Photo by Candace West
Question: Which of these actually happened?
When a frustrated defendant starts banging his head on the table during a workers' compensation deposition, one lawyer swipes the opposing counsel's file.
A Miami lawyer refuses to agree to a continuance requested by a Hollywood lawyer whose wife is at the hospital suffering a miscarriage.
A lawyer calls a bankruptcy judge's findings "half-baked" in a motion and then sends the judge a bottle of wine to apologize.
An email spat between two lawyers goes viral after one calls the other a sexist bully and the other says he will hang up if she curses again.
Two lawyers get in a fistfight on the courthouse steps.
One lawyer spits on another in the middle of a hearing.
Answer: All of these occurred in South Florida in recent years. According to judges, The Florida Bar and heads of voluntary bar associations, it's only the tip of the iceberg. They say civility among lawyers has gone the way of typewriters and Dictaphones, and it's only getting worse.
In years past, lawyers would practice against each other and before the same judges day after day, so it made no sense to burn bridges and make enemies. Litigators would hang up their boxing gloves at the end of the day and have a drink together.
Now lawyers frequently parachute into jurisdictions from out of town and may not know or ever see the same lawyers again.