9 Random Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way

  1. There is enough legal timber to build any decision you want. My dad’s law professor told this to him and he passed it on to me. If you think outside the box and never give up, there is usually a way to construct a winning argument for almost any issue. Look at similar cases. Look to the code. Look to other states. Use logic. Consider the absurd extreme of your opponent’s position. Point out of a lack of support. Make something up. Just don’t throw in the towel…unless your position is morally or logically wrong.
  2. BLUF every time you write. No, don’t lie. BLUF stands for Bottom Line Up Front. State the purpose of a letter or email within the first 2 sentences.
  3. Don’t make threats. If you want a favorable response from your opponent, resist the urge to make a threat. We are lawyers. When people threaten us, we get defensive, and sometimes we get offensive.
  4. Avoid email ping pong. More than letters or phone calls, emails have the tendency to get ugly and go south from there. When you see things getting out of hand by email, switch to writing letters. And before you send the letter, let it sit on your desk a day or two.
  5. Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment. You have to fail to succeed. Perfectionism is a form of procrastination and speed kills. In other words, move forward. Jump in the deep end.
  6. Get your opponent ready for trial. The obvious way to prevent continuances is being prepared for trial. The not-so-obvious way is to make sure your opponent is prepared. Invite them to set key depositions. Set them yourself. Produce every document you have without them asking for it. Make a paper trail leading up to trial. Otherwise, the kind judge will let Mr. Defense have a few more months to get ready for trial.
  7. Don’t get so emotional baby, at least not too early. People do not trust emotion until they trust the person showing it. Do you trust anger or sadness from people you do not know? You can make the jury feel emotion with facts before showing it yourself, but do not display emotion (anger, disgust, despair) until they know you and trust you. When in doubt, go with less emotion. Reset your inner-emotional meter to zero before trial so you are on the same page as the jurors.
  8. Look at settlement before nailing down medical causation. In the right case, settling a case before nailing down causation is a great deal for your client. Look for cases with an issue over medical causation and significant medical expenses with corresponding health insurance liens (especially ERISA). Settle the case contingent on the treating physician signing a narrative or affidavit saying the injuries are not related. Then after settling, tell the health insurer you are not paying their lien. This method will allow you to make an attractive offer to defendants, because they will not have to cover all the medical. Most importantly, your client ends up with more money in their pocket in a shorter time.
  9. Be careful what you think about s juror’s experience. I had my my first jury trial when I was 26. My client was accused of forcible rape case. I had eight women and four men on my jury. The eight women wanted to acquit and the men wanted to convict. The women won the argument. The leader for women had a sister who was killed as a result of domestic violence. Given there was significant allegations of physical abuse in my case, this came as a huge surprise. Fast forward 4 years. I kept a lady on my jury because she rode motorcycles with her husband, just like my client who was injured riding with her husband. I just knew the juror would side with us. Wrong. It occurred to me afterward that siding with us would mean she was no longer safe on her motorcycle.

By Aaron Broussard – Louisiana Advocates, March 2017

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