In the last couple of days, I’ve been posting my favorite excerpts of Stephen Comiskey’s book, A Good Lawyer. We’ve looked at Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, and today move on to Chapter 3. Unfortunately, Chapter 3 isn’t online so readers will have to rely on my favorite chosen parts.
Chapter 3 is entitled “The Venues,” and primarily looks at rules in different places of a practice — settlement, courtroom, etc. My favorite rules of Chapter 3 are:
2. At Settlement: Leave something on the table. At Trial: Take no prisoners.
3. Take a break from your practice as much and as often as you can.
5. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a prospective client is to listen to their story. There are not always legal remedies for every wrong. Sometimes people just need your concurrence that they have been wronged and yur encouragmenet to press on. Even for that person, you still have performed a valuable service, because now they truly can move on with their lives and not forever be upset with themselves for failing to file a lawsuit, misbelieving that it would have had some possibility of success.
8. Each law firm, from the smallest to the largest, has a tone or a morality to it that is consciously set by those in power at that firm. That firm’s moral tone is usually well-known witin its own local legal community. It remains constant, because attorneys comfortable with that morality seek employment at that firm and those uncomfortable with it either avoid working there, or leave once they recognize their incompatibility with it.
10. The practice of law is a calling, it is not a job. If it becomes just a job, consider refocusing your practice areas to reinspire yourself.
21. Just as a screenwriter must require every word have a reason to be spoken, at trial everything you do and say must support your theory of the case.
22. The life of a case through its preparation and then presentation at trial is a roller coaster ride. Don’t dwell on either the highs or the lows along the way. It’s only the end result that counts.
30. Make, and document, sincere reasonable efforts to work out all discovery issues outside of the courtroom. But no matter how meritorious your complaints about oppsing counsel are, expect that the judge will be unmoved by them.
37. The last vestige remaining in our society today of the feudal concept of one person having absolute dominion and control over their own fiefdom, or fief, is the trial court judge in their own courtroom.
41. Praise in public. Criticize in private.
42. Whether it’s praise or criticism, tell your staff your conclusions, give them a chance to respond, listen to what they say, then make sure that everyone moves on.
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