Updated: Apr 28
Trying cases before juries you come to realize that it’s not a good idea to appear to be too darn smart
Particularly when you are still young (say, less than forty), most jurors don’t want some smart young guy making them feel even more miserable about their jury duty by rubbing their faces in his big brain.
On the other hand, litigation requires leadership. You can’t influence the jurors to a positive outcome if they think you’re an idiot. Who would follow an idiot anywhere, except maybe another idiot.
So there is a bit of a dilemma there.
How does a Litigator be smart about what he’s doing without appearing to be too smart while he’s doing it?
My answer: by being doggedly determined to advance the client’s interests without sacrificing one’s humility and good nature.
That’s a simple formula, but it’s not an easy one to put into practice because there is nothing easy about Litigation—it’s a Grind. Doing it well requires constant vigilance and a consistent desire to improve one’s skills. But that vigilance and desire can cause a man to lose his humility because he may start to view lesser-skilled lawyers with disdain. It can also sour him as he realizes that no matter how well he performs his job, the outcome for his client may be less than favorable because much of the process of Litigation is outside of his control. To stay on the Grind, a lawyer must learn that a Litigator is an influencer of events rather than a director of them.
I wish I had a seven-step plan that a newly minted Novice could use to emerge from his Firehose as a fell-fledged and happy Litigator. That would be a holy grail worth pursuing. Unfortunately, there is no such thing—at least that I have ever found. Instead, what I do have is a set of philosophies and techniques that I have learned the hard way over the years through the Grind. Because they are things that I wish I had known when I started, I’ve written them down in this book with the hope that they will be helpful to young lawyers who want to be Litigators rather than Processors.
In other words, I’m just an old clown with stories that I’ve written in down in one place to help the young clowns.
_______________________  Litigation is the process of preparing for trial so that judgment can be rendered.  The Grind is the daily effort of preparing for trial.  A Novice is a lawyer who is learning how to Litigate.  A Processor is a lawyer whose focus is on the process of Litigation rather than its ultimate purpose.