— by Dana Heyde
Attorneys are known for arguing about anything and everything, so it might surprise you if I said that one of the most important things a lawyer can do for a client is to remain silent. Over the years, as I sat in court waiting for my clients’ cases to be called, I listened to other attorneys argue their matters. Many times lawyers would keep arguing even after the judge agreed with them. I watched as the additional chatter caused the judge to reconsider the tentative ruling, and often times, the attorney went from winning to losing.
Recently, I was reminded of how important it is not to speak. On the eve of trial, I found myself seated in the judge’s chambers with opposing counsel and waited for the judge to tell us her preliminary rulings on issues that had great financial impacts for my client. As the judge went through the issues, I realized, she was ruling in my favor on all of them!
I wanted to reiterate the elements that supported my client’s position to enhance the possibility that my client might have a complete win without even taking the stand. Instead, I sat back and silently watched as the judge used the arguments I placed in my trial brief to defend her rulings to opposing counsel. I spoke up only when the judge needed to hear from me, and the result was extremely positive for my client.
Have you ever felt that you said too much and pushed away a client? Or maybe you oversold yourself or your product and lost a sale. Think back to an event in your business where you wished the outcome had been different, and ask yourself, “Should I have stopped talking?”
We often feel awkward during a prolonged period of silence and feel the need to break it by talking. Yet, in the law, sometimes less is more. The same is often true when we are conducting business. Remember, sometimes, silence really is golden.
Dana Heyde is a Partner at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde in Orange, where the firm has had a continuing presence in the community for over twenty-five years. CKLH focuses on Civil Litigation, Family Law, and Estate Planning. CKLH works closely with each client to understand their objectives and guide them through the legal process. CKLH would be honored to help you with your legal needs.