dispute, man, woman

Conflict Management for Lawyers

Conflict management is one of the essentials of good lawyering. Understanding the role played by a lawyer in interpersonal conflicts helps assess what a good lawyer is. 

In many cases, a good lawyer finds a solution even before the conflicts reach the courtroom. Hence helps to reduce the legal costs involved and the time involved. 

In a way, conflicts are not offensive. They create an opportunity to receive an opposing view. Thereby creating a much better outcome than what it seemed to be. Dispute helps get to the root of the cause that leads to the solution. Without conflicts, it is silent distress among parties, no valuable contribution or conclusion comes about. A good lawyer has a way of getting things to conclude. We are not just addressing conflict as an issue between a client and a third party. Any form of dispute arises within the law firm or between the client and the lawyer per se.

Good lawyering values for conflict resolution:

  1. Talk to people. Do not talk about peopleA good lawyer maintains the conversation directly with the person involved. Speaking about the person involved with a third party is not professional. Every action the lawyer takes is to help find a solution or does not for the time being. Talking about people is never a strength.
  2. Maintain the discussion to be on the issueDuring heated discussions, it is always easy to shift the conversation to be at a personal level. When either of the parties gets involved in making personal remarks, the lawyer brings the discussion back to the issue at hand.
  3. Stay detached from the outcomeWhile we need to have an intended outcome in mind, one needs to leave space for ambiguity. Being open to new thoughts and views can happen only by being detached from the result. It ensures there is no rigidity in viewpoints but helps take a holistic view of the situation at hand to conclude.
  4. Assume the leadership roleLeadership is the essence of good lawyering. They direct the entire discussion and bring the situation under control wherever needed. Then redirect it in the right direction for a suitable solution. They know when to stop and when to allow the flow of conversation. A good lawyer is also a respectable leader where the parties to the conflict can bank on.
  5. Refer to solutions in the form of questionsNobody likes to sell on an idea. They would prefer to choose on their own. That is where questions come to help. A good lawyer does not put a solution for them to accept. He points out a solution and asks if that is viable for them, hence leaves the choice to the parties. All these are good practices of accepting people as they are and helping them find the solution rather than the lawyer making them agree what he intends.

While the above pointers help with the conversations at the table, conflict resolution is more of a mindset than an act. A decision is first made in mind and then brought out. A good Lawyer stands for his client or the firm or for-himself at times. The objective is always to conclude and never for an argument’s sake. That leads to nothing but an ego boost.

A good lawyer wants a solution. Often the battle might be in the courtroom. The intention is always about the resolution of the conflict with or without a legal case.