Oral Arguments

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Anonymous User
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Oral Arguments

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:26 pm

How much of litigation practice would require a significant amount of public speaking? And what sort of public speaking? And how far along in your career would you confront these parts of the work?

I scored well in legal writing, and I did very well in Civ Pro and Con Law, which I've heard tend to indicate potential success in litigation. But I'm an introvert. There's nothing I can do about that. I just don't see myself doing really well arguing before a court or cross-examining a witness. I'd be much better writing briefs, eg. I've done well in law school (top 15% at at top 10 school), which I mention only to indicate that I think I could handle it intellectually. I'm just worried about handling it temperamentally.

Having said all that, I think litigation appeals to me more than transactional work. I like reading cases and coming up with arguments more than I like reading contracts/drafting them.

Anonymous User
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Re: Oral Arguments

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 07, 2012 10:44 pm

Oh man, I thought this was going to be about the nightly fight with my girlfriend...

But seriously: You can safely work as a litigator for several years without needing to do any "public speaking." Not all litigators are trial lawyers -- quite a few partners never first chaired anything and in a big room, there's plenty of room to simply be a brief-writer at my firm. You'll never make it rain though, and if you accept the limitation that you could end up topping out at "of counsel," you'll be fine.

And you may even end up learning from the trial lawyers around you and end up good at it. There's plenty of time to learn little by little.

Anonymous User
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Re: Oral Arguments

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:37 pm

ok so making it rain has little to do with trial ability or experience.

making it rain is more about golfing, drinking, and getting people to like you and think you're a real swell guy.

if making it rain was "skill-related," then a whole bunch of uber nerdos would make it pour.

Yes, skill helps, but rainmakers are usually bros.

I think you're mistaking the correlation between good trial lawyers and rainmakers for a causation.

hiima3L
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Re: Oral Arguments

Postby hiima3L » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:50 am

Anonymous User wrote:But I'm an introvert. There's nothing I can do about that. I just don't see myself doing really well arguing before a court or cross-examining a witness.


Yes, there is something you can do: you can practice.

I'm like you, naturally introverted and hate public speaking and attention, but I grew to love oral arguments. The only way you can do this is practice, suffer through the awkwardness, humiliation, etc., and learn how to improve. The better you get, the more you'll like it.

You could always pursue appellate work. You win 99% of the time on the brief so oral arguments are pretty much irrelevant.

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eandy
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Re: Oral Arguments

Postby eandy » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:19 am

Just don't do criminal law. That's all public speaking.

tmgarvey
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Re: Oral Arguments

Postby tmgarvey » Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:43 am

hiima3L wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:But I'm an introvert. There's nothing I can do about that. I just don't see myself doing really well arguing before a court or cross-examining a witness.


Yes, there is something you can do: you can practice.

I'm like you, naturally introverted and hate public speaking and attention, but I grew to love oral arguments. The only way you can do this is practice, suffer through the awkwardness, humiliation, etc., and learn how to improve. The better you get, the more you'll like it.

You could always pursue appellate work. You win 99% of the time on the brief so oral arguments are pretty much irrelevant.
I agree with this. You don't have to be an extrovert to learn to be comfortable (or at least more comfortable) speaking in front of an audience.

One way to get some practice in a non-threatening setting is to join Toastmasters. It's a club focused on speaking--you get a chance to practice extemporaneous speeches (e.g., drawing a random topic out of a hat and taking five minutes to give a three-minute speech) or prepared speeches. Other people in the group critique and give suggestions and encouragement. There are competitions between groups.

One other thing--when you are actually arguing in court, if you are focused on listening to the questions and giving helpful answers to the court, you will learn to forget that you are "speaking".

There are many areas of legal practice that require less emphasis on presentations, but you could always be called upon to do it in a particular context. It's a skill worth cultivating, even if you seldom have to do it.

Incidentally, appellate work (especially if that is mostly what you do) often requires oral argument. In some courts, it is routinely granted if either side requests it.

Anonymous User
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Re: Oral Arguments

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:03 pm

tmgarvey wrote:
hiima3L wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:But I'm an introvert. There's nothing I can do about that. I just don't see myself doing really well arguing before a court or cross-examining a witness.


Yes, there is something you can do: you can practice.

I'm like you, naturally introverted and hate public speaking and attention, but I grew to love oral arguments. The only way you can do this is practice, suffer through the awkwardness, humiliation, etc., and learn how to improve. The better you get, the more you'll like it.

You could always pursue appellate work. You win 99% of the time on the brief so oral arguments are pretty much irrelevant.
I agree with this. You don't have to be an extrovert to learn to be comfortable (or at least more comfortable) speaking in front of an audience.

One way to get some practice in a non-threatening setting is to join Toastmasters. It's a club focused on speaking--you get a chance to practice extemporaneous speeches (e.g., drawing a random topic out of a hat and taking five minutes to give a three-minute speech) or prepared speeches. Other people in the group critique and give suggestions and encouragement. There are competitions between groups.

One other thing--when you are actually arguing in court, if you are focused on listening to the questions and giving helpful answers to the court, you will learn to forget that you are "speaking".

There are many areas of legal practice that require less emphasis on presentations, but you could always be called upon to do it in a particular context. It's a skill worth cultivating, even if you seldom have to do it.

Incidentally, appellate work (especially if that is mostly what you do) often requires oral argument. In some courts, it is routinely granted if either side requests it.


Agree with all of this, but I would say try to get your practice in the most threatening forum possible. Do stuff that absolutely terrifies you, with high stakes attached. You may fail spectacularly, but you might also succeed wildly. Either way, everything else after that will start to seem a lot easier. That said, a lot of the best trial lawyers still get very nervous before big jury trials, so don't expect that the nerves will ever fully go away. A bit of adrenaline is good for your performance.

Take Trial Ad and Appellate Advocacy next year and see how you like it.




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