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Judges' Views of Lawyers in Their Courts

NCJ Number
American Bar Foundation Research Journal Issue: 3 Dated: (Summer 1979) Pages: 689-696
D L Maddi
Date Published
8 pages
In a survey questionnaire, all judges of general jurisdiction (both State and Federal) were asked for comments on the general state of the trial bar, views of the causes and cures for advocacy incompetence, and on trial lawyers in general.
The more than 700 comments created a composite of criticism that could be gathered into a picture of the 'model trial advocate.' This person would be a highly intelligent but well-rounded individual, with at least a modicum of natural talent for becoming a trial advocate. After attendance at a law school that provides a solid grounding in fundamentals, as well as practice-oriented courses related to trial advocacy, the neophyte lawyer begins practice under the tutelage of a mentor who is willing and able to inculcate his or her superior advocacy skills. When this individual has gained enough courtroom experience and benefit from critiques of trial perormance to practice independently, he or she does not accept more cases than can be prepared thoroughly. Moreover, this beginning advocate is always mindful of ethical considerations, shows respect for others, and strives toward a high level of professionalism. Such behavior is reinforced in the courtroom where judges set high performance standards for both bench and bar. This model advocate pursues lifelong education, eventually uses his or her knowledge, experience, and skill to help a new generation of potential advocates. While such qualifications would be ideal, this goal is very unlikely. As such advocates are very rare, issues to be addressed include deciding what the role of professional economics should be in relation to advocacy competence, remedying the inadequate preparation of trial lawyers, building adequate trial experience, determining whether there are indeed certain personality traits more amenable to courtroom atmospheres, and deciding whether specialization is the route to travel. Fourteen references are provided.


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