We often are asked what characteristics a client should evaluate when considering whether to retain an attorney. While knowledge and experience are extremely important, the personal traits of the attorney also must be carefully considered. It is often reported in the literature that when clients are asked what it was about their attorney that led to a successful result, you rarely hear the client reference the attorney’s background or experience. Instead, they most often praise the lawyer’s personal attributes. As one commentator has noted, when clients are asked to explain how their lawyer won a case for them (especially a trial), they’ll likely tell you it wasn’t as much about background as backbone.
Our experience teaches us that the most effective and succesful lawyers — especially trial lawyers — share the following traits:
1. Credibility & building trust with clients, judges, jurors and opposing counsel.
2. Confidence & instinct – the ability to make steady and sure decisions in a confident and assured manner.
3. Curiosity – the burning desire to learn as much as one can about a particular subject and about life in general, which is the essential building block on which effective communication skills are built.
4. Competitive spirit – the inner drive to represent the client’s interests in the absolute best way possible, no matter how much of a personal sacrifice is required of the attorney, and to obtain the best possible result for the client based on the facts and evidence available. It does not mean “win at all costs” but rather refusing to accept defeat.