I worked for a powerful lawyer once. He was well educated and well connected. He moved in White House circles. He was very wealthy.
He was an old time lawyer – the kind they don’t’ make anymore. He would bang out his pleadings on a typewriter and give them to his secretary to put on the word processor. He was a fearsome litigator and would take an appeal as high and as long as the client was willing. He won some big cases and was written up in the newspapers.
Despite all this, he was unfailingly polite to everyone. He never failed to say good morning to the doorman at his office building. He always recited the beginning of the postman’s creed, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night,” to the person who delivered the mail.
I was astounded by an incident at a deposition in a hard-fought case. Opposing counsel was a smartly-dressed, well-groomed whiz kid from big law. My lawyer introduced himself and put out his hand to shake hands with the whiz kid. It hung there in the air. The whiz-kid would not shake hands. Rude behavior may pass for aggressive lawyering these days, but to my mind, there was more power in the courteous gesture.