great deal from him.  I learned how to write a business letter and a contract.  I learned how to make a business presentation.  I learned how to confront and attack my work.  I learned how to deal with adversity, stand up to bullies, and stay calm in a legal fight.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back on it now, it occurs to me that you can learn as much or more from your enemies as you can from your friends.

Who Is Right and Who Is Wrong?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

While driving to the office this morning, I turned on “The Kane Show” on Hot99.5 FM.  Kane invited callers to tell him and his entourage about a relationship dispute and they would decide who was right and who was wrong.

What a great idea!  I have often said that people in relationships have different agendas and they need a good conflict resolution system.

Marriage counselors can help, but they cost money, and frequently tell you that you are both right (in alternative universes?), which may be true, but is not very satisfying.

Divorce is the ultimate conflict resolution system, but it has some serious drawbacks.  It’s expensive and time-consuming.  Sometimes the judge doesn’t tell you who was right and who was wrong.  And even when the judge does tell you, the judge frequently gets it wrong.

So we have decided, as a public service, that you can post your relationship conflicts in the comments section, and we will tell you who is right and who is wrong.  We reserve the right to be arbitrary and capricious, but at least it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

When Even a Billion Dollars Is Not Enough

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Sue Ann Ham was awarded nearly a billion dollars in her divorce from energy tycoon Harold Hamm in Oklahoma.

But her attorney says that’s less than 6 percent of the couple’s estimated $18 billion wealth.

She is planning to appeal.   More.

 
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