This morning I was visiting with dinosaur-in-training Feroz F. Merchant (actually a super lawyer despite the cheesy SuperLawyer designation) about developing the trial lawyer’s art. Feroz was lamenting the many lawyers practicing criminal law who are just there for the money, and care more about their clothes than about either their clients or their art. (Sounds familiar, eh, Shawn?) Feroz, who was down at the federal courthouse to catch some of Norm’s cocaine trial that I was shanghaied into (we finally got a jury picked, by the way), mentioned a way of becoming a better federal criminal-defense lawyer that had never occurred to me.
The federal courts in our district use electronic recording; there is an audio recording made of each court proceeding. The ERO (Electronic Recording Office) will sell audio DVDs (I guess they hold about a day’s proceedings) of court proceedings for $50 a pop. Feroz picks a lawyer who he knows to do great work, finds a case that that lawyer tried (he searches the computers in the clerk’s office; if you have PACER access you can do the same through your district’s ECF system with your PACER login), buys the recording of the trial, and copies the audio to his iPod to listen to in his free time.
It sounds like a great — and inexpensive — way to learn from some of the masters.
Feroz also pointed out that the Office of Defender Services puts its written materials up on the web, where they are available for free. Outside of actually trying cases, it’s the best training you can get.
Great stuff. Thanks, Feroz.