Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rule #12: "When the verdict's in, pack up your gear and go home"

You can be the best criminal defense attorney in the world . . . work harder than anyone else . . . out-prepare your opponent . . . show up to court every day ready to do battle. Unfortunately, although a recipe for success this work does not guarantee success. Often you're going home not getting the results you'd hoped for. 

After my closing statement is complete and I've listened closely for objectionable statements in the prosecutor's final argument, the case is finally submitted to the jury. The pressure is off. I've done my job. The case is now in the hands of another. However, the moment a verdict comes back worse than expected (or hoped for) you feel all your energy for the last weeks and months might have been a waste - you wonder where you went wrong . . . maybe kicking yourself for not doing things differently. But this is not the end. This is an unavoidable moment in life for every criminal trial lawyer. This is the time to pack up your gear, go home, and not look back.

Despite the great effort invested into our case preparation, often the results are simply unsatisfying. We are warriors and warriors like to win. Maybe we thought the client had a good chance for an acquittal. Maybe we thought we should have beaten the plea bargain. These instances eventually become the moments we reflect on - the moments we make decisions to change for the better. But only after we've put the case behind us and we are looking forward.

The best lawyers on the planet lose cases.  It's inevitable and, maybe, even desirable at times. Investing everything you have into a case and then losing has a humbling affect. Importantly, humble lawyers win cases. Humble lawyers maintain credibility. And we already know credibility is the key to everything. But humility only comes after reflection. And reflection only comes after we pack up our gear and go home. 

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