More Advice to the Young Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer — Preface


I wrote back in April about Advice to a Young Criminal Trial Lawyer. Yesterday I got an email from Adam Levin of the Southern Criminal Law and Justice blog, asking for answers to specific questions that new criminal-defense lawyers might have. (Adam sent the email to nine other criminal defense bloggers as well; Jon Katz of Underdog has already posted his replies under the title, It’s not how you dress, but how you persuade). I think you could write a book on the subjec — maybe The Education of a Criminal Trial Lawyer on the model of Herbert O. Yardley’s classic The Education of a Poker Player. I’ll try to answer all of Adam’s questions in the next couple of days.

Adam will, I’m sure, welcome responses from other criminal-defense lawyers. Here are the questions:
Philosophy

What practical advice do you have for maintaining boundaries in your life?

What are some must-read books for the burgeoning criminal defense attorney (non-fiction or fiction)?

How about films?

Do you perform volunteer, pro bono, or low bono work? Why or why not?

How important is it to be involved in local politics or the local bar?

If you won 10 million dollars, how would your practice change?

Clients

Is it necessary to like your clients?

Maintaining client confidentiality is obviously important. What advice do you have for maintaining it?

Is it ever appropriate to sugar-coat a situation for a client?

Do you always return calls within a set period?

What advice do you have for dealing with difficult clients?

What is your thought process before deciding whether a particular client will testify at trial?

In your mind, what are appropriate reasons to turn away a potential client?

Do you subscribe to a “client centered” approach to your work? If so, what does that entail?

Investigation

What is the most over-looked tool of investigation?

If you live in a jurisdiction that uses optional reciprocal discovery, do you recommend its use?

Do you have any tips for using your investigator effectively?

Trial

What do you do before trial to calm your nerves (assuming you still get nervous)?

Is the old advice about starting with your closing statement and working backwards still good advice for preparing a case for trial (it’s what they were selling at my law school)?

Other than trying cases, where should an aspiring criminal defense attorney look to improve his or her trial skills?

Any quick tips for Direct Examination?

Any tips for Cross Examination?

How important is it to get your client into a nice set of clothes?

What pointers do you have regarding appropriate attorney attire in the courtroom?

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