Part I: Going to Trial? Tips for Young Lawyers
If you are a young lawyer preparing for trial, or a more experienced lawyer who does not try cases often, there are some reading materials you should pick up. Specifically, Fundamentals of Trial Techniques by Thomas A. Mauet and Winning at Trial by D. Shane Read. Reading these two books should be part of your plan prior to going to trial. This is because both books provide critical information on basic trial techniques. In an effort to go beyond these books, however, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) has an opinion piece on trial tips for lawyers. Below are 10 tips to help you prepare and succeed:
● Make a “To Do” List. You should put together a list of tasks that must be done prior to trial. These should include deadlines, witness outlines, and motions to be filed. Do not forget practical items such as lunch arrangements and supplies needed. Be sure to assign a team member for each task. Likewise, review your list regularly to ensure you are not forgetting anything.
● Check Out the Courtroom. A visit to the courtroom where the trial will take place is important for several reasons. You can identify any practical issues with the space. Likewise, you can identify any technical issues ahead of time. While some courtrooms are equipped with the latest technology, others do not have any in place. Be sure to know how to use the technology available in the courtroom and address any other issues that may be present.
● Read and Reread Everything. Be sure to re-read all pleadings, exhibits, depositions, key cases, and important court rulings. Understand that the complaint and answer establish the burden of proof at a trial. Be sure to have a deep understanding of the allegations, evidence, and applicable law.
● Have a Theme. Remember, you are telling a story at trial. Think about the strengths and weaknesses of your side of the case as well as your opponent’s. Every part of the trial should tell your client’s story: the opening statement, witness examinations, visual aids, and closing argument.
● Prepare Jury Instructions Early. It takes more time than you realize to prepare jury instructions. This also takes legal strategy. Master the applicable law and ensure that your jury instructions are prepared well in advance of trial. Use your jury instructions as a guide for what needs to be proven at trial.
For more trial tips, go to the ABA’s website.
Ancillary Legal is an experienced part of the process, if you need help with your case’s service of process contact us today.