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3 Tips for Collaborating With Co-Counsel You Don't Like

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 10, 2018 2:57 PM

Will Rogers, the cowboy philosopher, reportedly said that he never met a man he didn't like.

Apparently that was a misquote. In the annals of social history, however, it doesn't really matter.

What matters is that we need to get along with people -- especially our co-counsel. Yes, that means the ones we don't like, too. Here are three tips that can help:

Identify the Problem

When you have an issue with a colleague, it's human nature to think that the colleague is the problem. That's short-sighted.

"Reflect on the cause of tension and how you are responding to it," says Mark Nevins for the Harvard Business Review.

He says to "take an honest look" at what is causing the tension and your role in it. The problem may be your reaction to the tension.

See Their Perspective

It always helps to to see things from another person's perspective. It is practically a rule of law in advocacy, and should be applied in any co-counsel relationship.

In the Art of War, Sun Tzu said you must become your enemy to know your enemy. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, the Chinese general also said.

Some things may be lost in translation, but you get the point. If you are in litigation, try to see things from your own team's perspective, too.

Problem-Solver, Not a Critic

Brian Uzzi, a professor of leadership and organizational change, says rivalries in working relationships can be destructive. You cannot just "ignore, sidestep, or attempt to contain" problems.

"Instead, effective leaders turn rivals into collaborators -- strengthening their positions, their networks, and their careers in the process," he wrote with journalist Shannon Dunlap.

After all, if you are helping your co-counsel you are both winning. By the time the case is over, you might actually like each other.

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