In Which Cultures Clash

 Posted on October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

I recently had a discussion with a lawyer from another culture. One of my clients is a potential witness in one of his cases, and my client got tired of hearing from him. So I sent the lawyer a brief email asking that he not contact my client anymore. I said "please" and "thank you," but otherwise didn't mitigate my speech. Because the rule is very simple:

in representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate or cause or encourage another to communicate about the subject of the representation with a person, organization or entity of government the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer regarding that subject, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized by law to do so.

(Texas Disciplinary Rule of Professional Conduct 4.02). I've been on both sides of the situation many times, and there's never been any drama: you might push the bounds in dealing with someone whom you don't know to be represented regarding that subject, but if another lawyer asks you not to talk to his client about the subject of his representation, you just don't. It's a matter not only of the law (the rule), but also of respect for the lawyer-client relationship.

The lawyer got upset that I had asked him not to speak to my client. He told me that my client was his witness, that he didn't care about the rule, and that he would talk to my client if he wanted to. I think he wanted to fight me over it. His culture, you see, is a culture of honor, and apparently I had inadvertently ((I do try not to offend people inadvertently.)) offended him by asking him not to talk to my client.

If I were so assiduously looking for opportunities to take offense, I'm sure I would find it everywhere. I can't imagine that would be much fun; it might make personal relationships difficult to maintain. And if the people who I perceived as having slighted me rejected and even laughed at ((While I reject this guy's invitations to fight, I'm not laughing at them-I take violence, including the threat of violence, very seriously.)) the idea of letting me fight them to restore my honor, I'm sure that it would be very frustrating. I might even lash out, which in a culture of law could land me in jail and jeopardize my license.

So I don't know how it works out, being a culture-of-honor lawyer in a big-city criminal courthouse. I suspect that long-term results are mixed at best.

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