Tennis, golf, and trial?
Tennis, golf, and trial?
How often you practice will determine your skill set in any endeavor. Why would a trial be different? Yet what practice does one get? Talking on the phone is not the same as being in front of a jury or a judge. Law and motion do not prepare you. Essentially lawyers often go to trial with confidence and chock full of everything they learned in a two hour mock trial class and a three-hour evidence class. Imagine getting in a boxing ring after watching “Rocky”. Think you might take a few to the face? Well so might your client in a trial. If you are evenly matched you might have a chance. Experience in every aspect of trial is key. Experience in preparation of exhibits, trial motions, witness preparation, trial visuals, dealing with the judge, and time. A learning curve in any aspect of trial is as much of a reality as it is in using a 9 iron on the golf course. Preparation and practice are important. Would you want a surgeon whose experience is five hours of class on surgery in medical school? I do not think you would.
Most trials settle so what can you do? Try cases for free or try simple cases without a lot on the line can be one way. While it takes your time so does a round of golf. Also, you can second chair or get an experienced second chair to guide a bit and help you with the challenges. A consultant trial lawyer, that is what I do, first or second chair help, last minute or months in advance. It was the only way I could get as much experience in trial as I wanted, and I still want more. I am always learning.
Or do what many do, using a driving analogy, just jump in the Formula One vehicle and take it around the track at 180 mph a few times, what is the worst that can happen? LOL. After all, you have driven before.
Our legal system allows the idea that all lawyers can try cases float because otherwise many lawyers who charge a lot of money could not actually say they are trial lawyers. To be a “trial lawyer” one needs to try cases. There are trial lawyers and file lawyers. Litigation is not a trial any more than being an internal doctor qualifies one to do surgery. Arguing over an interrogatory response is not the same as trying a case. Drafting a motion is not the same as thinking on your feet in front of a jury.
One thing that helps is to join Toastmasters. A very inexpensive club that practices speaking. Look it up, it is easy to find. It gets you on your feet in front of a crowd. You develop your sea legs so to speak.
Also, you can read great books by great trial lawyers. A new one by Rick Friedman just came out “The Way of the Trial Lawyer” available through Trialguides.com Sign up for their newsletter and new books. A book can deliver ideas and thoughts that you would have to reinvent through a lot of toil and experiences. Why not take the short cut. Being top of your case for trial is like having the newest racket or club for your game. Spend the time, spend the money, or build the right team. If are in a knife fight, your life may depend on experience. For trial, your client’s case will depend on your skillset. Take your duty seriously. Keep learning.