Although the Gasper Law Group specializes in criminal defense and family law, I have worked in varied fields of law with a multitude of clients. While my past clients may have varied, one thing remained constant, my attitude to that client’s case and my approach to opposing counsel. You see, I have one motto in my approach with opposing counsel, whether that be a district attorney or a private attorney, and that motto is, “you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.” This motto has served me well, both in private practice and in the government sector and has helped me secure the best deal for my client.
In Colorado Springs, this motto became patently apparent, recently, as I practiced as a district attorney for the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office. An example would include when a pro se defendant would approach me regarding a plea bargain in his criminal case. Oftentimes, this pro se defendant, naturally upset about the position he would find himself, which included staring down the barrel of straight jail time for a DUI, Domestic Violence, or some other criminal issue, would let that frustration boil over. When that frustration came to a head, the defendant would take it all out on me. Once that happened, you could guess how I reacted to that frustration. Did I take pity on the defendant? Did I give him the best plea offer I could? No way Jose. I would give that defendant the worst plea bargain I could legally get away with. Why? Because attitude means everything!
The same was true in private practice. If the opposing counsel yelled, cursed and made me feel insignificant or foolish, I would rarely give him what he wanted. The same was true on the other side. If I ever became rude or angry to the opposing counsel I would rarely get what I was seeking. That is why I started, many years ago, with an attitude where I am polite, agreeable and congenial with my opposing counsel, whomever they may be.
Many of my former clients had difficulty understanding why I would joke around with opposing counsel right before a deposition, hearing or trial. I would have to explain my motto. Many former clients would, at first, see this “motto” as weakness. It wasn’t until the deposition, hearing or trial began that my client would realize this “motto” was not weakness, but merely a means to an end. This attitude would help “grease the wheels” and end up with a better plea or settlement offer immediately preceding the deposition, hearing or trial. One that truly benefitted the client. If the offer was not beneficial to the client and we actually proceeded to deposition, hearing or trial, the client would immediately see that all the joking was out the window. I would only focus on the matter at hand. I would become aggressive, ruthless and cutthroat once the deposition, hearing or trial was fully underway. My client’s would immediately realize I was all business and completely focused on their case, alone. Afterwards, my client’s would compliment me on my abilities and passion on their behalf. I was always polite and charming out of court, but if I was forced into court, that attitude immediately shifted.
This motto/attitude helped me to mold my reputation in New Orleans. I was highly respected and well known in that legal community. The judges and mediators all knew that I was polite and congenial outside the court, but when I put my foot down and took my stand, I meant it. I cultivated that reputation for years in New Orleans and have worked hard to cultivate that reputation here in Colorado Springs as an aggressive, but cordial, Defense Attorney. I am finally beginning to see that blossom bloom. My reputation is constantly growing here and will continue to do so throughout my years of my practice. It is the most important thing any person can have – their reputation. It is like a flower in that it takes years of hard work and cultivation, but when it finally blooms, it is a beautiful thing to behold.
So the only advice I would give to one who desired to represent themselves, be polite and congenial to your opposition. But when the time comes, show them who you really are. Remember, you do get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.