Litigators drink wine. A trial lawyer drinks whiskey and tries cases.

In an interesting post on Above the Law, the other day, John Balestriere reported that a South Dakota Judge, Cheryle Gering, gave the following directive to some lawyers in her courtroom:

“You need to be trial lawyers. A litigator drinks wine and takes depositions. A trial lawyer drinks whiskey and tries cases.” Wow. Suddenly every trial lawyer in America wants to try cases in Judge Gering’s courtroom.

Balestriere takes it a step further and argues that if you really want to be a trial lawyer, and be good at it, you need to be a whiskey drinker. Because somehow, whiskey drinking lawyers do the following:

  1. Focus on the big picture and don’t waste time on details no juror wants to hear about;
  2. Understand how to use evidence to help you win at trial as opposed to impressing colleagues at lunch;
  3. Take depositions with identifiable objectives, as opposed to simply deposing everyone residing in the western hemisphere on the day of the occurrence;
  4. Think about how to get evidence to the jury; and
  5. Develop a compelling narrative that is consistent with the evidence.

Mr. Balestriere doesn’t offer any empirical evidence to support any of his assertions. But there is some anecdotal evidence.

F. Lee Bailey, for example, in his prime, used to say that “…trials make me thirsty.” And he wasn’t talking about water.

And my all time [fictional] favorite lawyer, Boston’s Frank Galvin[played to perfection by Paul Newman in The Verdict], used to enjoy a bracer before going to court in the am. And things worked out ok for Frank. It’s not everyday that the jury foreman politely inquires if the jury can award MORE than the attorney requested in his closing remarks.

Maybe Judge Gering is onto something.

Categories: Blog, TRIAL PRACTICE