American Bar Association

When the average person thinks of litigation, they likely envision the thrilling and high-intensity courtroom scenes portrayed on television shows like Law & Order or the classic movie, My Cousin Vinny. As any litigator would confirm, litigation rarely mirrors the level of excitement and drama portrayed on television and in movies, but it has its moments. As a fledging litigator, I have already experienced both the pressures and the thrills that come with my chosen career. I have learned that with the right guidance and tools, the litigation “joy” can outweigh the stress. In a recent Law360 Article, experienced litigators shared their tips on how to achieve success in this high-stress environment. Their seven tips for success revolve around habits of organization, discipline and efficiency, as follows.

Keep Perspective
Perspective is based on what you know. Stephen Kastenberg, a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP, encourages us to focus on understanding our clients’ needs and expectations. For example, understanding the client requires us to know the appropriate strategy when handling a case, “whether that’s litigating a matter to trial or avoiding a lawsuit,” he says. Understanding the client’s needs also translates to predicting their needs. “Be proactive by thinking in advance about the trajectory of a client’s case or goals,” adds Sandra Bresnick, cochair of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP’s global life sciences practice.

In my experience, fulfilling a client’s needs can be as simple as maintaining communication – being transparent. As Jill Del Monico, Associate General Counsel of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch recently explained at a panel discussion entitled Practical Tips for Fostering Strong Relationships with In-House Counsel, held at Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., in New York City, keeping the client in the loop regarding deadlines, expenses, or unexpected developments in the case is essential. Maintaining habitual client communication will allow you to become proactive and predict the client’s needs.

Trust Your Team
Delegation of work and trusting your team is key. Ed Chapin, managing partner of Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP’s San Diego office, describes the value in creating and using management tools such as checklists and timelines to ensure tasks are accomplished and work is disturbed evenly throughout a team.

This is great advice. I have found that unlike most law school experiences, the legal practice requires attorneys to thrive in a collaborative environment. The inherent nature of the law school “curve” is competitive and counterproductive to what attorneys, particularly litigators, do on a day-to-day basis. Every successful litigator needs a team. Even Wonder Woman has the Justice League. Developing delegation and management skills earlier in your career can help with your long-term success.

To read the entire article on the American Bar Association website, click here

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