By: Tiffanie Benfer, Esq.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in….”Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural address.
Sometimes litigation feels like war. The other party is your “adversary.” There are battles, there is strategy, questions of when and where to spend your resources. You hope for the quick win, but everyone knows that there is the possibility of a drawn-out internecine conflict.
For lawyers and litigants who really care about being principled, kind, and good people, conduct of litigation can bring a dilemma. How to engage in battle without losing what is most important in yourself?
Abraham Lincoln’s words are helpful. Even in the midst of a war that caused untold death and destruction, Lincoln counseled moving forward “with malice toward none; with charity for all.” But, he wasn’t taking a wimpy position by any means. In the same sentence, he urged his listeners not to give up the fight — “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.”
And, so we litigate. Without malice, and without losing our sense of decency, we can still strive to prove our cases, to finish our work, and to work for the result we think is right. I’m going to try to litigate like Lincoln.
Happy President’s Day.