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February 12, 2007

Redux: Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 16 : Ask WAC? about...Using The Media.

Trial lawyer Jack Carson (not his real name) from Shaker Heights, Ohio, writes in:

Dear WAC?: I'm 8 years out of school, I just made partner, and I try cases in federal courts. I know my evidence, and juries love me. But I'm new in town--in what you call a LawyerTown, not a ClientTown--and none of the lawyers in town outside of my firm, and none of the the judges, seem to "like" me yet. To the courts, I am "Mr. Carson"--or "what's-his-name"; the town's mainstay lawyers (who have, by the way, raised being obsequious to an art) are addressed as "Larry", "Moe" or "Racehorse". So my clients and I sometimes get shortchanged on the law and procedural matters--"townies" like Larry, Moe and Racehorse can win on some issues just by showing up. The law here seems to mean very little. Before arguments, I feel that my time would be better served picking out the right bow tie that day. What should I do? Respectfully yours, Shaker Jack

So we give Shaker Jack this somewhat cryptic, but useful, client-oriented response:

Dear Jack: LawyerTown Townies and their good 'ole boy cultures are in all but the largest US cities, and they are a big-ass problem. The law and clients become less important, and insecure judges often look to townies for cues. First, lose the bow ties for a few months. Second, stay in federal courts--and demand jury trials in all your actions. Third, just keep the client as the main event, and keep lawyering the right way. Finally, you should make journalists your friends. Start today. Generally speaking, be like Bob Strauss, the non-litigating Washington, DC lawyer legend. Make reporters, broadcasters and writers your friends before you need them. Journalists love to watchdog courts and other lawyers. Use the media sparingly and in the right way. And, hey, journalists are fun. You follow? Sincerely yours, WAC?

Posted by JD Hull at February 12, 2007 12:59 AM

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