Read. Then do. Jurists will share wisdom and observation, but it’s up to you to put that shared wisdom to good use
Read. Then Do. Read the articles in this edition of Advocate. Then go out and do as many of the things that our wise judges advise as possible. The articles in this year’s annual “Perspectives from the Bench” issue include many nuggets of sage advice on what we can and should be doing to better ourselves as trial attorneys. If we take these judges’ perspectives and put them into use in our practices, then we all improve. Our competence as trial lawyers improves, and our interaction with judges improves. Most importantly, the results we obtain for our clients improve.
First, please don’t tell me you don’t know who it is on the cover. Will Rogers, the early Twentieth Century American humorist, can teach us a lot about human nature. Read Hon. Gregory W. Alarcon’s ten lessons from Will Rogers – then go out and follow a few of these tips and see if you can’t improve as a person and a trial lawyer.
The next article is all about how the L.A. Superior Court is upgrading its technology to improve the access to justice. Judges Michelle Williams Court and Samantha P. Jessner discuss in some detail the new technology at the Superior Court, particularly the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Read the article, of course, but then ensure that you take the time to learn how to utilize this new technology; it promises to make all of us more efficient – whether in litigation or in trial.
Jury selection is often considered the single most important part of a trial. Read the article on jury selection by Hon. Elizabeth R. Feffer. Judge Feffer looks at researching jurors on the internet and the ethics of doing so. Then, the next time you find yourself in trial, make sure there is an opportunity to learn more about the jurors using what is available to you online.
Once in trial, a capable direct examination is critical to success and getting all the key evidence in front of the jury. Read the article by Hon. Michael J. Raphael on the examination of witnesses and the ways lawyers can improve in their examination. Then go out and incorporate his tips for a more successful examination.
What would a magazine about trials and judicial perspectives be without an article on successful closing arguments? Read Hon. Anthony J. Mohr’s article on memorable closing arguments. There are great examples of themes based on different situations. Then seek to integrate the themes that fit your cases – after all, you want the closing to be memorable, don’t you?
Read Hon. Michael L. Stern’s article about one of the greatest trial lawyers of all, Abraham Lincoln. Stern, a Lincoln buff, considers a number of “what-ifs” had Lincoln not been assassinated. Why not take a look at your life and think about what you want to do with the next year or five years? Then go out and work to achieve your goals, knowing that you may not be given the time to do them all.
Rounding out this issue, but not written by a sitting judge, we have San Francisco practitioner David Cook’s article on borrowing to finance litigation. This is not something they teach us in law school. Read this carefully before you sign the loan documents.
Martin I. Aarons has been an employment law trial attorney for 10 years. Aarons handles discrimination, harassment, and retaliation cases. He was a finalist for the CAALA 2014 Street Fighter the Year award. He was named a Rising Star for 2012-2016 by LA Super Lawyer, and has been the chair of the CAALA New Lawyer’s Group. www.aaronslawfirm.com.
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