Mallow Highlights the Importance of Civility in Litigation

Shook Partner Michael Mallow has written the introduction to the Association of Business Trial Lawyers' Summer 2019 ABTL Report, which focuses on civility. "What can we do about incivility?" Mallow asks. "The answer is: a lot. But like many good things in life, civility begins at home."
Mallow recounts a conference call in which he exhibited uncivil behavior to opposing counsel. During the call, he realized he was conducting himself poorly. "For reasons I can't now explain, at some point during the call it hit me that I was acting horribly and that I was being anything but the role model I wanted to be," Mallow notes. He and opposing counsel paused the conference call and worked out their issues in a private call. "It was a tough case, and Paul and I were tough adversaries for our clients' positions, but we kept the litigation in perspective—and we ended up becoming friends," Mallow writes. "It was one of the highlights of my career, not for the result, but for how Paul and I were able to conduct the litigation after that horrible conference call."
"Civility is not about being soft, or giving in, or selling your client short. To the contrary, approaching the practice with civility is always in a client’s, and in our own, best interest. Being civil is being able to listen, with intent and thoughtfulness; making an effort to understand the other side’s point of view; and using what one learns to the client’s best advantage. Being civil promotes efficiency and reduces cost because it obviates needless and wasteful arguments and disagreements. Being civil enhances the enjoyment of the profession for all because it reduces unnecessary adversity and enhances well-being. It allows us to focus on the issues that are the most important and material to our clients and the litigation."