Act as would the lawyer you want to become. That directive reminds me of my first contested hearing. I had no guidance, or clue as to what I was doing at the time, but I tried to emulate the attorneys that put hearings on before me. As I became more familiar with the courtroom, I realized everyone has a style and a way of presenting their case. What did I want my style to look like?
Fortunately for me, I was blessed with incredible mentor lawyers who were well accustomed to high stakes litigation, and I was quick to observe and try to emulate them when I had the opportunity. Emulating the best trial attorneys seemed to be the best way for me to become the trial attorney I hoped to be.
Mentor lawyers were instrumental in my earliest years in practice to give me the confidence I otherwise may not have had, as well as the support to know there’s no one way to do things and that I had to find my way. The best lesson they taught was that if you are doing all you can to represent your client’s interest, you’re going to be OK at this lawyering gig.
Effective advocacy is evident in the heat of a hearing, but its probably most tested when you have to appeal a decision by a judge who was one of those mentors, or when you’re pitted against one in a case. It may be difficult to stomach at the time, but nothing earns respect as an attorney like putting a marker down that you’re willing to go to bad for your client, even if it means taking an opposing position against a mentor lawyer or judge. A mentor lawyer will want nothing less than your best if you come up against them; and if you’ve been emulating them, you’ll be prepared.
Are you the lawyer you want to become? Why not act as so? You’ll eventually become the person you emulate, therefore never stop emulating the best attorney in the room; and if you reach a point where you don’t have a better lawyer to emulate…RETIRE!