Another plaintiff’s attorney told me a war story that I’ve often thought about.
The attorney was involved in a very negative lawsuit, where the parties (plaintiff and defendant) apparently disliked each other immensely.
The case went to trial. After the last day of trial, the attorney asked the other party’s attorney if he wanted to go drink a beer at the local tavern.
The opposing attorney, before answering, looked behind to make sure his client (a representative for one of the parties) had left.
She just wouldn’t understand us drinking a beer together, he explained. When he looked back, he saw the representative had left.
So the opposing attorneys went to the tavern, and drank a beer.
I didn’t ask the attorney what he and the opposing attorney talked about at the tavern. But I have some educated guesses about what they didn’t talk about. They probably didn’t trade personal insults. They probably didn’t talk about how righteous they or their clients were, although each attorney probably believed in full that his respective client was right, and at trial covered every important fact and argument in his client’s favor.
But probably, by the time they got to the bar, they didn’t say much about the case at all, other than each politely acknowledging that the other did a good job for his client. And then, the trial disputes behind them, they probably went on to discuss more important things. Their kids. Their health. Their belief that it was important for people- and for opponents, in particular- to drink a beer together. That at a time when our differences have come to a head, and pose the greatest risk to defray us, that is the best time to embrace commonalities.