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Trial Lawyers: Only Do What Only You Can Do

Ken Lopez
By: Ken Lopez

Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Trial Technology, Litigation Management, Trial Preparation, Management, Leadership, Opening

"Only do what only you can do." My mentor throughout the 1990s and 2000s used to say this to me, and it was one of the best lessons a CEO with a fast-growing company could hear. 

The message was, of course, to stop trying to do too much myself and let other people do their part. Don't micromanage. Don't rescue. Don't interfere. Don't hover. And do let people learn by doing - even if it means making (small) mistakes. The overall message was to delegate responsibly.

Based on three decades of observing the world's best trial lawyers, I can confirm that the best trial lawyers are experts in delegation, whether they are first chair or fifth chair. However, many trial lawyers, particularly those with many members on a trial team, would benefit from better following the lead of the greats. The problems I've seen (and I bet you have too) are numerous.

An expert in riding horses, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor once said, "The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs." I think that is exactly right when it comes to management generally, and based on decades of watching the best trial teams operate, it's absolutely true when it comes to trial team management.

I'm really in love with our trial team self-assessment tool described in A2L's article, 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams. A former colleague wrote about 7 Habits of Great Trial Teams. We have even released a book that shares many of the best practices we have seen great trial lawyers implement when it comes to leadership. All of those resources are free, and I encourage you to take advantage of them or share them with someone who should.

So, as you approach a large trial having hopefully followed some of our yearlong recommended best practices for heading to trial, ask yourself, "Am I doing what only I can do, or am I doing work that others can do (even if they do it differently than me)?"

Other free resources from A2L focused on trial team management, best practices of great trial lawyers, and effective trial preparation include:

litigation leadership 4th edition


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