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Opponent lawyer behaving badly and then asking a request for a small delay: an occasion for honest exchange talk?

Hi guys!

The context

I represented an employer in a small lawsuit started by a former employee. At the outset I called the opposite lawyer and proposed a settlement. But he said my proposed amount was not enough. So I went back to my client and increased the amount we offered to pay. But opposite lawyer wrote me a condescending and offensive email (in tone) implying it was still not enough. I called off negotiations.

Opposite lawyer then called me on the phone, and basically asked me if I was a servant to my client or had some spine, and started shouting to me on the phone. I hung up.

I appeared for the employer in the lawsuit, worked on it and ultimately won the case; former employee lost, and was also condemned to pay legal expenses.

Opposite lawyer then asked us to waive my client's right to legal expenses in exchange for them not appealing. We refused.

Then opposite lawyer wrote me they would not appeal and that his client would pay legal expenses at date X.


Date X comes, and I receive an email whereby opposite lawyer attaches a wire transfer for half the amount due, saying his client had paid all funds that were available to him at that date, and that the other half would be paid in another 30 days, when he would receive his monthly salary.

While formerly I would not have responded, this time - after learning assertiveness here - I wrote back:

Me: ... I take notice of Your communication; in the common interest to close this matter quickly, I would however have appreciated to know the intention of Your client (to pay in two tranches) in advance, rather than at payment date.

I will convey the news to my client, that in any case reserves the right to proceed with legal enforcement...

I then wrote to my client, informed him I had communicated my displeasure to the opposite lawyer, but still suggested to do nothing for the moment and wait for the final payment.

Then I received an email by opposite lawyer:

Him: ...I apologize, I had tried to call you without success ...
I would be grateful if you could abstain from legal enforcement so as to not worsen my client's position. I have already set an appointment with him on ... where he will give me the remaining amount that will be promptly wired to the employer.
I look forward to your kind answer...

What to do

If opposite lawyer had been behaving kindly and fairly so far, of course I would not even think about this and just answer "no problem".

My first idea was, still, to write back after some days and say that my client had decided to wait as he had asked.

Then I changed my mind and thought about not responding at all, but still wait for payment. This would go along with his request, but subcommunicate I am no fool, and still displeased that they may be continuing to play games.

Then I started wondering if I could openly grant the request, while simultaneously using "honest exchange talk" to (try to) crystallize a credit, in case I meet him in the future. Like this:

Me: ... I have spoken with my client, and on my request he decided to wait for as you asked.

I trust that You also will take into account my commitment for a friendly closure of this matter in our possible future relations...

The issue I see with this is that it seems to convey weakness and, objectively, granting a request of this kind is not something that costs me and my client much (just waiting some more days, after which days legal enforcement will still be on the table).

My take is that it's best to skip and just not answer. Or maybe I should still answer "no problem"?

Lucio Buffalmano and Kavalier have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier

I'll have a more reasoned go at answering myself:

It doesn't ultimately matter much what I do. He's probably going to make sure payment happens as promised.

And the situation is not likely to repeat itself since my behavior has changed.

Finally, honest talk here would just be a way to compensate for my past unaware posture, and so would be out of place: it needs to come from a position of power, not of weakness. I can't use it to ask "treat me kindly since I did treat you kindly even if you were not kind".

And I think, from a legal point of view as well, it’s best to not show any opening that this person could use against me or my client.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Rock on Bel, owned and trashed that guy who then had to come out and plead with you to have mercy.

I agree with your own analysis: asking for a credit is still an ask -he decides whether to be kind back or not- to someone who originally behaved like an asshole, and felt weak.
So the only way to stress the credit without being weak is to not ask, but to either tell, or express in general terms -"I advised my client out of compassion for someone who lost his job... Bla bla... A buon rendere"-.

His call and shout was probably a power move to try and intimidate/influence your behavior to his advantage, so hanging up was a good call.
I'd personally have replied and been assertive on that call rather than hanging up -something like "yo, who the fuck you think you're talking to", and little later "never again bring that children's game around here" or something like that-.
But that's just my choice out of temperament, hanging up was in many ways even better.

I'd personally also go for not replying at this point.

If you want to stress your credit, it's possible, but best doing so once all has been settled.

Bel has reacted to this post.
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Thank you so much for this Lucio,

every line of your post is full of new understandings for me and incredibly helpful.

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