Winning Briefs Is More Important Than Winning Cases by LawCrossing


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Winning Briefs Is More Important Than Winning Cases
As an attorney, you win and lose in the courts every day. In reality, each case pleaded in front of the bench is like a big war with small
battles won or lost on each date of appearance. Especially, where substantial or original questions of law are involved, the ultimate
outcome can be anticipated, but can never be forecast with absolute certainty.

When newcomers join the legal profession, most possess                  greater the chances of your success, and you can’t afford to
a straightforward view of success in the courts and equate              be too choosy in accepting new briefs.
professional success with the number of court battles won.
While that may be true to some extent, there are a lot of               I have seen brilliant young attorneys burnt out by being
other factors, including luck that contributes to professional          deluded that, winning or losing before the court sums
success, and each of those factors has the same or greater              up career success. The natural consequence is that such
importance than rulings in your favor.                                  youngsters become too choosy and refuse to accept most
                                                                        cases that do not show clear chances of winning. In the
Let me make this simple. Do you see attorneys known to                  process, they lose the most important part of their careers,
have successful careers, win every appearance before the                the beginning years. Usually, such people happen to be above
bench? The answer is no. Do you see attorneys known to                  average students at law school who struck out solo. They
have unsuccessful careers lose every appearance before the              behave like Hollywood stars, who pick and choose their roles
bench? The answer, again, is no. Winning cases is a target,             and refuse a movie if the role does not appeal to them. Their
and winning is a routine part of an attorney’s job. Similarly           track of success at law school prevents them from equating
losing cases is an occupational hazard and a routine part of an         themselves with struggling new actors, and they straightway
attorney’s life. In adversarial litigation, the number of cases         identify with stars. This is a big mistake to make at the
won by attorneys on one side equals the number of cases lost            beginning of your career.
by attorneys on the other side. And attorneys on both sides
get paid. So, the real indication of career success is not in how       The legal profession is a true profession for adults, and the
many cases you won, but in how many of those cases, you                 court community is the most mature and learned community
were actively involved, and the role you played in representing         you will ever find. It is your instant performance on every
your side.                                                              appearance that counts, and a sincere representation of a
                                                                        losing case will bring you more kudos than winning a simple
Okay, so let me make this simpler. Have you seen successful             case. Believe it or not, there is nothing to dread if your first
lawyers with few briefs? The answer is no, successful lawyers           appearance is with a losing case. Chances are, every person
have a huge number of briefs. Have you seen unsuccessful                involved in the case, including your client, already knows it to
lawyers with a huge number of briefs? The answer, again, is             be a lost cause. Don’t let your fear of losing overwhelm you.
no. The lawyer popularly perceived as unsuccessful in career            Again, remember, in the courts, losing is a routine affair. You
has few briefs. So, here is something you can directly equate           try to win, and give your best, but losing a court battle does
with career success as an attorney. Not the gross number of             not mean the end of your career. Refusing briefs, however, and
court battles you win or lose, but the cumulative number of             failing to win briefs, can destroy your career. Winning client
briefs you have on your hands is a major indicator of career            briefs is as much, if not more, important than winning cases
success.                                                                in court. Be a good negotiator first, if you want to survive and
                                                                        become a good lawyer.
So, the real struggle is in winning those briefs, and the real
war takes place outside the courtroom even before a suit or             Court practice on the track of success has a huge inertia. It
the first application for relief is filed. The greater the number       takes tremendous effort to start moving, but once movement
of people you can convince to trust you with their briefs, the          starts, it is more difficult to stop. The key to professional

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success lies in overcoming the initial inertia and start moving.         career, but if you do not know how to win briefs that chance
Winning court battles is a vital but minor part of that struggle.        will never come.
Bagging a sufficient number of briefs is what propels your
career forward.                                                          So, learning how to convince clients to hand over their briefs
                                                                         to you is more important than knowing the law. In courts, you
You have more briefs, you learn more, you gather more                    will find senior counsel and attorneys who will impart their
experience, you appear more in front of the court, and you               legal knowledge to you or fight your case for a fee, and your
have greater chances to practice and get better. A greater               lack of legal knowledge can be made up for. However, no one
number of briefs is what counts as career success for the                will help to make up for your lack of briefs. That’s one war
regular attorney and not a greater number of wins. Winning               you will have to learn how to fight and win if you want to be a
a single case, which is in the public eye, can catapult your             successful attorney.

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