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Many people find dealing with difficult people to be challenging. For attorneys, this struggle is particularly arduous due to the nature of their profession. Attorneys often find themselves in high-pressure situations where emotions can run high and conflicts are intensified. Handling legal disputes and negotiations requires not only legal expertise but also the ability to manage tough interactions with opposing parties, clients, and colleagues who might be uncooperative or confrontational. Attorneys must balance their role as advocates for their clients with the need to maintain professionalism and navigate tricky personalities. This highlights the unique difficulty attorneys face in effectively managing challenging individuals within the legal context.

Marissa Joelson, a medical malpractice attorney at Peter Angelos Law and Vice-Chair of the Lawyer Assistance Program Committee, believes that when dealing with difficult individuals, it’s important to maintain a positive approach. First and foremost, staying positive can greatly influence the tone of the interaction. When tensions rise, take a moment to stop and breathe, allowing yourself to regain composure and clarity. Becoming an attentive listener is crucial; by doing so, you can redirect the conversation away from potential hot topics that may fuel conflict. Practicing these strategies equips you to better handle challenging interactions.

You can hear more of Joelson’s insights here:


For over 125 years, the MSBA has served as the home of the legal community in Maryland. Since 1980, we have played a pivotal role in supporting attorneys through the Lawyer Assistance Program, one of the earliest programs of its kind nationwide. Through this initiative, we offer complimentary and confidential aid to attorneys, judges, and law students dealing with personal challenges, such as mental well-being, substance misuse, family concerns, and stress management. For free, confidential assistance from LAP, call 1.888.388.5459.