Trying a case before a judge and jury (and spectators) is probably the most exciting thing I have ever done as a lawyer. Trying cases is not for everyone. It almost always fascinates lawyers and lay people alike. For some practitioners, it can be a paralyzing experience to stand before a judge and jury, while arguing your client’s position. That is why not everyone can be a trial attorney. For me it is exhilarating. It is a high. It is the time for the curtain call and for the show to begin. Stage fright is not an option. It is my time to shine and do so for the protection of the interests of my clients.
Trying a case is not acting, but is that moment in time, when an advocate much reach deep within and find the words and level of emotion needed to reach the jury, make them put themselves in the shoes of your client and thus, deliver the point, deliver “the message”. The reaction from judges and juries is based upon more than years of experience, intense preparation, and the desire to prove right from wrong. Yes, we must stand tall, make our case and dissect our opponents arguments with focus, articulation and the precision of a surgeon. But all the years of experience and preparation does not make a good trial attorney. A good trial attorney can try a case….but a great trial attorney is born with that certain quality that makes them personable to the jury, credible to the judge and innately able to explain why your theory of the case is correct. In other words, why you should win/prevail.
The courtroom can be intimidating, but it is a living, breathing creature that contains many moving parts. The navigation through this maze of traps and black holes must be done with precision, clarity and efficiency. This requires substantive and procedural knowledge of the law, as well as knowing all the persons involved in the courtroom, especially the Judge. Your adversary, court clerk, Judges legal secretary, court officer, and stenographer ALL play a role in the outcome of a trial lawyer’s case. Each individual who comes and goes from the courtroom, the temperature, the level of lighting, and even the comfort of the jurors’ chairs can affect the verdict. As an advocate, I do everything possible, within the rules and bounds of the law, to win my cases for my clients and that includes taking a case to trail and verdict when need be.
It all begins when I stand up in the courtroom. All eyes are on me. The floor is mine. I love it. It is time to sink or swim. You are either ready or you are not. There is no middle ground. My demeanor, mannerisms, dress, confidence and humility are all alive and obvious to all of the jurors to see and observe. The import of making no errors, especially early on, is paramount. Holding doors, apologizing, and assisting others creates the preliminary framework for the trial that has, theoretically, already begun. Let others exit elevator first, don’t speak on phone loudly, or bustle through the hallways as if you were more important than anyone else, to name just a few. The slightest mistake and loss of focus will be irreversible. We are dealing with human beings who will NOT find for you and your client if they do not LIKE you.
While I cant try a case every day, it is surely something I LOVE and that I am good at. I welcome my clients to come see me in action. I love to dazzle them. It is one thing for you to call a client after the trial is over and tell them that you won the case. It is a whole other story for the client to see you in action and to see you shine bright. Remember, there is no pat on the back or trophy for second place. Perhaps I love to talk. Perhaps I love the action of a trial. Perhaps I love to be great at what I do. In the end, I want to WIN because no matter how much you prepare and try your best, if you lose a trial, the client will not be happy…..and I always love to say “clients don’t pay me for my good looks, they pay me to WIN”….and WIN is what I shall do.