Uncivility In the Legal Profession

On the heels of being helped by a Good Samaritan, I had the unpleasant experience of dealing with an attorney who is very reluctant to transfer files. The client had requested, in writing, that all original paper and electronic files be transferred immediately, since the information was necessary to support some ongoing foreign patent applications.

The attorney kept the originals and delivered paper copies with no electronic files a few days after they were due. The second written request was the same as the first: original files and an electronic version of everything. The attorney asked that the paper copies be returned so that he could “verify” they were correct, but did not make arrangements or even mention the electronic files.

I fail to understand why someone would be an obstructionist in this situation. Why make a bad situation with a client even worse by delaying and hesitating?

One of the issues the client had with the attorney was that at times they felt like he was causing unnecessary problems in an effort to bill a couple more hours. Since the client has ended the relationship, why keep this up? The client sees all of this as more of the same and only reinforces any unfavorable perceptions.

My biggest complaint about attorneys, one that is shared by many, is that some can be uncivil and downright mean in their professional relationships, especially with other attorneys. I fail to see how anyone benefits in such a situation, especially the uncivil and unprofessional attorney. For every delay and obstruction, their reputation sinks that much lower, and in the long run, I don’t understand how they are better off.