Young Lawyer Supplement

The Development of Trial Skills for Young Lawyers

, The Legal Intelligencer


Congratulations, you have just been given your first courtroom assignment. It is finally time to pull your head from your research assignments, get unlocked from the chain attached to your desk and venture out into an actual courtroom. You might find that your excitement is quickly tempered, however, by two words that make your pulse race: Now what? This article will provide some helpful tips on preparation and advocacy skills, directed to the younger lawyer but useful to lawyers of all ages, that can help you look and feel like an experienced litigator. Many of the skills discussed will be useful for handling your first deposition or oral argument as well, but trial skills will be the focus.

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    Jonathan Acklen's article is an excellent primer for anyone pursuing a career as a trial lawyer. Some additional ways to gain practical experience in law school and later as a young practioner are:

    1) Join a mock trial team in law school. These teams typically compete at least 2-4 times per year in regional competitions.

    2) Participate in Moot Court which will sharpen not just appellate argument skills but also opening and closing skills.

    3) Intern in either a District Attorney's Office or Public Defender's Office in a large city such as Philadelphia. This will expose you to high volume case preparation where you will have at least a second chair perspective and possibly get to handle certain limited cases on a supervised basis.

    4) Once in practice,take court-appointed cases including criminal and domestic violence matters even if you do not intend to practice in the criminal arena. The best cross-examiners will usually have had criminal trial experience in their backgrounds.

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