Monday, July 30, 2012

New Tech Makes For Better Client Service

I enjoy law office management as much as I enjoy practicing criminal defense law in Bryan|College Station. A smooth running and client-centered office depends on the smart use of  technology, as well as the intelligent use of human resources at our disposal. I have a great and loyal staff already. But it was time to take the office tech to a new level. Those of you who know me understand I love Apple computers. I have five of them. I also own an iPhone and iPad. I give Macs away as gifts. Even my beautiful wife is married to her iPad and uses it as her principle means of accessing the Internet. 

This weekend I finished configuring my brand new iMac. It's a beautiful 21.5 inch model with a hybrid hard drive system consisting of a solid state drive, which is home to my operating system and applications, plus a 1TB spinner for my large data files like photos,  videos, and music. The attached 20 inch Cinema Display gives me abundant desktop real estate from which to work on document preparation, view my daily calendar, and answer my emails. 

Why drive a Volkswagen Beetle when you can have a BMW?  That's why I love my new Mac hardware set up. It's blazing fast. It looks good. I "feel" more productive. In fact, I am more productive. I can blaze through my emails (to the delight of those who wait on me to answer).  I am better organized which gives me more time and energy to respond to client needs. In short, it's just more fun to work at the office and provide good legal services to our clients. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rule #4: "Eat Elephants One Bite At a Time"

Most of us have heard this one. The trouble is we still don't believe it. Sometimes the tasks at hand seem so huge and unsurmountable, we never hunker down and take the first bite.

This is one rule that applies broadly to both criminal defense practice and life in general. Big tasks and hard-to-reach goals often seem hard to accomplish (or even start), but by taking things one small portion at a time anything can be done. Just ask the elephant who got eaten one bite at a time. 

As a criminal defense attorney in College Station my cases often start with mountains of records and evidence to sort through. To look at the table full of binders and think I must read and understand all them before trial is often intimidating. But I've learned over years of experience even the biggest "elephants" can be consumed with perseverance. The trick is to tackle each job step by step and not let the size of the project paralyze my efforts. Patience is the corrollary to Rule #4.

I know no elephant-sized piece of work, obstacle, or goal is too big to be completed, overcome, or accomplished. But this realization comes only by going slow and never biting off more than you can chew. It's important to eat elephants one bite at a time because if you don't, you may never get through the first piece.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Having Finished a Capital Murder Trial

It's been about two weeks since we finished defending a capital murder case here in Bryan/College Station. My talented co-counsel and I prepared for over a year to defend our client who was charged with quite a heinous murder and aggravated assault. Our defense was unique since we had solid evidence our client was mentally retarded and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty under Texas and Federal law. 

The jury did not find in our favor, however. But everyone on the defense team deserved much praise and thanks for a job very well done. We were under tremendous pressure and it seemed unending. Everyday there were a 100 moving parts to manage and control. Documents to review, expert witnesses to prepare, subpoenas to serve, client family to tend to . . . in addition to keeping the law practice above water until I could return. My family paid a price, as well. I left before they got up each morning and arrived home after each was already in bed.  It was a lonely time. 

I watched as some of the best cross-examinations I'd ever seen were executed with precision. Thank you, Lane. I knew I could lean on you when the crap hit the fan. That's why I picked you. The capital murder jury selection process was a battle in-and-of itself, too. Days filled with victory and defeat, both at the same time. Every hour a new battle to fight, another juror to save, another juror to get for cause. 

I don't know if I'll ever do another of these. The experience was unequaled. The stakes were at their highest. But the personal cost equally as great. 

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.