Finding Satisfaction in Today's Trial Practice

AFTL 13TH Annual Workhorse Seminar

By: IRA H. LEESFIELD
Leesfield Scolaro
2350 South Dixie Highway
Miami, Florida 33133
(305) 854-4900

February 5, 1998

Caribe Royale Resort, Orlando, Florida

Most of our practices involve the same three key elements:

1. Business Development

2. Trial Preparation

3. The actual trial of a case

Increasingly, the negative public view of trial lawyers promoted by special interests afraid of a level playing field, produces stress and reduces the quality of our practice. There are a number of techniques and approaches I have developed over the years which combat the "wear and tear" of the every day practice and lead to higher job satisfaction. In no special order, this paper suggests some fresh approaches to our practices making our daily work more satisfying, rewarding, and productive. There are no magic formulas, combination of ideas, or actions that work for everyone. So, here goes!

I. Quality of Life Issues:

To function under the stress, deadlines, client demands, and law firm logistics, a big commitment must be made to improve your quality of life. Here are some suggestions that may help:

A. Family and Friends

B. Exercise, Fitness, and Nutrition

C. Community Involvement

*Leesfield Family Foundation

Social, Political, and Public Service

D. Spiritual Awareness

E. Teaching, Mentoring, Writing, and Publishing

II. Satisfaction Through Business Development:

Business development can be fun and productive at the same time. The opportunity to meet new members of the community, lawyers and non-lawyers, is all part of the business development program. To expand your networking and professional circles, think about:

A. National organizations such as ATLA

B. Your State trial lawyers' organization

C. Other State trial lawyers' organizations, as well as local bar associations

D. Non-lawyer organizations, including university affiliations

E. Civic, charitable, religious, and political involvement

F. Publications such as Newsletters (see attached Exhibit 1)

G. Plan social events, home entertainment, sporting events, cultural events. Bring people together. Community involvement.

III. Trial Preparation:

One of the most difficult and stressful aspects of trial practice is discovery and preparation for trial. The everyday aspects of running a business consume time and energy and bog you down in details. Some practical tips on the basic aspects of trial practice are attached as Exhibit 2. A few helpful pointers to help make trial preparation easier and in some ways enjoyable, eliminating stress, are:

A. Smart Travel. So much of what we do involves travel. To make our job easier and even more enjoyable, an attempt should be made to add something to your travel schedule when the work is done, i.e., catch a game at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

B. Arrive early, get set for your depositions. Do not leave things for the last minute.

C. Thorough preparation and logistical planning for the time and place of your depositions.

D. If possible and the case warrants it, travel with an associate or business partner.

E. Comfort in accommodation.

F. Traveling with opposing counsel.

G. The use of experts to make trial preparation easier.

H. Organization of the file.

IV. Actual Trial of A Case:

The most satisfying part of the practice to many begins when we utter the words: "May we please the Court". All of the preparation, worrying, and anxiety is overtaken by the adrenaline of "taking the playing field". Now is the opportunity to put the case together and convert our preparation and training into a result. Some examples of satisfaction through trial and mediation include:

A. Grayson v. USA

B. Scolaro v. Turf Management Systems (after the trial)

C. Lang v. Drive Master

D. Eimers v. Honda

E. Baillou Guy v. Memorial Hospital

Conclusion:

The practice of trial lawyers is hard. It requires intensity, conviction, and perseverence. It is also amazingly satisfying and rewarding if put in the proper perspective and balance. Achieving this balance is where most lawyers miss the boat. We hear so much about "burnout", which is really just the result of imbalance in a trial lawyer's life. Hopefully, our short visit today will be uplifting, adding some insight, humor, and introspection to all of our practices.