Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Congratulations To Those Lawyers Who Just Passed the Bar Exam!

Here are some words of wisdom for those joining me in the hurly burly practice of divorce law:

  •  Credibility is everything.  Never lie to the court, your client, or your opponent.  Once you lose your credibility, your ability to advocate is forever tarnished.

  • Balance being aggressive and being courteous.  It’s okay to disagree without being disagreeable.

  • Your client may not know the level of your legal skill but if you look sharp and act professional their perceptions will be positive.

  • Always strive to be the most prepared lawyer in the courtroom.  Your opponent may be smarter or more experienced but they can never outwork you.

  • Don’t ever be afraid of trying cases or having hearings.  Learn how to try cases. Good trial lawyers don’t have to settle short because of fear of the courtroom.

  • Don’t threaten or argue.  This connotes fear.  Quietly prepare and take it to the judge for resolution.

  • Don’t become paralyzed by a fear of losing.  Concentrate on performance not outcome.  Remember – it’s not your life!

  • Don’t be a slacker.  Speed and diligence make you more effective and let you negotiate from a position of strength.

  • Nobody ever said it’s supposed to be easy!

  • All economic rewards from the law derive from productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Make it happen. Don't push paper.

  • Your goal should be excellence in all endeavors.

  • Don’t let it get personal!

  • At all times among your regular reading read books on trial advocacy, legal writing and legal biography.

  • Don’t be a wimp.  Wimps don’t belong in this business.

  • Be a meticulous proofreader. Sloppy mistakes cost time, money and most importantly credibility.

  • For every minute you spend planning you will save 3 minutes.

  • We are a service business.  Treat all clients with respect. 

  •  Keep current with the law, substantive, procedural and evidentiary.

  • Don’t argue with judges.  You will lose.

  •  Keep a journal of legal aphorisms and personal experience, as a learning tool.  Review it often.

  • Write down professional and productivity goals.

  • Watch and learn from the greats in our profession.  Ask them questions. Trial lawyers love to talk about themselves.

  • Learn how to appreciate martinis.

  • Fear no one.

  • Maintain physical, mental, and spiritual balance.

  • Return all calls within 24 hours.

  • Nobody ever got into trouble listening.  Sometimes silence is indeed golden.

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