I visit a lot of law firms; and, I’ve seen a lot of stuff . . . most which I can’t tell you about, because — well, you know. So, it’s not every day that I see something I have never seen before.
Maybe it’s just me; maybe this is a trend I’ve missed; but, until recently, I’ve never been in a small law firm that featured a mock courtroom. And, perhaps this is the small law firm equivalent of placing an infinity pool in a postage stamp-sized backyard. But, if you can swing the fundage, I think it’s actually a pretty good idea for a litigation practice. Moreover, even if you don’t have the space to be able to dedicate to a full-fledged internal courtroom, you can probably acquire a rostrum, and some palatable measure of seating arrangement.
While the in-house courtroom does add some measure of perceived prestige (walking a client through it, into the back office, is probably going to seem impressive to the client, even if they don’t really know exactly why that is), you don’t quite need that to draw the benefits from a mock courtroom arrangement.
In sports, the analogy is that you play like you practice. (Practice? Practice??) But, that’s also true of most professions; just replace ‘play’ with ‘work’. If, as a law firm, you establish the habit of running your attorneys through trial-like paces in a mock court situation, your attorneys will likely perform when the real deal actually goes down. We did this sort of thing all the time on my collegiate debate team, including trading off roles as advocate and judges, which is tremendously helpful for beginning to understand, not only your burdens, but also the unique responsibilities attached to sitting as a judge. Heck, Malcolm Butler jumped that route at the end of Super Bowl XLIX because he got burned on the same play in practice. Neither is this just a useful tool for coaching up your lawyers; in the case of clients and witnesses, mock trials can help them, too, to prepare for the experience of participating in a courtroom proceeding, potentially their first.
Ray Kinsella, of course, knew the drill. And, if you’re interested in improving the advocacy skills of your lawyers, maybe it’s time to sharpen yours.
. . .
So, what’s stuck in my head this week?