How to Be a Good Colleague -- Thank-You Notes

Many divorce attorneys focus on how to be good to their clients in an effort to procure -- you guessed it -- more clients. This is all well and good (well, it's certainly better than being mean to clients in an attempt to get more clients), but let's not forget about our colleagues.

Let's face it: divorce lawyering is a tough gig. We never see people at their best. Our clients are almost all emotionally and spiritually compromised. It's our job to rebuild the trust they have lost, and that job isn't easy. What we do is a lot of slogging through mire day in and day out.

In light of this, let's be nice to each other. And I don't mean being nice in the sense that we refrain from being colossal jerks to each other. I mean being nice in the sense we actually make a volitional effort to do nice things for one another.

There are a number of ways to be nice to divorce attorney colleagues. One of my personal favorites is the thank-you note. (Remember thank-you notes? They are those things you meant to, but didn't, write to everyone who came to your wedding reception and gifted you a toaster.)

I try to write thank-you notes pretty often. For example, I write them:

(1) After hearings to let the attorney know I appreciate his or her professionalism,

(2) When I meet and talk to a new attorney at a CLE to thank them for a good conversation,

(3) After a difficult mediation to show gratitude for the work the other attorney put in to negotiating and resolving the case, and

(4) At the end of difficult cases to show there are no hard feelings.

I got the idea of sending thank-you notes from "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt." TR used to write thank-you notes by the dozens, and people always appreciated it. These notes brightened their day.

Much the same way, receiving a thank-you note from a fellow divorce attorney can't help but make one's day better. It can't help but lighten one's mood and break the monotony of endless demanding or threatening emails.

In the end, a thank-you note is a small thing that goes a long way toward being a good colleague.

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