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Might Lawyers Adopt 'Radical Honesty'?

To be honest, I doubt it. And I note that Diane Levin never even goes there in her post at Online Guide to Mediation about the Radical Honesty movement. Levin picks up on A.J. Jacobs' Esquire piece, "I Think You're Fat," in which he tells about his experiences with being all honesty all the time. Levin wonders, quite candidly, whether lying doesn't have its place:

"[I]s lying really always wrong? What if it serves noble ends? Isn't deception just a social lubricant, allowing us to get along? Shouldn't we lie to prevent harm to another? If lying is always wrong, then are studies in human behavior ethically indefensible? What about undercover police work? Or the bluffing, puffery, and lowballing that can characterize negotiations? (And let's not even get started on deception in mediation.) Despite what we tell our children about lies, deception may be indispensable."

Levin is a lawyer, but you'll note she never even asks whether lawyers could get by without lying. We may be shocked -- shocked, I say -- whenever lawyers are portrayed as dishonest, but we can certainly be far from forthcoming in our dealings with each other. What if we were radically honest? Imagine walking into a negotiation and starting with your bottom line:

"While our claim asks for $1 million, my client would be thrilled to get $50,000."
"Deal. I was authorized to go as high as $500,000. After all, the product was poorly designed."
"Hey, I appreciate your honesty."
"Likewise."

Somehow I don't see it. Deception, at least in law, seems enshrined in granite. And that's the truth.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 16, 2007 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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