As we get ready to say goodbye to 2012 and ring in the New Year, many of us will make a list of Resolutions for 2013. Some will be elaborate while others may be less complex but equally challenging. I can only imagine the possibilities. From losing weight to working harder, or maybe not working as hard, to – you name it. The list is only constrained by imagination.
Unfortunately, most of those lists won’t last long.
I have a better idea. My resolution is simply to use good judgment. Hopefully, it’s not something that we wait until after Auld Lang Syne to get started. It should be something we’ve worked on all year. But we can reflect on it today. We can simplify our lives today. Just use good judgment.
If I need to lose weight, all I need to do is use good judgment with my diet and maybe exercise. If I want to work harder (or smarter), then that’s what I will do. No task is too complicated if we plan it out. If my schedule is full, then I need to simplify it. Maybe I shouldn’t take on that new potential client. If my case work is “caught up,” maybe I should use that extra time to hone my trial skills – or spend it with my family. The list goes on and on and yet it is as simple as anything has ever been.
Today I will use good judgment. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
The best way to have success at trial is to be prepared. We all know that. But what do we do about the unexpected things that happen during the trial? The typical response to that question is that if we have thoroughly prepared, then we are up for any contingency. That’s an easy thing to say and hard thing to do. But we do it and that’s one of the many things that make trial practice a difficult life.
Many crazy things happen during a trial. That is a given. From running out of strikes during jury selection to the judge charging the jury with the wrong law, the list of possibilities is endless. You can fix some of these problems during the trial. Some, you can fix on appeal (but that doesn’t help your client today). Others, can’t be fixed and you have to deal with them. Sometimes it’s as if the whole procedure is possessed. How we deal with problems during the trial is what separates good trial lawyers from great ones.
I saw a baseball game the other night. The home team was losing. They could not get a hit. During the seventh inning stretch, a couple of the older players took all the bats and threw them out of the dugout. What a sight. All these bats being tossed out on the field. I don’t think anyone realized what was happening or knew what to do. The batboy didn’t know what to think but he knew what to do. He dutifully picked up the bats and returned each one to the dugout. The players each received their bat and the team went on to not only hit, but score eight runs and win the ballgame.
We can’t throw witnesses or the judge out the courthouse window, but we can figure out a way to overcome the hard times during a trial. Like the young ball players with the “new” bats, we have to figure out how to exorcise our demons. The solution is as unique as the lawyer trying the case.