No one likes to go up against "Rambo lawyers" -- those who take zealous advocacy to the extreme and try to win at all costs. (Though to be clear, we're not talking about the real-life Army vet John Rambo, a lawyer in Joliet, Ill., who has rightfully claimed the website RamboLawyer.com.)
Still, some aggressive lawyers refuse to repent for Rambo-style guerrilla attacks and are always out for first blood. How can an honorable attorney fight back, without going Rambo herself?
Here are five tactics that can help:
Keep calm and carry on. Rambo lawyers often aim "to distract, frustrate or anger" the other party, usually "to disguise ... insecurities or lack of proficiency," one litigator explains for Inside Counsel. Try to avoid unnecessary fights, and focus on the substantive issues in the case.
Don't fight fire with fire. Don't fall into a Rambo lawyer's trap by answering his insults with more insults. Shouting matches are unseemly and can get both lawyers sanctioned, Inside Counsel warns, so choose your battles carefully.
Arm yourself with knowledge of court rules and procedures. Some courts, like Denver's civil court, have explicitly barred Rambo lawyering tactics, not just at trial but in "all aspects of the case." Knowing which rules apply and how procedures work can successfully shoot down a Rambo lawyer's outlandish acts.
Document everything. Most lawyers know to memorialize their discussions with opposing counsel, but it's even more important with Rambo lawyers. Your may also want to consider a written request to your Rambo opponent, to stop making disparaging remarks.
Consult your local bar association. Denver's bar association sponsors a free hotline to advise attorneys on how to deal with Rambo lawyers, and even offers to contact the offending attorney to discuss professionalism if needed. Check with your local bar to see if a similar program is in place.