The Colorado Supreme Court issued no opinions for the week of September 25, 2011.
Even though I have picked 135 juries, and have worked as both a public defender and prosecutor, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to navigating the ins and outs of the legal system. Being an effective litigator and successful at trial is a life-long endeavor, is rarely smooth sailing, and can only come through practice and dedication. But, as of today, this is what I can share with young lawyers who are just entering the fray:
#1: LOSE THE BADITUDE
Bad attitude. Baditude. Nastiness. Lawyer ego plus client ego plus a sense of entitlement equals Baditude. Lose it. It will damage your case and your reputation. Just be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle.
#2 DON’T BE A CODEPENDENT TO CORRUPTION
Your clients will ask you to do things that are far worse than anything you ever thought of in your darker moments. They will ask you to hide assets, put on false testimony, and mislead the court. You can’t. You won’t. Be firm and dismissive (see baditude). If it comes to it, negotiate the return of their money. Show them a legal directory and tell them there are plenty of other choices available. Show them the door.
Compete with yourself, not your opponent. Aren’t you trying to best your last court efforts and learn from your mistakes and missteps? Make a friend out of opposing counsel. You are a member of a community. Your opponent is also your brother and sister at the Bar, as they used to say many years ago. Sure, there are some fools out there, but there are also the boys and girls that brought us seat belts, clean water, desegregation – lawyers are the social architects that have transformed society into a better place. Add a sense of humor to that, and you have some decent people to have lunch with.
#4 PREPARE FAR IN ADVANCE
Anyone can have the will to win, but only a few have the will to prepare to win. Instead of worrying about new business and search engine optimization and marketing, drill down on the cases you have. There is much to do on that file and you know it. Work the cases you have until you know every scale on the hide of the fish.
#5 DEVELOP THE STORY IN YOUR CASE
Walk away from the office. Take a break from obsessing and bickering over discovery. Grab the file and take it to a coffee shop or a park. Look outside. It’s a sunny day in Colorado. (Aren’t they all? It’s one of the major reasons we live here.) Now look back at the file. What is the theme? What is your story? If you do not know how to construct a story, read Robert McKee’s book. It is entitled, what else, “Story.” It is the bible for screenwriters. You don’t like movies. Fine, read “How To Argue And Win Every Time” by Gerry Spence. Either book will serve you.
#6 JURORS: THE ULTIMATE CONSUMER OF YOUR PRODUCT
Run an ad on Craig’s list for mock jurors. Try your case in front of the mock jurors at the office on a Saturday. Talk to the mock jurors. Listen. Try the case in front of a real jury. Talk to the jurors. Listen. They are the ultimate consumers of your product. You can learn a lot from them.
#7 GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE
If you are lucky enough to get the offer – take any position in the government that allows you to try cases. Muni or County court, public defender or prosecutor – just try cases in front of juries. It is a tremendous opportunity. You will be tossed into trial with no experience. Chances are, you will be annihilated. So what? It is a great education. You will develop a preternatural sense of ease. Short of that, the best thing to do is sit in court. Take your files, go down to the courthouse. Ask the bailiffs and courthouse staff who is in trial. Then try and find out who is worth watching. Sit in that courtroom and drink up the art of trial advocacy. A great, heartfelt story is being told with no baditude and a ton of preparation.
Team CBA-CLE Scores a “Hat Trick” with Three International Awards, Including One for Legal Connection
The staff of Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education (CBA-CLE) has so many enthusiastic hockey fans (including recreational players, coaches, referees, and those who just watch) that we thought it appropriate to have a hockey theme to celebrate when we won three awards in 2011. The “Hat Trick” from the international organization, the Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA), included awards in the categories of Publications, Technology (for this blog!), and Public Interest.
Dawn McKnight, Assistant Executive Director of CBA-CLE says, “Our staff does an incredible job and we could not have won the awards without the help of the hundreds of attorneys and legal professionals in Colorado who contribute their time and resources to the projects. There are too many people to name that volunteer countless hours for us, but we are extremely grateful and lucky to work with such talented and dedicated people. It’s very rewarding to be recognized by this international organization for the work we do and especially to win three in one year! We’ll continue to work hard to achieve our ‘goals’ of providing quality legal education programs and publications for our legal community.”
2011 ACLEA AWARDS
- Public Service Category: Senior Law Day Project
- Senior Law Day is an annual event for the public, held in several different locations each year around the state and offers workshops taught by attorneys and other professionals on critical topics to seniors including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Estate Planning and many other issues.
- Publications Category: Residential Construction Law in Colorado, Third Edition
- Written by noted attorneys Ronald M. Sandgrund, Scott F. Sullan, and Leslie A. Tuft, this timely and well-written book reviews critical issues with homeowners’ legal rights and remedies arising from the design, construction, marketing, and sale of single-family homes and multi-family communities.
- Technology Category: CBA-CLE Legal Connection Blog – www.cbaclelegalconnection.com
- A free resource for the Colorado legal community to get the latest Colorado legal news easier and faster from one centralized, searchable resource.
DEFINITION OF A HAT TRICK: Three goals scored by one player in a single game.
ABOUT ACLEA: Established in 1964, ACLEA is an international association providing educational opportunities and professional interaction for its members. The organization includes members in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Mexico. Administrators, trainers, managers, educators, publishers, programmers and meeting professionals are all members of ACLEA.
ABOUT CBA-CLE: Colorado Bar Association CLE [CBA-CLE] is the nonprofit education arm of the Colorado Bar Association and the Denver Bar Association. We produce high-quality continuing legal education programs and legal publications for attorneys and legal professionals in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region.
On Friday, September 23, 2011, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and two unpublished opinions.
No case summaries are available for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.