What It Takes To Be A Great Trial Lawyer – Part 14

A Healthy Respect for the Judicial System

Great trial lawyers have a healthy respect for the judicial system and, if they are jury trial lawyers, for the right to trial by jury and the jury system.  They demonstrate that respect in the way they speak and act around lawyers and non-lawyers.

Great trial lawyers have respect for the judiciary.  They know that the office is more important than the person who occupies it at any given time, and the fact that they have a personality or other conflict with a given judge does not give them license to treat that judge with disrespect.  They do not abuse a personal relationship with a judge, or lead another lawyer, client or potential client to think that their relationship with a judge will affect the outcome of a proceeding.   They do not casually inform a client that a case was lost because opposing counsel had an inappropriate relationship with a judge or that the judge was "bought off."   Indeed, they never say or suggest such a thing, unless they know it to be true, in which event they advise the district attorney or other appropriate authorities.

Great trial lawyers who try jury cases respect juries and the right to trial by jury.  They do not think that jurors are fools who cannot be expected to fulfill their duty under the law or who can be manipulated into reaching an erroneous result.  They do not blame "the jury" when they lose – they instead look to  the facts, the law, or their inability to communicate with the jury in such a way to so as to motivate them to look at the case differently as the reason for their loss. 

That being said, great trial lawyers do not necessarily assume that our judicial system is perfect and does not reform of any type.   Indeed, great trial lawyers are in the best position to know the imperfections of our legal system, and often feel compelled to improve the system to help society reach the goal of having a just, inexpensive resolution of disputes.  Thus, great trial lawyers are not afraid to speak out for change.   They are not afraid to challenge the judiciary to do its share to improve the system.  They are not afraid to point out deficiencies in legal training (before or after graduation from law school) and the impact that it has on the system.   They seek these changes not to improve the standing of current or future client but instead to improve the system to achieve the goal stated above.

The rest of the series.