One of my early mentors as a lawyer gave me some advice about dealing with adverse parties and clients. His advice was…“Always be yourself, unless you’re a jerk, then try to be someone else.” If you find yourself either being a jerk or encountering a jerk, I find it is helpful to take a step back, come up with a reasonable plan forward, and execute it for your client’s best interest.
A big part of my practice is construction and environmental litigation. In one case I have pending, after several months of working with multiple counsel for Plaintiffs, it became clear that we would not be able to come to an agreement on several issues. So, we filed motions with the Court requesting the Court to order Plaintiffs to do certain things in the lawsuit. Instead of reaching out to us and attempting to amicably resolve the dispute, one of the counsel for plaintiffs sent an email attempting to make me look “silly” for even filing the motion. Plaintiffs also filed an opposition to my motion with the court which essentially made the same disparaging remarks.
I know that many of my contractor clients face similar issues on their job sites. No matter how well intentioned you are in trying to resolve a dispute and keep a project moving forward, there will always be people who want to act as a roadblock to progress and raise unwarranted issues.
We see this all the time with change order processes. Sometimes when a contractor proposes a change order others on involved in the project cause issues with getting that change order resolved simply because of their personality. The key to dealing with situations like that is to keep processing your normal procedures in compliance with your contract terms. Make sure you continue sending the notices as required by your contract and as is reasonable on your project. You can also escalate the issue to someone with higher authority if it is appropriate.
Try not to get heavily involved in a “spitting match” with a party that cannot be reasoned with. You have to accept that they will not be satisfied with anything, so all you can do is do the right thing by your client and your procedures.