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I am the Litigator June 26, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer.
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I have three court cases this week. One in Lapu-lapu City, the rest in Capitol. That’s five sleepless nights, researching on the facts, talking to witnesses, and preparing them to be presented for trial. Now I know why litigation is the cruscible of fire for all lawyers and why litigators are patronizing towards purely corporate lawyers (and just a tinge jealous). Litigation is damn hard work. Unlike corporate practice, litigation requires your full attention and one’s inordinate amount of patience. In the courtroom, it also requires a strong ego and a never-say-die attitude.

I’m not saying corporate law is a cakewalk because a lot of what I do involves corporate practice and it’s not as easy as it sounds, but still, the level of stress and aggravation from corporate practice does not even come close to what I face everyday in the court room.

I’ve had about one year’s experience as a litigator under my belt now, and based on this, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

1. As much as possible, stick to the truth. When faced against a sharp and experienced litigator, a witness’ lies will soon come crashing down on him like a stack of cards. If a certain part of a witness’ testimony is damaging, then conveniently omit such fact. Let the other counsel worry about ferreting that information out. And if he finds that out? Stick to the truth. It’s better to take a little damage than to be exposed as a liar. Remember, when it comes to testimony, the first thing a judge would do is assess your integrity as a witness. If you come out looking like a liar, everything you say will become circumspect, even when you really are telling the truth. (But I didn’t learn this principle from being a lawyer. I got this one from having a mom who knows better.)

2. A calm, rational examination is better than fiery, verbose monologues. Contrary to what a lot of clients think, it’s actually quite damaging to your case if your counsel likes to grandstand in court. Judges can see through our BS and will look down on lawyers who prattle on and on without any semblance of logic. The objective is to appear intelligent, not obnoxious. Some lawyers can’t tell the difference.

3. Keep it simple, stupid! This is the infamous K.I.S.S. principle, applicable to pleadings filed in court. Judges and their legal researchers have no time to read through inane discussions, so if you make their job easier for them by sticking to the facts and presenting your pleading in a way that makes it a pleasure to read, not a pain, then you’ve already won one-half of the battle.

4. Protect your client. If you know that you have a losing case, be frank about it with the client. Don’t try to squelch his time and money by promising him that you could win a case that has an ice cream cone’s chance in hell of not melting. It’s an old cliche but it’s a truth nonetheless, a lawyer’s value can only be gauged by his integrity and good name. If you’re known for taking your clients’ money and running away with it, believe me, sooner or later, that reputation is going to bite you in the ass. It’s better that you tell the client what his honest chances are, and have him decide for himself if he wants to continue or not.

Well… that’s one year as a litigator over and done with and so many years more left to come. Well, if there’s one thing I can honestly say, it’s that I worked hard for the money, so you better treat me right! 8)

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Comments»

1. thecapricornbeartakeshi - June 27, 2007

It amazes me that you still have time to write and post a blog, considering that the nature of your job requires a lot of time for researching and preparing things for court appearances. Way to go Monsieur Avocat. Good luck on your cases.

2. northwolf - June 27, 2007

It’s simple really, you just take out all the unnecessary things which take up all your time.

Like sleep. And sex. And exercise. 8)

Merci beaucoup, monsieur chimiste. And good luck in your journeys. đŸ™‚


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