What’s more important to consider: years in practice or trial experience?
I read this question on an advice forum. While I think everyone can concede that both are important, which (if discernible) is more important?
From my stand point, I argue that trial experience holds more sway, and I’ll tell you why. Years in practice give you experience and expertise in a field of law, but they do not necessarily make you good at articulating and litigating your points. Hopefully, with experience, attorneys become strong litigators, but I can quickly see instances where that might not be the case. An attorney might rarely go to court, work mainly with contractual negotiations or on transactional issues, and in 25 years of work only been to court a handful of times.
A trial lawyer on the other hand may have 25 years of experience in a certain field, but if asked or called to do a case in another field of law can apply their trial techniques to almost any legal issue. Experience alone falls short in other way too. For example, what if an attorney is trying a novel issue? Twenty-five years of experience in technology law may or may not prepare an attorney for a case in uncharted legal territory.
For the law students reading this: When considering your first law job after graduation, do not skip over the Public Defenders Office, the Prosecutors Office, and/or small law firms where you could get trial experience just because they may not pay you what you believe you are worth. The opportunity to develop your trial advocacy, public speaking, and negotiation skills are worth 2-3 years commitment. As New Hampshire personal injury attorney, Michael Bowser succinctly blogged about, “The other benefit of all this Courtroom trial experience? No Trial!” He goes on to point out that if you can try a case all the way to a verdict, the opposing counsel is more likely to settle.
Do you agree with me? Tell us why or why not in the comments!!