Impressions on Quality of Lawyering: A Student’s Perspective
I recently observed a jury trial in a District Judge's courtroom that taught me a great deal about different lawyering styles and about the many roles a judge has to play during court proceedings. The plaintiff’s attorney seemed overwhelmed and was at times ineffective, while defendants' counsel consisted of a two-lawyer team of very aggressive, almost rude attorneys. The two sides’ styles were in direct opposition, and each had apparent strengths and weaknesses. The Judge did an exemplary job of using her power to try to balance these lawyering styles somewhat, while being fair to both sides and trying to maintain integrity in the courtroom for the jury’s sake. When counsel on both sides kept getting bogged down in their tactics, it seemed like the judge’s job to remind them that a jury was sitting, and that the jury would ultimately decide the outcome of the case. Watching the reactions of the jury to these various strategies was eye-opening for me. Having never served on a jury or seen one operate, I assumed that like me, they would be engaged and excited to be there, with a critical eye toward the proceedings. However in reality, I saw that the jury was fairly tired after several days of trial, and that counsel on both sides failed to keep the jury in mind at critical points, leaving it to the judge to remind them of the jury and try to keep the proceedings on track. I hope not to repeat these lawyers’ mistakes if I ever argue a case before a jury.