I’m on trial this week (a dispute over the ownership of a business), so posting will obviously be light for the next two weeks. But I couldn’t let this quote from an article about Samuel L. Jackson slip by:
William Friedkin, who directed Jackson in “Rules of Engagement,” told me: “Sam is a director’s dream. Some actors hope to find their character during shooting. He knows his character before shooting. Sam’s old-school. I just got out of his way. I never did more than two takes with Sam.” Friedkin said that some people say Jackson works too much, but he dismissed actors who wait around for “Hamlet.” “You take what you can get,” he said, “to keep your engine tuned. An artist doesn’t burn out with age because he works too much. Working hones his craft.”
So it is with trial lawyers. You need to get back into the courtroom to keep your engine tuned, to hone your craft.
Some parts of trial are like riding a bike. You won’t forget how to tell if a statement is hearsay (assuming you knew how to tell in the first place).
But situations change quickly in a courtroom and a lawyer’s judgment tends to dull if not exercised frequently. Even in what seems like the most routine witness, there will always be adverse rulings from the judge or unexpected statements from a witness, and there’s a particular skill in figuring out what to do with that change immediately, a skill that simply can’t be taught or practiced. You just have to do it, and do it often.