Amy Abdo | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Amy Abdo

Background:  

Fennemore Craig is a leading law firm representing businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the West for more than 130 years. Based in Phoenix, the firm has six offices in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado.

The Mistake:

I thought that my clients would view a friendly relationship with an adversary as a weakness.

I’m a litigator, and I once thought that I could not be friendly with or get to know my adversaries. When we grow up playing sports, your adversary is your enemy. You want to crush them. Don’t get me wrong, I was always respectful. I wasn’t rude or anything like that. I was always nice, but I thought that my clients would view a friendly relationship with an adversary as a weakness. By friendly, I just mean getting to know them a little bit.

I had to cross the line one time when I was at a deposition in a small town in Texas. I was a young litigator and I went to a local restaurant and got the last two-seater table in the house. My opposing counsel, who I had been in depositions with all day and who wasn’t the nicest person, showed up. I thought about it and felt that I had to let them sit and dine with me.

I once thought that I could not be friendly with my adversaries.

The Lesson:

That meal really changed my perception and perspective. It showed me how building a friendly relationship leads to greater respect, trust and the ability to truly work together toward a resolution that best serves both of our clients.    

I learned through experience that being friendly is a significant strength. Kindness, respect and an interest in others go a long way. Despite what most people think, it’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of boldness, confidence and strength. So, I always advocate for being kind, understanding and accommodating, while remaining a kick-butt litigator in the court room. Those things are harmonious with one another.

Follow Fennemore Craig on Twitter at @FennemoreCraig.

Photo courtesy of Amy Abdo

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