Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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The Inexperience Trial Lawyer

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 10, 2018

No. 1,488

Here’s a piece in the Boston Globe where an experienced civil trial lawyer laments the fact that young lawyers in firms like his don’t get the opportunity to learn the ropes by trying cases anymore.

Everything he says is true.  Being a young lawyer in the trial department of  large firm may mean a very long apprenticeship — too long.  But there are still places to get experience trying cases.  The District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender are two good ones. Small firms are another.  And there are other specialties like worker’s comp or lemon law or landlord and tenant litigation where there is plenty of trial work available to learn your craft.  True, you won’t be trying too many million dollar cases in your twenties or even thirties.  But you can get lots of experience standing on your own two feet while in the line of fire.

Of course, you must be self-critical and demand improvement.  And you must be willing to accept defeat and get back up and fight again. Nobody wins every case.  Not even Clarence Darrow.

Trying cases is not for every lawyer.  Emergency is the name of the game. You can plan and practice your opening, but can’t eliminate every surprise or that pesky witness who tenaciously clings to a line of testimony which, if believed, will sink your boat.

Somehow, if you do a good job, the word gets around.  Trial litigation may be declining, but it is unlikely ever to die.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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