Be a Successful Lawyer: Understand The Law, The Lingo And How To Play The System
Hank Greenberg, former chairman of insurance giant AIG once said "All I want in life is a small unfair advantage." There’s no greater profession that this rings true than law. Whether you are an attorney or criminal lawyer, being the best in your profession means more clients, hence more bank.
However, you need to understand the law, whether you are a hotshot attorney based in Coral Gables, Florida, or you are a high-flying lawyer based in Atlanta, Georgia, or New York. The stakes are high to be the best.
Here is your unfair advantage.
Learn the Law Lingo
You have to be able to turn on your legalese to the maximum extent possible depending on your audience. Sounding as if you know what you are talking about may be about 60% of the real lawyer’s job. Still, take care to use the correct forms of address. For instance, use “Your Honor” when addressing the magistrates and always refer to your opponents as “the prosecution” or “the prosecutor” and never by name.
Always Anticipate An Appeal
Always work your case as though you are winning, but always anticipate an appeal. The whole point of a conviction appeal is not to retry your case. An appeal court is not the place for you to present your “new” evidence to determine whether your client lost fairly. An appeal court can only set aside its conviction for your case for one of the following three reasons: the verdict was irrational or couldn’t be sustained by the evidence; the judge made an error of law; or there was a flaw in justice on any grounds (basis).
For this reason, you need to keep track of any irregularities during the whole process that will help you fight your case in case it needs to move to a higher court. Keep an “error log” on which you keep track of all possible appellate before and during trial.
Work on Compelling Arguments
As Clarence Darrow said, "the best arguments are those in which you feel like you’re telling a story to the jury as you’re gathered round a campfire.” Emotionally based themes often serve as hook to create imprints for the jury that linger until the time the verdict is decided. So use emotional one-sentence themes and storytelling to make engaging and effective arguments. Also, be friendly. Do not be afraid to smile and do not turn your back on the jury.
Just like actors/actresses spend days, weeks even months getting ready for their roles especially if they have to use unfamiliar props like swords or guns, so should you, because the courtroom is your stage.
You say your trials aren’t like the ones on Court TV, so you are not bringing any ‘props’ into the courtroom? Oh yes, you will. Whether you know it or not, during a trial, you are handling a variety of props including the lectern where you place your legal pad. Every exhibit and demonstrative aid that you show the jury is a prop. Even the computer and the projector that you use to display images are props.
Introduce and use props, such as eyeglasses, cups, books, other paperwork or just using your hands to assist you in making your points to the jury. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your props before your next trial.