“Matty told Hatty about a thing she saw/Had two big horns and a wooly jaw/Wooly bully, wooly bully.”
Truer words have never been spoken. Certainly, when Sam the Sham and the Pharoah sang Wooly Bully, they could not have foreseen the impact the song would have on the legal profession.
Ok, perhaps I overstate things a bit. But it’s not an overstatement that bullying has become a real problem for lawyers. Sure, lawyers are obligated to zealously advocate for their clients. But there’s a fine line between zealous advocacy and bullying and other unprofessional conduct (there’s also a fine line between clever and stupid, as another rocker, Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins, is fond of saying, but that’s for another Tip).
In an extreme, but true, example, a New Mexico lawyer was disciplined for trying to run over a judge with his car. Talk about unprofessional. But closer to home, two recent decisions have highlighted the issue and made clear that crossing that line can have serious consequences:
- A lawyer was sanctioned — and subsequently lost his job — for unprofessional conduct in his divorce proceeding, where he was appearing pro se. As the Court explained: “Rather than act in a constructive manner, plaintiff has done everything in his power to undermine the legal process and use his law license as a tool to threaten, bully and intimidate.”
- A law firm was recently sanctioned more than $135,000 for conduct in a deposition. The judge in that case wrote: “The litigation of these actions has been a heated affair to be sure, but that does not excuse unprofessional conduct.”
Sam the Sham apparently took all this to heart as well. After his musical career, he became a poet and a motivational speaker for prison inmates. Maybe he’ll speak to the guy who tried to run over the judge.
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