I enjoyed Professor Anita Bernstein's new paper, The Zeal Shortage, in which she shows how "zeal" has been misinterpreted and misunderstood.
I, too, am a fan of zeal who thinks the term is misunderstood. I once looked up the root of zealous and was surprised to find that it's a cognate of jealous. How are the words related?
When we are jealous we are upset that someone who belongs to us has now sought favor elsewhere. Our trust has been betrayed. We’ve been sold out. If the betrayal is significant enough, we may lose some of our ability to trust others in the future. Disloyalty is a form of social violence.
How does a client feel—how should a client feel—if her trust has been betrayed? When someone who was supposed to be zealous for her turns out to be pursuing someone else’s agenda? If her lawyer pulled his punches because he wanted to stay on the judge's good side? If he didn't fully press the client's point out of fear of damaging his long term professional relationship with the opposing counsel? If he did push a particular argument because the lawyer's other client's might not like it? The lawyer ought to realize and internalize that the client would justly feel some jealousy at being betrayed. And the lawyer ought to be zealous for the client. Understood in that light, zeal is a virtue, not a vice. Bully for zeal!