The National Hockey League is presently holding the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As you may know, professional hockey is a an extremely physical sport which often includes physical confrontation. This is because all professional hockey players ferociously compete to secure the lone goal of each player in the NHL, having his name etched on the Stanley Cup alongside every other Stanley Cup Champion. Despite the physical and emotional intensity of competing in such an arena, the National Hockey League has a long standing tradition whereby both teams line up in the the middle of the rink to shake each others’ hands at the end of each playoff series.
Once aspiring lawyers enter law school, they learn of their ethical obligation to zealously represent each client within the bounds of the law. Ethics professors often attempt to demonstrate this obligation with examples of legal positions which are distasteful to public and the attorney presenting the position. In almost each example, the distasteful position is successful. More importantly, it is counsel’s ethical and professional obligation to advance those very positions. If an attorney fails to do so, it is a violation the ethical and professional duty owed to the client. After entering private practice, we have to fulfil this obligation and deal with professional pressures of successfully representing clients. Due to the adversarial nature of litigation and this obligation, litigators can find themselves in hard fought cases which sometimes become contentious.
Fortunately, the practice of litigation in Omaha, Nebraska generally lends itself to cordial and professional interaction. As a result, the completion of case can result in a handshake or a phone call of congratulations regardless if the result is a jury verdict, a ruling from a court or a settlement. However, the handshake or phone call is not the absolute tradition it is during the NHL Playoffs. All litigators, in fact the practice of law as a whole, would be well served to follow the lead of the NHL regardless of the sting of the result and end each matter with a heartfelt handshake of congratulations.