This post looks at at an article by Sidney Butcher in the ABA publication “Views from the Bench: Tips for Young Lawyers on How to Make a Good Impression.”  The Honorable Lynne Stewart, a District Court Judge and the Honourable Julie Robinson a Federal Court Judge give guidance to young lawyers.


As ever the aim is to encourage you to read the original. The key points for a UK audience in particular are:-


“Be Prompt, Polite and Professional.” Judge Lynne Stewart

“Approach court and chambers staff with respect and a healthy dose of humility.  They are experienced, knowledgeable and have the judge’s respect and trust.”

Don’t try to be Perry Mason

The judge’s appear sceptical of attempts to “oversell” or “appear brilliant” for the sake of it.

“You are not a puppet, make your record.Give quick answers, quit when ahead, know what you don’t know and no Perry Mason moments.” Judge Lynne Stewart

Collegiality with Colleagues

“Make friends, not enemies, everywhere you go.”  “Pick your battles.  Credibility is all you have.”  Judge Robinson

“Let your argument speak for you.  Do not seek to embarrass opposing counsel or go in for the “kill.”  Consider letting opposing counsel know of a case that clearly supports your position prior to presentation in court.  Alternatively, ask to approach the judge with opposing counsel and talk off the record.  It saves time and strengthens your credibility with the judge.”

Know thy judge

“This is likely the most important rule young lawyers will hear early in practice.  Every judge has his or her own idiosyncrasies that must be accommodated.  A young lawyer’s ability to be flexible and adapt to judges will go a long way toward improving your reputation in the legal community.”