Rising to the Challenge: Junior Attorneys in the Courtroom (Michael Rader, New York Law Journal)

Michael Radler’s article in the New York Law Journal provides another interesting and insightful take on providing opportunities for junior attorneys to participate in meaningful trial advocacy. Mr. Radler expresses the view that allowing junior attorneys an opportunity to argue a motion in court or cross-examining a witness at trial not only ensures that there will be another generation of trial lawyers, but it serves clients well. Mr. Radler also expresses the view that junior attorneys likely were the attorneys who spent the most time with witnesses during the discovery process, including helping draft an expert’s report or preparing a fact witness for a deposition and trial examination. He also makes the subtle hint that not only are junior attorneys closer to the facts of a case, but likely are better prepared when given the opportunity to participate in meaningful trial advocacy, because they understand and cherish the value of the opportunity.

In my experience, Mr. Radler is correct. In many of my cases, I have, by virtue of seniority, been closer to the facts of the case. I was either the one reviewing the relevant documents for a particular witness, or had prepared the deposition and/or cross-examination materials for a witness. Additionally, for many motions, specifically concerning discovery issues, I knew the facts and substantive law governing the issue the best on many of my litigation teams. When given the opportunity to participate in trial advocacy, including arguing motions, I can’t say that I was 100% successful, but I can say—agreeing with Mr. Radler—that I was always prepared, and many times overly prepared. I knew the facts, but, more importantly, understood the honor of the opportunity, thus always having sought to do my best.

All of Mr. Radler’s points are spot-on, however, he may have missed another advantage of allowing junior attorneys to take a substantive role in trial advocacy. The advantage is creating loyalty—which includes a junior attorney’s loyalty to a client, firm, litigation team, and case. When given a greater role in the success of a case, my level of interest and loyalty to that client, case, and team only increased. By allowing junior attorneys to participate in meaningful trial advocacy creates a sense of ownership that will unquestionably produce successful results.

Written by: Ryan Dunigan, May 16, 2017