A few months back, I began congratulating the winning attorneys in most of my cases. It’s not because I agree with them, I just do it out of respect for fellow professionals who have helped their clients.
Perhaps they did serve the greater good of or the improvement of law, as I view it. Their job doesn’t involve serving humanity, America, or justice writ broad; their job was to serve the clients and they did a great job.
This is especially true for me because I teach law students and teach them to be good lawyers. It’s great to see law students reading the cases and seeing me compliment people with whom they disagree. To the extent that it is pleasant for people see their names in an e-print I am happy to do so.
Sometimes I will not congratulate winning lawyers. This could be because I do not have time or forget details or because it is too complicated to call it a win. There might even be an extremely difficult case that makes it impossible to praise someone who has successfully litigated. My general goal here is to celebrate the professional achievements of other lawyers, regardless of their positions.
(Note that some of this is a bit of an oversimplification; for instance, prosecutors’ job is to serve their clients—the public—by seeing justice done, not just by securing convictions, though presumably prosecutors who do win a case generally believe that they were indeed properly serving the public, whether or not I agree. However, it is a useful guide for me to think about the issue.