Winning Briefs Is More Important Than Winning Cases As an attorney, you win and lose in the courts every day. In reality, each case pleaded in front of the bench is like a big war with small battles won or lost on each date of appearance. Especially, where substantial or original questions of law are involved, the ultimate outcome can be anticipated, but can never be forecast with absolute certainty.
When newcomers join the legal profession, most possess a straightforward view of success in the courts and equate professional success with the number of court battles won. While that may be true to some extent, there are a lot of other factors, including luck that contributes to professional success, and each of those factors has the same or greater importance than rulings in your favor. Let me make this simple. Do you see attorneys known to have successful careers, win every appearance before the bench? The answer is no. Do you see attorneys known to have unsuccessful careers lose every appearance before the bench? The answer, again, is no. Winning cases is a target, and winning is a routine part of an attorney’s job. Similarly losing cases is an occupational hazard and a routine part of an attorney’s life. In adversarial litigation, the number of cases won by attorneys on one side equals the number of cases lost by attorneys on the other side. And attorneys on both sides get paid. So, the real indication of career success is not in how many cases you won, but in how many of those cases, you were actively involved, and the role you played in representing your side. Okay, so let me make this simpler. Have you seen successful lawyers with few briefs? The answer is no, successful lawyers have a huge number of briefs. Have you seen unsuccessful lawyers with a huge number of briefs? The answer, again, is no. The lawyer popularly perceived as unsuccessful in career has few briefs. So, here is something you can directly equate with career success as an attorney. Not the gross number of court battles you win or lose, but the cumulative number of briefs you have on your hands is a major indicator of career success. So, the real struggle is in winning those briefs, and the real war takes place outside the courtroom even before a suit or the first application for relief is filed. The greater the number of people you can convince to trust you with their briefs, the
greater the chances of your success, and you can’t afford to be too choosy in accepting new briefs. I have seen brilliant young attorneys burnt out by being deluded that, winning or losing before the court sums up career success. The natural consequence is that such youngsters become too choosy and refuse to accept most cases that do not show clear chances of winning. In the process, they lose the most important part of their careers, the beginning years. Usually, such people happen to be above average students at law school who struck out solo. They behave like Hollywood stars, who pick and choose their roles and refuse a movie if the role does not appeal to them. Their track of success at law school prevents them from equating themselves with struggling new actors, and they straightway identify with stars. This is a big mistake to make at the beginning of your career. The legal profession is a true profession for adults, and the court community is the most mature and learned community you will ever find. It is your instant performance on every appearance that counts, and a sincere representation of a losing case will bring you more kudos than winning a simple case. Believe it or not, there is nothing to dread if your first appearance is with a losing case. Chances are, every person involved in the case, including your client, already knows it to be a lost cause. Don’t let your fear of losing overwhelm you. Again, remember, in the courts, losing is a routine affair. You try to win, and give your best, but losing a court battle does not mean the end of your career. Refusing briefs, however, and failing to win briefs, can destroy your career. Winning client briefs is as much, if not more, important than winning cases in court. Be a good negotiator first, if you want to survive and become a good lawyer. Court practice on the track of success has a huge inertia. It takes tremendous effort to start moving, but once movement starts, it is more difficult to stop. The key to professional
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Feature success lies in overcoming the initial inertia and start moving. Winning court battles is a vital but minor part of that struggle. Bagging a sufficient number of briefs is what propels your career forward. You have more briefs, you learn more, you gather more experience, you appear more in front of the court, and you have greater chances to practice and get better. A greater number of briefs is what counts as career success for the regular attorney and not a greater number of wins. Winning a single case, which is in the public eye, can catapult your
career, but if you do not know how to win briefs that chance will never come. So, learning how to convince clients to hand over their briefs to you is more important than knowing the law. In courts, you will find senior counsel and attorneys who will impart their legal knowledge to you or fight your case for a fee, and your lack of legal knowledge can be made up for. However, no one will help to make up for your lack of briefs. Thatâ€™s one war you will have to learn how to fight and win if you want to be a successful attorney.
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In courts, you will find senior counsel and attorneys who will impart their legal knowledge to you or fight your case for a fee, and your la...