These are the bones of an inspirational speech I've given a few times to trial lawyer associations. The Ps inspire me and hopefully they will do the same for you. Please add to this list and pass it on to another trial lawyer.
Passion - The ability to throw oneself head first into a cause with heart, mind, body and soul. Strangers who observe you can see the energy, dedication and belief emanating from your pores. Without passion we cannot advocate.
Principle - A wise older attorney once said – “you should never sue just as a matter of principle…the court system is expensive, the process tough, and ultimately it could cost you a lot of money which you will never get back.” On the other hand, sometimes the right thing to do is to sue just for the principle of the matter.
Persuasion - The key to being able to persuade is knowing you are on the right side.
Perspective – There are many different perspectives involved in having perspective. Here are two examples. 1) In the courtroom you need to convince a judge or jury. But are they seeing the evidence through the same colored glasses you are wearing - if not what do things look like through their lenses; 2) Sometimes attorneys can become too biased in favor of their client. Have you performed a reality check to make sure that you are truly seeing what is there to be seen.
Personality – We all had personality before we went to law school and were taught to think and act like boring lawyers. Stop talking so much. Listen. Feel life through your client’s eyes. Wear a color. Write like a journalist. Smile inside and out. Videotape yourself talking and ask – if I was listening to this person, how long could I bear it before I tuned out. Become “you” again and you will become a better attorney.
Power - The judge has power over the courtroom. The jury has the power to enter a verdict. The other lawyer has the power to put up a fight. Different witnesses have more or less power to tell their story. The two parties have the power to have their day in court. It doesn't help to worry about anyone else's power. You have your own power - use it wisely and never give it up.
Preparation – There is no substitute for preparation. An attorney with a silver tongue may be able to “wing it” and there may be moments of brilliance - but there is also a great chance the attorney will flop. If an attorney has a silver tongue and is prepared, there will be good consistent results. If the attorney is prepared but does not have the “wing it” ability, at least the attorney will be prepared.
Professionalism - There is alot of talk by bar associations that we must be kind to one another. But lawsuits are battles. Sure we can strive to fight with respect, grace and dignity. But trial attorneys must be aggressive, passionate, effective and tireless advocates for the sake of our clients and the cause of justice. Our politeness comes with teeth.
PowerPoint - Technology has revolutionized the way we can present cases. Now we can show and tell within a tight budget. Attend a local workshop, enlist a child aged eight on up, or get a “dummies” guide. But learn how to use this tool.
Perseverance - They punch you. You pop back up. They punch you. You pop back up. They punch you. You pop back up. Over time good things can happen. Momentum even on an impossible case can shift. Never give up until there is nothing left that you can possibly do to win.