The title, itself, will create a stir, even from the lawyers. But , hear me out. In this age of electronics, autonomous and faceless conversation, the missing element is the person. In fact, I am curious why we call our present-day communications, “social media.” There is no need for socializing, meeting and greeting; all you need is a photo and speedy fingers to make contact, and we call that “being there.” At times, ne’er a spoken word is heard. I guess, by now, you figured out I am not one of the millennia.
Unfortunately, that sense of distance is penetrating our professional demeanor and practice. I do believe that many of our lawyers today do not understand the impact (translation – difference) they make with their arguments. They may feel intimidated or accommodative to the judge, or to the adversary, and follow the line of pleasantries rather than their principles.
Many believe that the judge is predisposed or already inclined towards a set resolution. Perhaps, that is true (although my altruism holds it is not). Nevertheless, every judge I know, no matter his/her private leanings, follows the law. That’s where the lawyer reigns supreme. Your argument can tilt the scale one way or the other.
How do you do that? Be prepared (translation- know your case) and practice your argument. Success is not achieved from winging it. When you stand up at court, you are the star performer, not the judge. And, speaking from personal experience, the judge is listening.
My advice: at your next appearance, whether court or conference, come with the attitude that what you say matters, because it does.
Eileen N. Nadelson