relevance of courtroom skills

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Anonymous User
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relevance of courtroom skills

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:33 pm

A partner in my law firm basically scoffed at folks taking "trial advocacy" in law school. He said a much better class was "negotiations" or "mediation" or something similar.

His theory is that trial is so exceedingly rare in big civil cases that it doesn't make much sense spending a lot of time worrying about that. He also thought "first chairing" a trial is not really a sensible, logical goal because that is not the trajectory of a civil litigator. He basically said that because everything is in "writing" - nothing involving oral advocacy makes much difference for a litigator. And that with the evolution of ADR, trials will basically be a relic outside of the personal injury context.


Thoughts?

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Borhas
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby Borhas » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A partner in my law firm basically scoffed at folks taking "trial advocacy" in law school. He said a much better class was "negotiations" or "mediation" or something similar.

His theory is that trial is so exceedingly rare in big civil cases that it doesn't make much sense spending a lot of time worrying about that. He also thought "first chairing" a trial is not really a sensible, logical goal because that is not the trajectory of a civil litigator. He basically said that because everything is in "writing" - nothing involving oral advocacy makes much difference for a litigator. And that with the evolution of ADR, trials will basically be a relic outside of the personal injury context.


Thoughts?


he's probably right for the most part, but most classes are useless...

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Wholigan
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby Wholigan » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:A partner in my law firm basically scoffed at folks taking "trial advocacy" in law school. He said a much better class was "negotiations" or "mediation" or something similar.

His theory is that trial is so exceedingly rare in big civil cases that it doesn't make much sense spending a lot of time worrying about that. He also thought "first chairing" a trial is not really a sensible, logical goal because that is not the trajectory of a civil litigator. He basically said that because everything is in "writing" - nothing involving oral advocacy makes much difference for a litigator. And that with the evolution of ADR, trials will basically be a relic outside of the personal injury context.


Thoughts?


Probably true if you have no intention to go into criminal law or personal injury law. But if you're going to the trouble of doing law school, don't you want to be able to shout at the TV during Law & Order and tell them when to object??

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nealric
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby nealric » Sun Mar 18, 2012 10:03 am

Wholigan wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A partner in my law firm basically scoffed at folks taking "trial advocacy" in law school. He said a much better class was "negotiations" or "mediation" or something similar.

His theory is that trial is so exceedingly rare in big civil cases that it doesn't make much sense spending a lot of time worrying about that. He also thought "first chairing" a trial is not really a sensible, logical goal because that is not the trajectory of a civil litigator. He basically said that because everything is in "writing" - nothing involving oral advocacy makes much difference for a litigator. And that with the evolution of ADR, trials will basically be a relic outside of the personal injury context.


Thoughts?


Probably true if you have no intention to go into criminal law or personal injury law. But if you're going to the trouble of doing law school, don't you want to be able to shout at the TV during Law & Order and tell them when to object??


You can do that after you take evidence.

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Wholigan
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby Wholigan » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:55 pm

nealric wrote:
Wholigan wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:A partner in my law firm basically scoffed at folks taking "trial advocacy" in law school. He said a much better class was "negotiations" or "mediation" or something similar.

His theory is that trial is so exceedingly rare in big civil cases that it doesn't make much sense spending a lot of time worrying about that. He also thought "first chairing" a trial is not really a sensible, logical goal because that is not the trajectory of a civil litigator. He basically said that because everything is in "writing" - nothing involving oral advocacy makes much difference for a litigator. And that with the evolution of ADR, trials will basically be a relic outside of the personal injury context.


Thoughts?


Probably true if you have no intention to go into criminal law or personal injury law. But if you're going to the trouble of doing law school, don't you want to be able to shout at the TV during Law & Order and tell them when to object??


You can do that after you take evidence.


Eh... I took both and I really only felt like I knew how a trial worked after trial ad. Evidence doesn't teach you about leading the witness, what you can and can't do on cross, courtroom demeanor, etc. It seemed to me like evidence was more appellate-focused.

