In Law, what is Sharp Practice?

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  • Written By: Claudette M. Pendleton
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 05 February 2020
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Sharp practice is when a lawyer uses a derogatory, negative, or threatening phrase for the purpose of deceiving someone in order to establish his or her case in a court of law. This type of behavior is considered to be on the borderline of being unethical. Although the behavior is generally dishonest, devious and, often, an improper use of process, it is not completely observed as strictly illegal, however.

An example of a lawyer practicing sharp practice would involve a lawyer in a court proceeding trying to benefit from an obvious omission or mistake of the opposing party in the proceeding. In such cases, it is generally evident that the lawyer is trying to take advantage of the opposing party by using sneaky, dishonest means. To prevent being accused of sharp practice, it may be a good practice for lawyers to take their words and actions into careful consideration before presenting a case.

Although there are lawyers who are guilty of improper use of process, judges should not hastily accuse a lawyer of sharp practice. It is important to make sure that the lawyer is unquestionably guilty of committing the dishonest practice before accusing the lawyer. All details should be carefully examined before making a decision. This is because such an accusation could destroy a lawyer's credibility.


When a lawyer applies improper use of process by threatening to use or by using the criminal process in order to intimidate or persuade alteration of claims in the judicial process, it is generally considered a betrayal and disloyalty to the law process. Sometimes, when these dishonest practices are employed, it prevents those who are misrepresented by sharp practice from claiming their legal rights. When this happens, the judicial process intended to settle disagreements between parties is, typically, impaired. In cases where improper use of process is used, it can cause society to have little confidence in its legal system.

It is, generally, not appropriate for a lawyer or any legal official to participate in the use of sharp practice to attain an outcome that the law process is not designed for. A lawyer, however, may be able to present or threaten to present illegal charges in order to gain an advantage in a proceeding if the charges are associated to the matter. In addition, because regional laws may differ, it is important for the lawyer to make sure that the charges are well grounded and supported by facts as well as acceptable by the local law.


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