Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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The Cost of Incivility.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | December 3, 2010

No. 537

An article in the New York Times talks about the growing prevalence of impolite behavior and its cost, financial and otherwise.  For example, many people eventually quit jobs or don’t give as much effort because they have been treated badly. Such consequences are rarely reported to the wrongdoers, who are blissfully unaware that their bad behavior is costing them real money.  But there is a price to pay for day-to-day impoliteness to others as well. The best thing about this article is the photo — a couple (maybe married, it doesn’t say) in a restaurant. She is talking on her cell phone and he is texting on his.

A great deal of incivility passes for normal and has become invisible.  Other uncouth behavior is regarded as a virtue, at least by some.  Periodically, I hear about people who want to hire a lawyer who behaves like mad dog — all of the time.

There is a time and place when it is very effective to display anger over an injustice. But by and large, lawyers who trade on continuous controlled rage are wasting their client’s money.  Other lawyers don’t like it, opponents don’t like it and judges hate it. It is not too hard to imagine what unpleasant consequences follow.  This includes judicial admonitions and sanctions. And, of course, when a lawyer who has behaved badly in the courtroom returns in a new case, the new client bears the burden of former misdeeds.  Unfair, but definately human nature.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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