Friday, February 27, 2015

Trial Tips from Practice Masters

Earlier this week, the "Your ABA" publication included an article entitled "Preparation and Attention to Detail Can Pay off at Trial."  This article arose out of a video seminar of about an hour long that can be downloaded for free by any ABA Member.

The article and seminar focused on general trial strategy related to "the little things" in the case and in presentation generally.  Discussion during the seminar ranged across all areas of trial and included everything from how to handle surprise testimony that pops up at trial for the first time (common sense tip: if it is truly a surprise to you, request a brief recess so that you can consult with your colleagues or client or call someone who can help you with the issue) all the way to how you should dress for various days of court (one panel member suggested wearing brighter ties/clothes on days when the attention should be on you, such as opening statements, closing arguments, and key cross examination days).

One of the most helpful tips from the article that I saw came in the very last sentence:
[Andrew J.] Smiley [managing partner and lead trial attorney at the New York firm of Smiley & Smiley LLP] says you have [to] look at trial like a chess match, anticipating your opponent's next move.  "You should anticipate what can go wrong and plan how you'll handle it," he adds.
The mark of a great trial lawyer is being able to make the times when you truly are surprised by testimony -- whether from opposing witnesses or your own -- and turn those times either into advantages for your client or at least not making it appear that you are caught flatfooted.  While there is no substitute for experience, watching others in action can help guide you in the right direction.

Now, here's my question for all of you: Many of us have now tried a number of cases, whether to juries, judges, or arbitral panels. If you could go back and tell your younger self one or two tips to improve your trial skills far earlier in your career, what would those tips be?

No comments:

Post a Comment