Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Practice tips: don't be afraid to look at a rule book, or read a few cases

Novel thoughts in the practice of law: Number 532 - Know the law.

So it might be a good idea, if you're a practicing lawyer, to know the law from time to time. Or know that, before beginning an argument, you might need to point the judge to the fact that you know it exists.

Here's another way to look at it - knowing the law is a way to win cases and make your clients happy. If you can show the judge "hey, here's the law" and then show the judge "but here's the facts of my case" you have a better chance of winning an argument. Which means more cases, and more clients, since happy clients will refer other people to you.

In other words, cases, laws, and rules are your friends. Here's the thing - cite the law, case, rule, statute, what have you. The judge needs to know that you know it. Besides, you went to law school for a while, then passed the Bar exam to practice, and you are probably proud of that fact. Then argue that -for certain reasons - your case is unique, so the law, case, rule etc. shouldn't apply, or that it applies in the way that you and your client want it to.

Make it easy for the judge to agree with you!

Also - if you have somehow become an attorney who doesn't do this, this small fact gets known. It's easy - and maybe a little lazy - to jump right into arguing, and repeat facts to the judge and ask the judge to rule your way - but if the law's not on your side, or you can't argue that it should be, that is the first thing that opposing counsel will point out to the judge, and the thing that they will point out to their client.

Here's a good place to start - Michigan Rules of Court (MCR). (via Michigan Courts).

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