Polite lawyers are actually the most aggressive, according to research from across the pond. And if you are hearing a lot of “with all due respect” from your opposing counsel or colleagues (eek!), they may actually be calling you a total idiot. This is not “respect” as Ali G would say, and far from it. The law is a profession often called out for its incivility, so this may come as no surprise for those who have practiced for some time. What may seem to be an attempt at decorum may actually be a thinly veiled jab at your competence. Just remember that you do not have to follow suit. The power of decency should prevail, and you should take up the mantle in your daily dealings with colleagues and counterparties alike.
“Barristers who use the word ‘respect’ when speaking to opponents in court may actually be conveying ‘disrespect’, a new study has found. Research by Nottingham Trent University and De Montfort University has shown that the phrase, which is often used in a ritualistic way during proceedings, can ironically be an indicator of the very opposite sentiment between barristers, and between barristers and judges. The study, published in the Journal of Pragmatics, was undertaken to gauge further understanding of legal proceedings, as the use of the words ‘respect’, ‘respectfully’ and ‘respectful’ is a key way that lawyers remain within the code of conduct during heated courtroom discussion. But the study has shown that barristers’ use of the word can indicate disrespect and undermine the professional competence of other lawyers.”