Whether you are taking your first steps in the practice of law or if you are a seasoned veteran, here are 20 practical tips for practicing law successfully. An excellent way to reinforce ideas or get rid of the vices of habitual practice Law tutoring. Written by Judge José Ramón Chaves:
I have been asked for some practical advice for someone who wants to practice law. Without being dogmatic, and in case they are useful for novices, I would give the following advice in terms of forensic psychology. And if anyone wants to add a few more, then welcome.
- NO WAITING AROUND FOR THE CLIENT TO ARRIVE.
In a competitive world , specialization and Darwinian selection justify studying and staying up to date. You have to specialize and discipline yourself to know the current law and the latest jurisprudence. Preparing the specific case is very good, but it is better to forge a foundation of general knowledge that provides that valuable tool that is legal intuition.
There is a crisis but it is not a good idea to float in the shipwreck in the middle of the ocean counting the hours. The well-known fable of flies comes to mind:
“Once upon a time two flies landed on the milk in a cauldron. One of them, the strongest, understood that her legs were sinking in the liquid and she could not get out of it and she abandoned herself to her bad luck. The other, more tenacious, decided to move her wings and legs quickly until a layer of cream formed that allowed her a solid point of support from which by moving her wings she was able to fly away.
- LOYALTY WITH THE CLIENT.
The lawyer is not a carrion vulture before the client but an imperial eagle that will fight for the chicks. You have to tell the truth to the client and know how to say it : once red is better than a hundred red. Furthermore, if they are written well, he is sending a copy to the client. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t understand forensic jargon, because what he will understand is that his lawyer is working on his case.
We must also stop the client’s voracity and ask for what is reasonable . That of asking for a lot so that they give you less, or of building demand with “sound and fury” must be left for the cinematic demonstrations of power of King-kong, beating his chest.
- KNOW HOW TO LISTEN TO THE CLIENT BEFORE SPEAKING.
When receiving the client at point-blank range, one must keep in mind the advice given by John Wayne for young actors: “Speak softly, speak slowly and don’t say too much.”
- NEVER TELL THE CLIENT THAT THE LAWSUIT HAS BEEN WON OR THAT THE SENTENCE WILL BE HANDED DOWN ON APPROXIMATE DATES.
They are variables that are difficult to control and any failed forecast reduces the prophet’s credibility. Good news comes when it arrives.
- COURAGE WHEN FACING A LAWSUIT.
It’s all in the books. Everything can be studied and defended, but yes, with effort and even in Churchill’s expression, with “blood, sweat and tears.” Cutting and pasting is fine, but it is better to read and study the case. New angles and perspectives are always discovered.
Of course, don’t be scared by your opponent : David defeats Goliath more than we think .
And if it is an appeal, do not repeat the claim: you must take the time to justify the appeal in succinct, clear and truly critical terms.
- MAINTAIN COHERENCE BETWEEN PROCEDURAL WRITINGS.
In contentious-administrative matters, careful comparison work is required between administrative request, claim or appeal, demand and written conclusions, to avoid the conviction of “procedural deviation.”
- NOT EVERYTHING IS “FISHING” FOR JURISPRUDENCE IN LIFE.
Many lawyers dedicate themselves to diving until they find the case as similar as possible to the one presented and then using it as a pillar of argument. Sometimes there is no applicable jurisprudence or if there is, it is outdated or in the process of being questioned.
More important than the cited sentence is the argument that explains it and extracts its fruit . Furthermore, if you are looking for jurisprudence you have to fish in all waters: in minor jurisprudence, in constitutional jurisprudence, in opinions or even in jurisprudence of other jurisdictional orders since sometimes there are common solutions for different disciplines.
- TRAIN IN TRANSVERSAL DISCIPLINES.
Law is a universe and it is enough to know some of the corners and twists and turns. A great and very forgotten discipline is Procedural Law and it is tremendously useful .
The best heart surgeon in the world will fail if he does not know how to read a clinical history, how to sterilize, who should accompany him in his operation, the execution times, if he does not know the effects of anesthesia or the patient care protocol. An incident, procedure or procedural trick can win a “lost” lawsuit or lose a “won” lawsuit.
- DEMANDS, RESPONSES OR APPEALS MUST BE BRIEF.
Size doesn’t matter here. They are not doctoral theses nor should they emulate Proust: judges are not up to cupcakes.
- WHEN ALLEGATIONS ARE WRITTEN OR WHEN A VERBAL ARGUMENT IS PRESENTED, IT MUST BE STRUCTURED, ORGANIZED AND LABELED.
Puzzles, hopscotch and mess are fine for independent cinema but not for real life. If something (an argument and the subsequent thesis) cannot be summarized in a three-line label, it is better not to say it.
- NO MORE “HOT” WRITING.
A brief of allegations is not a pizza but a delicatessen and for that you have to take time and, if possible, sleep on it . It is incredible how the perspective and impression of the same writing changes when it is reread by its author twenty-four hours later. It can only get better.
We must consider the possibility that we are wrong and that the approach is incorrect or clearly could be improved. Nothing better than comparing the matter with a colleague. Distancing enriches.
- TAKE CARE OF SYNTAX AND LEXICON.
Precision and short sentences. A poorly written message, with typos, errors or indigestible is counterproductive. It is true that the sentences are usually an example of leaden literature with echoes of Joyce’s Ulysses, but that does not mean that the lawyer should incur the vice that he criticizes.
- NO BARRAGE OF RULINGS, ENORMOUS AND REPEATED JURISPRUDENTIAL CITATIONS.
Few sentences and cited in extract: only the fruit is interesting. A lawsuit is won like a steer is tied in a rodeo: speed and precision. And of course, try not to base an entire claim on articles of the Constitution. Something more than the ten commandments is needed to demonstrate that one has the merits to go to heaven or not be condemned.
- NEVER DISREGARD THE FACTS.
Contrary to what is believed, the vast majority of lawsuits are controversies over factual premises, the burden of proof and principles of usefulness and relevance must be kept in mind.
- LITTLE CHANGE.
Latinajos few but well managed. Citations of doctrine and authorities even less so.
- DO NOT ABANDON THE LAWSUIT TO ITS FATE AFTER THE ALLEGATIONS OR CONCLUSIONS.
Between the expiration of the lawsuit and the sentence there is usually a very long period of time in which a sentence may have been issued or a rule favorable to the thesis supported in the lawsuit may have been passed, and it can and should always be provided before the sentence is handed down.
- RESOURCES, PROTESTS AND TANTRUMS, THE RIGHT ONES.
We must fight the procedural battles that can be won and not get involved in minor or collateral issues.
- ELEGANCE AND RESPECT TOWARDS THE JUDGE AND OPPOSING LAWYERS.
Treat opposing counsel as you would like to be treated. The disturbance or the personal attack adds nothing, and it can be a decisive factor in the imposition of costs or a harsh sentence.
- DEMAND PROVISION OF FUNDS AND ADVANCE PAYMENT.
And of course, if we are willing to handle the litigation as if it were our own thing, complying with those rules, we will be in a moral position to demand that the client provide funds or an advance payment. Without complex. If he doesn’t understand it, he won’t be a good customer.