Queensland Law Society

Professional courtesy - a matter of basic competence

A strong and passionate pursuit of our client’s interests may be all that stands between that client and disaster.

Our client’s interests – not our own. A professional advocate who loses objectivity or cannot remain civil places both themselves and their client at risk.

Pouring petrol on an already bitter dispute does not advance its resolution.

“Tactical” hostility to render an opponent less effective may succeed on television but rarely in practice.

Passion, toughness and dogged pursuit of the client’s position are all virtues that have a potential consequence unless moderated. Cooperation and concession are usually essential in either transactional or contentious work to achieve the result the client is paying for. 

Quite apart from the ultimate damage to our own reputations, an inappropriately aggressive or habitually discourteous advocate is simply less effective. They are not taken seriously and the resolution of their client’s problem becomes subordinate to bickering and “flame wars”.

The duty of courtesy is not just a professional obligation in itself, it is the hallmark of a competent professional.

For a judicial perspective, see the attached link to Justice Phillip McMurdo’s presentation at the 2014 QLS Symposium.