Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law
by DOUGLAS O. LINDER and NANCY LEVIT (Oxford University Press, 2013)

The Good Lawyer

About The Good Lawyer


Introductory Note

The Good Lawyer is Courageous

The Good Lawyer is Empathetic

The Good Lawyer Has a Passion for Justice

The Good Lawyer Uses Both Intuition and Deliberative Thinking

The Good Lawyer Thinks realistically About the Future

The Good Lawyer Serves the True Interests of Clients

The Good Lawyer Has Ample Willpower

The Good Lawyer is Persuasive

Seeking Quality


Random Facts

The Happy Lawyer

Excerpt from Chapter 4:
The Good Lawyer Values Others in the Legal Community

           Until late in his career, Theodore B. Olson held rock star status in conservative legal circles. As head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan Administration, Olson led drives to ease government regulation and to end race-based busing and affirmative action programs. As solicitor general in the George W. Bush Administration, Olson defended the government’s anti-terrorism policies. When attorneys for Paula Jones took their case alleging sexual harassment by Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court, Olson was who they turned to for help in preparing their argument. Conservatives most revered Olson, however, for arguing the 2000 election case of Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court. A white quill commemorating his argument in that case, along with fifty-six other quills marking each of his Supreme Court appearances, is displayed in his office near a framed photograph of Ronald Reagan, inscribed with “heartfelt thanks.”

        In 2008, the voters of California narrowly passed Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to prohibit gay marriage and effectively nullified recent legislation enacted by the California legislature authorizing such marriages. . . . More because of Olson’s strong conservative credentials than in spite of them, the decision was made to call Olson see if he would lead the challenge against Prop 8. Olson said, “I really did not need to give it a great deal of thought.” He accepted the offer.

        After Olson agreed to take on the gay marriage case, he worried that many supporters of gay marriage would raise hell about “this right-winger” having control of a case so close to their hearts. Olson expressed concern that when news of his representation got out, “It would be more about me than about the case.” So he called an old friend and biking trip companion that he had opposed in a courtroom in Tallahassee in the weeks following the 2000 election, David Boies. Would Boies, he wondered, join forces to challenge the constitutionality of California’s Prop 8? Boies, the champion of many liberal causes, jumped at the chance. The press quickly labeled the two lawyers “the Odd Couple,” as if there were something distinctly unusual about a Democratic lawyer and a Republican lawyer working together on a case.

        For Olson, and for Boies, there was nothing odd about their partnership. Olson described Boies as “one of the most remarkable, skilled, talented lawyers that I’ve ever known . . . . He’s a marvel to watch in the courtroom. He’s been an absolute, unmitigated pleasure every step of the way. He’s a wonderful colleague and a very, very dear friend.” Don’t think, however, the two men now see eye-to-eye on Bush v. Gore. They kid each other about the case and Olson praises the work Boies did on the Florida recount case. “I tell him now that he almost persuaded me, but not quite,” Olson said. Despite their political differences, each lawyer expresses respect for the views of the other.

Can Liberals and Conservatives Be Friends?

        There are, of course, reasons why deep friendships blossom more frequently between persons with similar political outlooks. Humans are naturally groupish, and we have long used politics and religion as bases for our grouping. We empathize more readily with members of our group and feel a sense of loyalty to members in our group that makes us react to perceived threats from persons outside our group. . . . . . .