April 23, 2019 Substantive Law

Going from Trial Lawyer to Trial Judge

Hon. Dean Hansell

Reprinted with permission from Litigation, Winter 2019 (45:2) at 6-7. ©2019 by the American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

Making the transition from trial lawyer to trial judge has been a great journey. The job satisfaction rate among judges is high. Few of us ever will return to private practice, even those who enjoyed being there.

So today I sit in a different seat in the courtroom and see everything from a new perspective. While most of my early insights about judging are not truly new, I wish I had known them better and understood them more fully when I was an advocate. And for those insights that I did know then, I really wish I had learned them sooner and paid more attention to them. It might have made a world of difference.

As I see it, there are few if any judicial secrets. None of these points is a surprise. Rather, they all are common sense and well known, yet each is ignored more often than heeded.

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