The Legal Advocate

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Eating Humble Pie

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written by NITA guest blogger and Communication Expert Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla. Mrs. Diaz-Bonilla is the co-author, alongside the Honorable Nancy Vaidik, of NITA’s newest publication Point Well Made.

My clients know that eating humble pie before a motion generally prevents having to devour a hefty slice during the motion.  I recently watched one of my clients deliver a motion so conversationally and confidently, I was dazzled.  The Federal Court judge apparently agreed with me because he issued an enormous “I’m with you!” order that shot down the hopes of opposing counsel.  It was a major victory.

The effortlessness was not effortless.  This advocate spent hours with me practicing, developing his lead, thinking through creative phrasing, mapping out intricate argument trees, and rehearsing a battery of possible questions over and over and over again.

Sure, he started with huge mental horsepower (God-given) and natural advocacy talent (God-given), but he was not afraid to put himself out there and give his all.  Most impressively, he asked for feedback.  He hungered for constructive criticism, trusted my recommendations, and repaired the deficiencies.

It’s true that a less gifted lawyer would need to double the prep time to achieve the same result, but my client knew his strengths and knew specifically what he needed to practice to knock it out of the park.  All advocates need to figure out their personal recipe for winning:

  1. Assess your talents (everyone has different strengths)
  2. Practice the right things (directed practice makes perfect), and
  3. Be humble enough to get feedback (check your ego at the door for optimum results).

This combination: talent, practice, and humility will produce the right result.  I see it every day when I coach talented lawyers who realize that practice and feedback is not for the remedial, it’s for the successful.

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NITA’s team of practicing lawyers, professors and judges from around the nation dedicates its efforts to the training and development of skilled and ethical legal advocates to improve the adversarial justice system. NITA's Goals are to:
  • Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy.
  • Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice.
  • Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.
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