Although it was disappointing to see the United States women lose in the finals of the Women's World Cup for soccer, I was struck by the hard play, absence of flagrant fouls, and all-around good sportsmanship displayed by both teams. When a foul was called and a player hit the turf, an opposing player was usually there with a hand to help the opponent back onto her feet. Although so much was at stake, both teams played by the rules and showed respect for their opponents. There was no trash-talking, just two teams with very skilled players doing their best to win.
It is always a pleasure when opposing attorneys show the same level of respect to each other as was demonstrated in the recent soccer tournament. In the legal world, good conduct between attorneys and litigants is called "professionalism".
When parties and attorneys are involved in a lawsuit, it is easy for tempers to flare and each side to throw obstacles in front of their opponents. However, the civil justice system is grounded upon rules known as the rules of civil procedure. Attorneys and litigants that follow these rules can achieve their goals maintaining their own self-respect and earning the respect of their opponent. Although opposing attorneys are advocates presenting one side of a dispute, attorneys still have the responsibility to conduct themselves with dignity and show simple courteousness to everyone involved in the process.
Many attorneys take their "professionalism" very seriously. Like the players in the recent world cup tournament, attorneys can fight hard for their clients but still maintain civility and be polite with their opponents and the opposing attorney. The system works best when this happens.