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Five Resolutions for Litigators

by Jeri Kagel
December, 2009

We all deal with resolutions differently, regardless of the time of year. There are those who don’t make them because they are tired of breaking them. For those who do make resolutions, there is something of a typical range – folks without any intention of following through, others intending to “stick with it” (but secretly thinking that doing anything for a short time is good enough!) and those who begin the New Year with the hope of actually making good on their resolutions. (This third group tends to be in the minority!)

More often than not, any disappointment that arises from the failure to keep a resolution is over in a short time with the promise that “next year will be a better time to . . . (you fill in the blank).”

Here are some  resolutions I’d like to suggest to my attorney/litigator friends. I hope they resonate with you and add to your success -- whenever you decide to embrace them.

  1. Any effective voir dire (or interview) question is made even more informative with a good follow-up question. I resolve to ask follow-up questions whenever I really want to learn more about the person answering my questions.
  2. Over the past several years we’ve learned how sound bites and interesting story lines help people receive and digest information. This year I resolve to focus on how people get information from the Internet. I will make sure to check in with my clients about what, if anything, could be learned about them on the Internet. I will keep tabs on any information about me that gets out in cyberspace. I will suggest good court rules about jurors’ use of the Internet during trial. And I will make sure to ask as many questions of potential jurors about their Internet use as I can think of or I am allowed.

    (Okay – I know this is really more than one resolution. That’s the thing about them – sometimes in order to have one resolution you need to remember others. No wonder lots of people give up on them!)
  3. Given this economic climate, I resolve to figure out new and creative ways to set my fees. Enough said!
  4. Anyone who is a decision maker on any conflict – whether as juror, arbitrator, mediator, or judge – brings his or her life experiences to bear when hearing the story of my case. Where and when I can, I resolve to present my case so that it best resonates with the decision maker with whom I am dealing.
  5. I’ll think about how I might have done better – on a case, with a client, with my staff, or for myself. This year, I resolve to focus not only on what I need to do differently or better. This year, I will also make sure to give myself (and those who are of assistance to me) the gift of gratitude and appreciation when I am successful.

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