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On my way to teaching class today I found myself walking behind someone I knew, but I could not remember who they were.

Being the Midwesterner that I am, I held the door open for an individual and as they walked by, I recognized them as a member of the judiciary that I have appeared before.

Having good manners is important no matter what, but be especially mindful around legal arenas.

You never know who is watching

Change the above scenario and say I was running late for my class. Instead of holding the door open, I could have quickly opened it darted through, letting it close in the person’s face.

Little things like that can make a difference on how people perceive you. That applies not only to judges, but members of the court administration, law school staff, and other legal professionals.

The legal community is small

If opposing counsel is driving you nuts, take a deep breath and reign in your emotions. It might feel great to rip into them now that this case is over. But you will probably see them again and your need to unleash will likely be remembered.

Same thing with professors and members of court administration. Professors have been known to become judges. Suddenly, sending nasty emails to your former professor about why you deserved an A instead of an A- seem rather petty.

Court administration and law clerks should always be treated with the utmost respect. With law clerks, whatever you tell them is likely to go straight to the judge. With that in mind, pretend like talking to the clerk is just like talking to the judge.

This may seem like common sense, but many lawyers to forget common courtesies when interacting with others.