Friday, February 22, 2013


Years ago, skipping school, I spent hours one rainy week watching a broken former State Senator defend a murder case. Rumor was he'd stolen money. People said he'd become a drunk. 
The Defense Lawyer from to kill a Mockingbird is remembered as being one of the great trial lawyer even though he lost the case.
Yet I'll never forget that majestic old Florida courtroom of wood, marble and high ceilings and the people who worked there. 
There was the deep voiced stern but fair Judge, the somber Prosecutor dressed for a funeral pecking away at evidence like a crow and that Southern Defense lawyer, all charm, smiles and sunshine in his white seersucker suit. Who would win?

It rained all week until the defense lawyer rose to give his final argument, when as if by the magic of his will the rain stumbled to a stop as sunlight filtered into the courtroom sheltering his client from a guilty verdict.

Even today your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney occasionally, often unexpectedly, finds a lawyer rise to the occasion teaching every other lawyer watching how to be an excellent advocate.

At least one legal publication notes that the best lawyers are excellent story tellers. Here's an excerpt from the American Bar Association Journal :

"A great story is like a well-crafted joke—deliciously brief, immediately memorable, eminently repeatable and virtually impossible to dismiss." —Kenneth Albers, actor and director
Lawyers who want to become effective communicators must understand that stories are at the heart of how people think, learn, exchange ideas and struggle to understand the world around them.
Good stories are not just snapshots of isolated events. Stories deal with the interrelationships that show how people think and how the world works. Stories are at the very heart of what the law is all about.

Besides the ability to present great stories, here some characteristics of the best trial attorneys, who battle for their criminal clients in Courtrooms across America and Tampa Bay, Florida.

  • Belief. The Best lawyers can make excellent arguments because they believe in them.
  • Confidence. Every courtroom battle includes setbacks. Great lawyers keep cool and confident no matter how many times they're slapped down.
  • Commitment. Being fully committed to the goal of finding the best possible solution for the client.
  • Compassion. Having empathy with the client, but also with everyone involved including law enforcement officers, the witnesses, the court reporter, the bailiffs, the Judge and the Prosecutor.
  • Experience. Knowing what to do when comes by having dealt with many problems in the past with success.
  • Enthusiasm. It's catching. It's not enough to just believe in finding the best results it's important to sweep others into believing and that comes with enthusiasm. 
Good advocates at trial also have a knack for knowing what the Judge and Jury is thinking. Maybe that's because they have Judge Posner's book How Judge's Think tucked inside their briefcases. 
And it doesn't hurt toward the end of a hard fought criminal jury trial for a Tampa Bay criminal lawyer to spin a little magic by turning the rain into sunshine.

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