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  • InsideTrack
  • September 02, 2015

    Build Trial Experience Through Mentoring

    Sept. 2, 2015 – Fewer cases are going to trial and that means young lawyers are no longer getting the experience they need for future litigation.

    “Having fewer lawyers with trial experience is a social problem,” says Jesse Blocher, a shareholder with Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., Waukesha.

    “It’s a practical problem for young lawyers who are trying to analyze the settlement value of a case, for example, or understand the steps in pretrial process, or to leverage settlements when you don’t have a reputation for going to trial, ” said Blocher, a certified civil trial specialist.

    It’s also a client problem, since many won’t be “able to find lawyers that can adequately do their trial work.”

    Fewer Trials, Young Lawyers Need Mentoring

    In general, fewer civil cases are going to trial. Cost is a factor. In addition, “mediation has become very effective at resolving cases,” Blocher said.

    And because fewer cases are going to trial, “there’s less experience generally and settling is easier, less costly, and less scary, and so, many cases end up settling.”

    So, what’s a young lawyer to do?

    While there are fewer available trial opportunities, aspiring lawyers can still acquire experience through hard work, determination, and learning from veteran attorneys.

    “Young lawyers should seek mentoring opportunities and then potentially do some self-learning or self-mentoring,” says Blocher. “Consider prioritizing firms that try cases over firms that maybe pay the best salary” at the start of your career.

    Moreover, lawyers should “gravitate towards those lawyers that try cases.” Then make yourself “valuable by doing excellent work product, volunteering to do tasks on litigated files, and maybe learning trial software.” All of this will help to maximize your chances of being a second-chair trial someday, says Blocher.

    When it comes to advancing your own learning, Blocher suggests going to seminars, reading trial books, and trying smaller matters. “Some criminal work, perhaps as a prosecutor or defense lawyer, municipal matters, or maybe even [a] friend’s traffic tickets, stuff like that.”

    With each experience, you’ll be better positioned to take on a trial.

    Jesse Blocher presented “You Can Do It! Civil Trial Essentials for Young Lawyers” at the State Bar’s 2015 Annual Meeting & Conference, June 24-26.

    Learn More: Is the Jury Trial Disappearing?

    For the past 30 years, jury trials have steadily declined in federal and state courts. Why is this happening, and how does it impact lawyers and the justice system? This article explores the “disappearing jury trial.”

    Read “The Disappearing Jury Trial: Implications for the Justice System and Lawyers” – InsideTrack, March 19, 2014.

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