Events abound this month to learn personal injury practice from LA’s best and brightest trial lawyers
One thing that CAALA does exceptionally well is provide plenty of opportunities for “new” lawyers to attend seminars and events that are designed specifically for them. A “new” lawyer is not just a first-year lawyer, but lawyers who have practiced ten years or less or are new to the personal injury plaintiff practice. The events aimed at new lawyers (and even law students) in March are truly fantastic, and I strongly encourage any new lawyer to attend. You won’t be disappointed.
CAALA’s New Lawyer Seminar
Saturday, March 19 at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A. This is an all-day event that features outstanding lawyers covering the entire spectrum of the personal injury practice from the first client meeting to written discovery to depositions to motions for summary judgment to jury trials, and everything in between. You will hear from some of CAALA’s best and brightest and they will share tips with you that will help you navigate your way and avoid unexpected pitfalls. The handouts and materials that are provided to attendees are great. The seminar’s afternoon session culminates with a focus on jury trials – what to expect in pre-trial proceedings, tips for opening statements, direct and cross examination, and closing arguments. The attendees are all invited to a reception afterwards where they can meet and mingle with the speakers. A must-attend event for any new lawyer.
New Lawyers Roundtable
This monthly event always features a successful CAALA trial lawyer who not only talks about strategies in the courtroom but participates in a “Q and A” session with those attending. This is a very popular and well-attended event because new lawyers can ask the speaker all sorts of questions about strategy, “what to do if ...,” and particular issues arising in a case they may be handling. It is an informal yet incredibly informative hour.
Also, it is a great way to meet other young lawyers who share your practice area or have faced your opponent. This new lawyer group is a tight-knit community who help each other out every step of the way. If you have never attended one of these Roundtables, now is the time to do so. This month’s roundtable is on March 15 at the CAALA office.
One of the items that is very important to me is CAALA’s mentor program in which new lawyers are paired with an experienced CAALA member who acts as their mentor. The new lawyer is encouraged to meet with his or her mentor for lunch or drinks and then can use that person as a resource for questions and advice. This is a rewarding program not just for the new lawyer, but most mentors love it also.
Mentors not only share their insight and experiences, but also their work product such as discovery forms, pleadings, and oppositions to motions. You can sign up to be a mentee through the CAALA Website.
AAJ / STAC Mock Trial Competition
The American Association of Justice sponsors this National Student Trial Advocacy Competition (STAC). The annual competition ultimately selects the best mock trial law student team in the country. The regionals of this competition take place at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse downtown on March 10-13. The mock trial competition is judged by L.A. Superior Court judges and also select lawyers from CAALA and other bar organizations. The mock trial winners will compete in the finals in New Orleans at the end of March. This is a great event and CAALA members work hard to make it a success. The law students who compete in this know their stuff. Law students come out in droves to watch their peers in action. It is inspiring to watch young talent in action at this competition.
One of the things I always tell new lawyers who ask me for advice on how to become a better trial lawyer is to soak in all the information you can get on how to try a case, but ultimately be yourself in the courtroom. Jurors can immediately sense a lawyer who is not genuine or who is taking on a persona that does not quite fit. Trials all come down to credibility: credibility of the plaintiff, and credibility of the plaintiff’s lawyer. If a jury thinks you are acting, or bluffing, or simply reading lines from a script, they are not going to like you or believe what you have to say. And that ultimately hurts your client’s case because the jury will likely take their anger or frustration or even boredom out on your client. Embrace your best characteristics and be yourself in the courtroom.
I hope many of the new lawyers out there will take advantage of these upcoming events and programs. We all were “new” lawyers once, and it is programs like these that quickly turn new lawyers into crafty, seasoned veterans in the courtroom.
David M. Ring is a partner with Taylor & Ring, where he specializes in plaintiffs’ personal injury and wrongful death cases. He also specializes in representing victims of crime, particularly victims of sexual abuse, assault or harassment, in civil cases and has obtained many precedent-setting verdicts and settlements in that area of law. He was named Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year (2015) by California Lawyer. The Daily Journal selected him as one of the Top 25 Plaintiff Lawyers in California (2015).
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