When I was a new lawyer, I often found it difficult to look beyond a discrete assignment. I would (try to) do whatever a senior lawyer had asked me to do and then would go back to wondering how I would develop into the counselor and advocate the more experienced lawyers I saw seemed to be.
For those in a similar position, I offer tips I’ve found useful for relating to judges and clients and also the view that you should treat everyone with whom you work as a judge and a client.
Tips for Communicating Effectively with Judges
State Clearly What You Want
It’s simple advice, but it’s vital. The judge on your case is busy. A federal judge might have four hundred pending cases. A state-court judge might have four thousand. If you do not tell the court exactly what you’re requesting, it is very unlikely to give you what you want. Though there are no guarantees in litigation, clarity in the request dramatically improves your odds. The goal is to be clear enough that the court cannot possibly misunderstand. A side benefit: until you make the request that clearly, you might not understand clearly enough.