A trial lawyer like John Himmelstein can experience hectic workdays. While an average day for a trial lawyer can span from 8 to 12 hours, a large chunk of that time is devoted to research. When understanding what it’s like to be a trial lawyer, assessing the average workday rather than one with a specialty case is often much more accurate.
A Typical Morning At The Office
John Himmelstein has 35 years’ worth of experience and has a thorough understanding of what life is like as a Boston trial lawyer. When he’s not in a courtroom, he is often researching and updating current developments.
Mornings are often a productive time for trial lawyers. A schedule can provide specific appointment times as well as meetings to review contracts. This is the part of the day when returning phone calls is most common. Client phone calls can consist of case updates and questions.
Mornings are an ideal time for reviewing upcoming court cases and documents. Attorneys like John Himmelstein must be adaptable to whatever situation presents itself. It is often easier to come up with a strategy and recommendations during the early hours before a case goes to trial.
Preparing for trial takes patience and a knack for detail. By thoroughly researching the case and meeting with the client, lawyers have increased knowledge on how to conduct the case.
A successful trial lawyer can:
- control the courtroom
- project confidence in their client
- understand every aspect of the case
- connect with the jury
When setting up a trial, a lawyer should know who the key witnesses will be in addition to all potential evidence. This may require multiple phone calls, meetings, and documentation. Before court, many attorneys will review relevant case law. By analyzing the fact pattern, this can support the overall game plan.
The Pre-trial Process
Before trial, many lawyers must wait inside the courthouse before meeting with a judge. This can take a significant amount of time, and some attorneys find themselves waiting for multiple hours. A judge can also issue a continuance or a postponement of the case. Continuances can happen for several reasons listed below:
More Preparation Needed
Defendants may need more time to hire their own attorney. If they cannot hire their own lawyer, legal aid can be requested. Depending on the state, there is usually a minimum amount of time between entering a plea and going to court. If a defense is not adequately prepared, their counsel has the right to ask the court for a continuance.
The first court appearance usually includes a judge reading the charges and asking for a plea. If a defendant has not secured counsel, they can be granted time to find an attorney. If this continuance is granted, the defendant has a specified amount of time to hire an attorney before they are appointed a public defender.
Securing a Witness
Occasionally a defense witness can disappear or suddenly become unavailable. If that occurs, the defense can ask for more time in order to locate the witness. The court will need to be convinced that the witness’s testimony is important.
Dealing with Publicity
In certain cases, defendants can ask for a continuance because prejudicial publicity has become an issue. The judge will assess whether the publicity is widespread and what type of impact it has on the case. This can involve changing the case to a separate venue or postponement.
Trials can be an exciting and lucrative event for a lawyer. Although it can often be an emotional experience with high tension, the work can also take extreme energy.
A trial lawyer can be in charge of choosing jury members. They are also responsible for opening and closing statements. Unexpected questions may arise as well as additional information. Regardless of the case, intense focus is necessary.
If a case is presented before a jury, the judge will give instructions. The jury must be informed about the law that governs that specific case. The court officer will usually administer the oath to both witnesses and jurors. A court officer will also keep order in the courtroom.
A court reporter will type everything that all parties say. Witness testimony, objections, and the judge will all be recorded. If the court reporter does not use a reporter, the case can be audio recorded.
Lawyers from both sides will vigorously represent their clients. Based on evidence and witness testimony, they will present all the facts. Cross-examinations can become tense and emotional for even experienced lawyers such as John Himmelstein. This is to be expected for certain cases.
Many trial lawyers have a checklist before they enter the courtroom. Making sure all evidence is admissible is one of the #1 priorities before trial. Not all documentation or statements can be considered evidence depending on the case. Learning each aspect of the case can help when deciding what to present.
When Is The Day Done?
This question evolves over time. Depending on the case, some days are lighter than others. Many lawyers work approximately 40 hours per week, but this can easily change. Before going to court, every case must be thoroughly researched. Experienced lawyers can handle multiple cases at the same time.
Regardless of the type of lawyer, a heavy level of concentration is needed to be successful. Court documents, case details, client statements, and other recordings are essential. With the type of laser focus necessary to complete the job, it can be easy for new lawyers to feel overwhelmed. Setting aside time for other priorities in life is imperative to keeping a healthy lifestyle.