Are you a new criminal defense attorney? A new prosecutor? If you are, you'll be in court a lot and the hassles can really "try" your patience.
Since we have been there, done that, we put together five tips to make your life a bit easier.
1. Remind Your Client to Come to Court
People don't get arrested for being too punctual and responsible. If your client flakes, you get to waste your time trying to keep him out of jail for a failure to appear rather than doing the business you went to court for in the first place.
Call your client the night before and remind him. Or her.
2. Have Your Client Dress the Part
You don't want to be surprised when your client shows up in a see-through dress with a thong underneath. It didn't happen to me, but I've seen it and can someone please call the Fashion Police? (Bonus points if you can guess what that defendant was charged with.)
Know the court rules on appropriate attire and help your client choose something that isn't a fashion crime.
3. Know the Judge's Individual Rules
Some judges don't mind if you join the crowd of waiting lawyers at any time court is in session. Some threaten you with contempt if you aren't lined up waiting when court is called to order.
Know which judge is which, and act accordingly.
4. Write Down Difficult-to-Spell Names
Give the court reporter a business card or sheet or paper on which you've written any names you're going to say that might be difficult to spell. Okay, this tip is more about making the reporter's life easier, but if you ever need a transcript quick, the reporter might just remember your courtesy and make your life easier in turn.
Earn good karma by helping the court reporter.
5. Consolidate Cases
Does your client have any other cases? If so, consider consolidating them. One judge might be more lenient than the other. One prosecutor might offer better plea bargains than the other.
Choose wisely, and you will make your client's life easier, and yours too.
- 3 Tips for Making Your First Court Appearance With Confidence (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)
- Criminal Justice Section Resources (ABA)
- Flying Solo: Starting Your Own Law Practice (FindLaw)
- They started their own firm right after law school--and so can you (ABA)