When litigating a matter it is critical to
remember that, ultimately, it is not about the
case. It is about the fact finder's perception of
the case based on how you present it.
During a recent meeting with a
group of young lawyers, an intriguing discussion developed surrounding the practice of law and
the changing nature of litigation.
Before the session ended, one of
the lawyers asked me: “What does
the 47 year old Craig wish that the
27 year old Craig knew about the
law and trial work?”
What a great question! After
years of practice and miles of travel
across this amazing country, I have
seen and learned quite a bit about
trying cases and zealously repre-
senting clients. For those of us still
learning—which should mean all of
us—and especially for those in the
early stages of a legal career, a list
of lessons learned can be of some
With the above in mind, what
follows is a list of themes that the
younger me would have appreciated knowing. I hope they are helpful
It’s Not About The Case
When litigating a matter it is crit-
ical to remember that, ultimately,
it is not about the case. It is about
the fact finder’s perception of the
case based on how you present it.
“Great” cases have been lost and
“horrible” cases have been won be-
cause of the case presentation, and
no trial lawyer can ever assume
that the finder of fact will simply
In this age of information
overload and bullet point news,
the need to present case themes in
ways that are understandable and
relatable are even more important.
Be aware of the potential cognitive
biases of your finders of fact, and
make sure they shift toward your
When trying a case, ALL eyes are
on you, and how you look, act and
treat people matter. Speak to the
clerk, pick up after yourself, make
sure your socks match. If you have
ever seen juror comments after a
trial, you might be surprised at the
things they found important and
discussed during deliberations.
Don’t let your optics distract them
from the case presentation.
Be Prepared to Call an
In our quest to win and focus on
the outcome we want, it is sometimes possible to get too close to
“The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs, one step
at a time” — Joe Girard
IF I KNEW THEN...
LITIGATION MATTERS BY CRAIG A. THOMPSON, ESQ.