Renzo
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby Renzo » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A partner in my law firm basically scoffed at folks taking "trial advocacy" in law school. He said a much better class was "negotiations" or "mediation" or something similar.

His theory is that trial is so exceedingly rare in big civil cases that it doesn't make much sense spending a lot of time worrying about that. He also thought "first chairing" a trial is not really a sensible, logical goal because that is not the trajectory of a civil litigator. He basically said that because everything is in "writing" - nothing involving oral advocacy makes much difference for a litigator. And that with the evolution of ADR, trials will basically be a relic outside of the personal injury context.


Thoughts?


All true, except that trials are the exception as opposed to the rule even in criminal law and personal injury.
Last edited by Renzo on Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

seatown12
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby seatown12 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 2:21 am

Mediation might be marginally better across the board (trial ad is better for crim regardless of how many clients plead out) but on the spectrum of useless law school classes trial ad is far from the top.

This partner is probably just frustrated that some dude with a bus stop ad has a more exciting practice than he does. If you are looking to succeed in a big firm don't worry about any "practical skills" other than pushing paper and kissing ass.

RobotGardener
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby RobotGardener » Sat Mar 24, 2012 3:33 am

Not true for anyone involved in criminal law.

Additionally, speaking during arbitration uses many of the same oral advocacy skills as trial advocacy.

keg411
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby keg411 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:52 am

If you want to be a litigator, no reason not to take Trial Ad (or it's equivalent) and ADR, and any other lit-related practical class your school offers. No reason to limit it to one or the other. I plan to take both Litigation Strategy (which has some trial elements) and ADR next year.

Though I'd think if you were going to biglaw, ADR is probably more relevant since you can use it on the transactional side as well, and unless you've already had a 2L SA, you probably don't know what you'll be doing yet. (My biggest "worry" is signing up for lit strategy and somehow ending up in a transactional practice :lol:).

bdubs
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby bdubs » Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:10 pm

This is probably true for 99% of folks, but there are a handful of firms out there that really specialize in trial litigation. Most civil litigators wind up handing their case over to a trial specialist (either internal or external) when it comes time to go into the courtroom. The trial litigator then hands the case off to an appellate specialist when it is inevitably appealed by whoever lost.

Unless you have a legitimate shot at becoming one of these specialists, it's probably a waste of time.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:46 pm

Negotiation was an excellent class, incidentally, and should be a required class everywhere, because ultimately YOU WILL NEGOTIATE AS A LAWYER. I mean, as a new lawyer, the first time you have to speak with opposing counsel regarding settlement - which is the most common resolution of a case - it helps to have some actual negotiation skills beyond those learned haggling with gypsies.

I agree that the perception of "trial advocacy" course work suggests someone intending to go into plaintiff's personal injury, a big-law / mid-law turnoff. I went to Michigan State, and they have the Jeffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute. I'm sure you learn a ton about actual trial, but Fieger is a notoroious plaintiff's attorney in the state, which tells you a little about the focus of that program.

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spleenworship
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Re: relevance of courtroom skills

Postby spleenworship » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:A partner in my law firm basically scoffed at folks taking "trial advocacy" in law school. He said a much better class was "negotiations" or "mediation" or something similar.

His theory is that trial is so exceedingly rare in big civil cases that it doesn't make much sense spending a lot of time worrying about that. He also thought "first chairing" a trial is not really a sensible, logical goal because that is not the trajectory of a civil litigator. He basically said that because everything is in "writing" - nothing involving oral advocacy makes much difference for a litigator. And that with the evolution of ADR, trials will basically be a relic outside of the personal injury context.


Thoughts?


Had a judge tell me that you needed to focus on trial work, even if you spent your entire career drafting contracts... because whether or not you ever end up in a courtroom you have to spend your time as a lawyer knowing what is likely to happen in court. Even though most things won't end up in court, that is the final place of dispute. Just because nuclear all out war is very, very unlikely, the Army has to at least keep it in mind just in case, you know?




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