Richard Conniff, a nature writer for a number of publications including the New York times, writes that offering a sincere apology may have benefits that are deeply rooted in our biology.
“…a willingness to make a conciliatory gesture is often key to holding quarrelsome primate communities together. And the ability to do it gracefully is often a mark of strength, not weakness. We acknowledge that we have violated the standards of acceptable social behavior. We express regret for the harm we have caused. And thus the apology gains us readmission to the human community. It can even be a way to become stronger …”
So here are my final thoughts for 2006 as we move to the New Year: find someone you have wronged and make a sincere apology to them. The person can be a paralegal, secretary or firm administrator, a lawyer on the other side of a deal, opposing counsel in a litigation matter, a current or former client or a friend or family member. Your act of conciliation is likely to help you become a more effective lawyer (and it is the right thing to do!) Happy New Year!