Last Friday, I attended an excellent CLE program on Ethics & Professionalism in Virtual Legal Environments – Judicial Perspectives sponsored by the UW Law School, Continuing Legal Education. Judge Jason Rossell (Kenosha County Circuit Court) and Judge John Anderson (Bayfield County Circuit Court) discussed how the move to virtual courtrooms has affected courtroom decorum and the need to communicate specifically to the tribunal about new virtual-specific ethical concerns.
Something that Judge Anderson said particularly resonated with me: “Anything that you can do to make the judge’s job easier = Better outcomes for your clients.” That struck me as a great quote to share with my students. I followed up with Judge Anderson and he shared some additional advice that he’d received when he first started practicing law on how to make the judge’s job easier:
- Have good exhibits.
- Make sure that whatever you are using helps point the judge to your point of view.
- Give the judge the law, the facts, and make it a simple road map to a decision.
- In cases where a decision requires doing the math (divorces, property line disputes, commercial contracts), do the math for the judge. Make the exhibits and the witness lay it out. If the judge looked disgusted when he reached for his/her calculator on the bench, you weren’t doing it right.
“When I took the bench, it became obvious to me that attorneys who did that usually won the day. Even something as simple as proposed findings can make a difference.” Good advice, indeed.