I never understood it.
A criminal lawyer is prone to try more cases than a civil lawyer. It's what draws us to the profession. Yet I hear every day lawyers bitching and moaning about being in trial. It's not because they don't like trying a case (which some don't), it's mainly the private practitioner that believes it's a burden on the "practice."
Why would you enter the profession of criminal law and not want to be in trial? Isn't the greatest part of the practice sitting in court and questioning witnesses, arguing points of law and facts of a case? Or is it sitting in the office collecting checks and interviewing potential clients?
Last night a fellow criminal defense lawyer lamented to me that being in trial meant "no new clients" until the trial is over. Really? Trial ends in the evening. Is meeting with a potential client after work or on a Saturday prohibited?
The treadmill of morning court - office - home - morning court - office - home, gets old, and it doesn't make anyone a better lawyer. There's nothing better for the "practice" then dusting off the "good" suits and going toe to toe with the government for a few hours, few days, or few weeks. It's not a burden on the practice, it's a benefit of the practice.
Being in trial just means things get shifted. I find myself more disciplined when I'm in trial - waking up earlier, not procrastinating, using the free time efficiently. If you have some friends that can cover other matters, life goes on.
In private practice the trials don't come as often as when I was in the public defender's office. This is why I embrace them. There is a peacefullness to being in a courtroom with no cell phone, no wireless access, no fires to put out in the office, no running from courtroom to courtroom or meeting to meeting. Just sitting in one courtroom, trying a case.
I love it.
Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Post to Twitter
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