Advice to Young Lawyers from a Judge

I just stumbled across this in doing research on something else.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From Judge Ron Clark (E.D. Tex.):

Speakers at [Continuing Legal Education] seminars, especially judges, invariably tell the attorneys that attacking opposing counsel is counter-productive and is likely to result in juror resentment. The undersigned has tried more than 100 jury trials and in each has gone to the jury room after the verdict, with his law clerk, and asked: "what would you tell this young lawyer to do, or not do, when the clerkship is over and it is time for that first trial?" In almost every case in which a lawyer has criticized or attacked opposing counsel, at least one juror remarks on the need to be polite to opposing counsel and avoid personal attacks.

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  1. Similar situation – I was expert witness in a case where a professional was suing a former client for non payment of the fee and my client was then counter suing for malpractice (who woulda thunk about a countersuit?). I had a previous run in/dispute with that professional. The plaintiffs lawyer immediately jumped in regarding all the bad things I had supposedly done in that dispute. The defense attorney then stipulated “that the plaintiff didnt like me and stipulated that the plaintiff thinks I did all those bad things”. That quickly stopped that line of attack.
    Both the defense attorney & I stayed calm and relaxed and the plaintiff lost big time.

  2. It’s actually advice not from a judge, but from jurors.

    1. In my experience judges often admonish lawyers for being impolite to their adversary, but after that tongue-lashing they give them what they want anyway. Which is why lawyers keep being impolite. Judges reward them.

    2. Isn’t it advice from a judge based on his perception of the aggregate of the advice from jurors?

    3. Perhaps it was to affirm the same advice the judge had already given. It does show that both judges and juries don’t like the behavior.

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