When I first started practicing, an older lawyer once told me that I could never be friends with lawyers. He said that I could be friendly and I should be courteous, but I would never make a true friend who was another family law attorney.
I have found this to be completely wrong, but it took me several years to figure it out. Honestly, when I heard it, it didn’t make sense to me, but I figured he’s so much older, he must know a lot more than I do. Obviously, this was a piece of advice that I have since taken and thrown in the garbage.
I have so many good friends who started as opposing counsel. Getting to know other attorneys and building real friendships with them through bar association activities has made having cases against them all the better. I know they are trustworthy, and I don’t have to document every conversation in an email because I know the value of their word. Our friendships and mutual respect means something to us, and we won’t compromise it by acting badly in a case.
Case after case, I have seen that you can truly disagree without being disagreeable. Being friends with an attorney does not mean that you will compromise your client’s position. It does not mean that you will “take it easy” on them or not send out discovery or not file the motions you need to file. Having a case against a lawyer-friend usually makes the case easier. We’ve all had opposing counsel who is rude or nasty, and we know that makes everything harder and more expensive because you can’t just pick up the phone and have a civil conversation.
Lawyers I have had cases with have become some of my most meaningful friendships because in many ways they understand me more than my “nonlawyer friends.” So, if you enjoy and respect a new attorney after a case against them, I encourage you to reach out when the case is over and tell them. It might be the start of a new friendship.