by Hon. Randall H. Warner
Hon. Randall H. Warner
is an Arizona Superior Court Judge
in Maricopa County.
This column provides tips from judges
on civil practice. If there are practice tips
you’d like covered – or if you are a judge
who would like to write a column –
write to email@example.com.
CIVIL PRACTICE POINTERS
Extensions: Good Karma,
When I was a fresh-out-of-the-box lawyer, a seasoned lawyer
gave me this advice: When someone asks for an extension, grant it. You
don’t ask the client’s permission. You don’t extract concessions. You
grant it. Because if you don’t,
the judge will anyway, and
you’re the one who looks bad.
He couldn’t have been
more right. We know that
99 percent of the time lawyers work well together and
freely give extensions. But
occasionally they forget that
accommodating a request for
time—whether it’s answer
time, response/reply time or
discovery time—is good for
both the soul and the wallet.
Of course, the best reason
to grant a requested extension
is that you’ll soon need one
yourself. Put aside altruism,
You may have a work
emergency. You may
be overwhelmed by
your case load. Your child may have a last-minute recital or
a surprise soccer tournament. Rack up good extension karma
when you can.
But what about the client? Sometimes clients, for perfectly good reasons, want you to be aggressive and pursue
the case expeditiously. Sometimes they want you to be the
instrument through which they inflict pain on those who
wronged them. Regardless of the client’s motives, the ethical
rules are clear: Granting an extension is the lawyer’s decision,
not the client’s.
Now, let’s imagine that none of these arguments moves
the client or the lawyer. Let’s imagine the client doesn’t
give a fig for your ethical rules. You want to hold the other
side’s feet to the fire. You want an edge.
And denying an extension request will get
you that. You still have to ask yourself, as
with any tactical deci-
sion: What is the likely
outcome, and what is
this going to cost you
and the client?
The answer is that
the judge will likely
grant the extension,
To be brutally pragmatic about it, a lawyer’s good reputation has monetary value.
Just how many reputation dollars is that
extra week or two worth to you?
Lawyering is hard business. You work
long hours. You have tough deadlines. You
have to work with opposing counsel not
of your own choosing. Don’t make things
harder on yourself. Granting extensions
freely will make your life easier, and it will
make you a more effective lawyer.
You’ll need an
extension one day,
and the best way to
get it is to collect
chits from opposing
counsel along the
way. Rack up good
when you can.