You know how to dazzle the jury box with your closing argument. You know enough now to wing it, right, Icarus? Only if you want to crash and burn.
You’ve watched dozens of courtroom trials on the tube and on the big screen. You’ve watched The Practice, and committed most of it to memory, including the special features. You’ve been the star of moot court every year. You know to never ask a question in court to which you don’t know the answer. You know how to execute a crushing cross of your opponent’s star witness. You know how to dazzle the jury box with your closing argument. You know enough now to wing it, right, Icarus?
Only if you want to crash and burn.
What do you do when the person sitting at the other lawyer’s table has 20 years trial experience to your 20 minutes? Well, short of slumping in your chair and going into the legal dumper, you can get up to trial speed quickly by adopting some of the same tactics those judicial graybeards are using to kick your butt.
We’ve consulted with eight trial lawyers, some of whom were winning cases before your parents went on their first date. Listen up and find out their secrets. And after you’ve racked up a few big verdicts, the only thing you’ll have to figure out is how gracious you’re going to be in victory.
1| Become a Courthouse Groupie
Call the clerks of the court, ask when the top attorneys will be in trial, and go study them. Former Judge Steven Johnson says, “I would go watch the greats in trial, civil and criminal, and study how they did it. Then when those cases went up on appeal, I’d read the original trial transcripts and sit in the mezzanine of the court and listen to the oral arguments. I learned a lot from them.” Indeed. Johnson learned so well he became legendary as a successful St. Louis civil rights attorney and prosecutor before he went on the bench.