By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
I’m writing a series of blogs describing what I think it takes to be an effective criminal defense lawyer. Yesterday, I wrote about not being judgmental – a cornerstone of the mindset of a defense lawyer.
Today, I’m writing about another concept:
#9 Be Organized
I have two favorite quotes which go hand in hand about how I like to think I approach my work.
The first quote is, “the harder I work, the luckier I get” from Samual Goldwyn, a producer who founded MGM. The second is from Jim Turner, a player on the Denver Broncos after they lost the Super Bowl in 1977 to the Dallas Cowboys… he said, “We were thinking about being the Super Bowl Champs and they were thinking about football.”
Many lawyers “think about being Super Bowl Champs” but they don’t mind the details or put in the sweat-equity it takes to win. They confuse thinking about winning with the work it actually takes to win.
Every case is its own snowflake and some can be extremely complex. It can be easy to get lost. The more I practice, the more I appreciate the reality lawyers need a compass to navigate each case which makes sure every detail is addressed.
A good defense lawyer in my view needs a systematic way of approaching each case. Do you think they make things up as the go along in an operating room? Do you think a pilot with 323 souls on their commercial jetliner just treats their flight like a drive to the 7-11? Do you think when NASA is about to launch humans into space with a $1.3 billion dollar project they just wing it?
No way! They have checklist after checklist. They have redundant failsafe measures designed to minimize their margin of error. Why would we be any different when we are charged with protecting our clients lives?
Television and movies teach us bad lessons. They teach us there are some lawyers can just walk into a courtroom and leave the jury in tears when they just got the case two commercial breaks ago. I know some pretty darn talented lawyers. But I don’t know anyone quite that amazing.
The rest of us need to be organized!
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.