Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Dealing with "better" opposing counsel

Morning, How do you deal with opposing counsel who are mo joydboyd12/28/17
Follow your instincts, do what you think is right and ask ot lilgub12/28/17
Just be more prepared than the other guy. I don't care who t mnjd12/28/17
This. I've been out of law school 4 years, generally go agai bucwild12/28/17
It's just a learning process OP. Take your lumps and move on isthisit12/28/17
"No one expects you to be Perry Mason." Client does. superttthero12/28/17
Need to manage client expectations early. isthisit12/28/17
Learn from your client. Put yourself in your client’s shoe physicssezno12/28/17
The skill gap is unlikely to be as large as you actually bel thirdtierlaw12/28/17
Thanks, y'all. I'll let you know how it goes. joydboyd12/28/17
I handled a big criminal case after my admission without any lawlaw212/29/17
I go against more experienced lawyers all the time. Try not orange912/30/17
joydboyd (Dec 28, 2017 - 10:52 am)

Morning,

How do you deal with opposing counsel who are more experienced and, for lack of a better word, better than you? I have no litigation experience, and I am going up against a smallish firm which tries cases all the time. This is a contract case, and the firm's specialty is PI.

Any thoughts on how you dealt with these situations enough to gain self confidence?

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lilgub (Dec 28, 2017 - 10:57 am)

Follow your instincts, do what you think is right and ask other attorneys for help/questions when needed. Don't be afraid to make mistakes - you won't be the first or last.

You'd be surprised how many attorneys are more bark than bite.

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mnjd (Dec 28, 2017 - 11:33 am)

Just be more prepared than the other guy. I don't care who the other attorney is on the other side as long as I feel prepared.

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bucwild (Dec 28, 2017 - 2:43 pm)

This. I've been out of law school 4 years, generally go against attorneys at biglaw who are significantly more experienced than me. My only hope is to outwork them.

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isthisit (Dec 28, 2017 - 11:34 am)

It's just a learning process OP. Take your lumps and move on. No one expects you to be Perry Mason.

If you can chat with am experienced litigator and watch court, you'll get a better sense for what to do.

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superttthero (Dec 28, 2017 - 12:36 pm)

"No one expects you to be Perry Mason."

Client does.

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isthisit (Dec 28, 2017 - 2:09 pm)

Need to manage client expectations early.

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physicssezno (Dec 28, 2017 - 12:24 pm)

Learn from your client. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and consider what they want. What their goals are in the case. That will give you a bit of a guide as to what positions to take, assuming you are also competent in the law and facts. As far as procedure goes, get a respected treatise from your jurisdiction and ask colleagues if you feel yourself in a jam. Do your best, stay humble, and make the strongest case you can while finding a way to turn around weaknesses.

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thirdtierlaw (Dec 28, 2017 - 1:05 pm)

The skill gap is unlikely to be as large as you actually believe it to be. As other people say, be better prepared. Know your case inside and out. Read and re-read the caselaw (whether or not your bill for the extra time is up to you). Know exactly how you're going to get each and every piece of evidence admitted. Think through and write out what objections they may try to make to your evidence, including pieces of evidence you are nearly 100% sure will be admissible.

Essentially take the case completely out of their hands. If you have a way to get everything you need to get in front of the judge, you're 90% there. Once you have it all nailed down, you can then just spend the hearing focused on what they are saying/arguing, then try to make appropriate objections.

As stated above, you'll make mistakes. The experienced attorney will also make mistakes. There is no such thing as a perfect trial, hearing, whatever.

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joydboyd (Dec 28, 2017 - 1:35 pm)

Thanks, y'all. I'll let you know how it goes.

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lawlaw2 (Dec 29, 2017 - 10:55 am)

I handled a big criminal case after my admission without any help from the senior partners. They just let me do it even if the oppossing counsel is an experienced, brilliant and well known litigator. I perspired a lot during my first day in court going against the opposing counsel who, every time i asked a question from the witness to elicit a fact, objected a lot and fhe court sustaining every objections. I just stood helpless that day.
The next trial, i prepared my arguments and all the questions, and to my surprise everything went smoothly. I defended my line of questioning and countered every arguments from the opposing counsel. To my surprise, that day ended my a big smile on my face after impressing my client. I guess, the technique is "prepare ahead before you go against an experienced lawyer".If you know your case, you have nothing to worry about. Be confident whenever you step into that court room.good luck!

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orange9 (Dec 30, 2017 - 3:14 pm)

I go against more experienced lawyers all the time. Try not to let them bully you, most will not try though. I have one recently who sent me a nasty email asking telling me to withdraw a motion, I didn't even respond and am waiting for him to oppose my motion so I can slam him.

Most of the experienced guys I find to be extremely cordial and helpful to be honest. They have all been the young guy, so they usually like to talk to someone who will listen and they appreciate a younger hard-working lawyer. I've had these older guys tell me about their motorcycles, their favorite restaurants, the amount of trick or treaters they get, etc. Also remember, some of these guys are always on the look out for younger hard-working attorneys with talent and experience to lateral to their firms. A lot of the younger people they have in their firms are bookworms from law school who may not have the necessary personality to be in a courtroom.

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