From Courtroom Etiquette

Avoir le dernier mot, qu’importe? ~ Does getting in the last word matter?

French Presidential Candidate Ségolène Royal tries too hard to hang on to the last word.  La candidate Ségolène Royal essaie trop fort d’avoir le dernier mot. (Watch how many times during the segment 1:50-3:00 she points her finger at him.  Durant le segment 1:50-3:00, combien de fois lui montre-t-elle son doigt?) Les avocats et les avocates se luttent d’avoir le dernier mot, que ce soit une dispute, ou même une collaboration.  Mais voilà le piège: le dernier mot semble être l’opportunité ultime de persuader, et ce peut ouvrir à une contre-attaque pure et élégante.  De toute façon, la qualité du…

L’Humour juridique – jamais insolite, mais souvent efficace

Dans l’article du Accidental Mentor du mai 2013, “The Persuasive Art of Coded Understatement,” j’ouvre la Boîte de Pandore.  Qui utilise l’humeur dans le monde juridique?  Et qui devrait bien l’éviter?  Les avocats et les avocates peuvent vous faire rigoler, mais ceci n’est pas, ou ne doit pas, être le but.  Sans blague. Terms of use / Mentions légales

Choisissez le ‘nouveau’ professionnalisme juridique

Le droit et le combat (For English version, click here or click on the image – right) Les outils de notre métier sont-ils les insultes et les arguments ad hominem? Est-ce que nous allons collaborer à la suppression des puissances des avocats plaideurs?  Suivrons-nous le « mouvement de civilité » en droit canadien?  Ou devons-nous continuer avec les clichés de notre passé, comme le juge Riddell a capturé dans l’arrêt de 1915 dans Dale v Toronto Co. RW: « Le procès devant un jury est un combat et non un thé anglais » ? Ce n’est pas un argument nouveau. Au contraire,…

Guetter bien le juge / Eyes on the judge!

Avez-vous des collègues ou des adversaires qui ne vous écoutent point?  Ils ou elles tombent amoureux ou amoureuses de leur propre parole.  Hélas, durant un colloque au Barreau du haut-Canada, j’ai témoigné une conférencière qui monologuait sans cesse.  Elle ne regardait jamais à l’audience, et ne savait que personne ne suivait ce qu’elle disait depuis dix ou quinze minutes de torture. (English below) Imaginez-vous donc, en banc, le ou la juge au tribunal.  L’avocat qui parle à la mitrailleuse, ou qui ne prend aucune pause durant ses discours, peut bien perdre votre attention.

Winning at a meeting

Clients hire lawyers to fight their battles, but ultimately they want you to show them the peace, and to take them there. Unfortunately, we teach our lawyers to be technical wizards but leave it to chance whether they learn the law’s most basic skill: how to mobilize a gathering of people.  In 2012, winning does not mean getting your way but persuading people in an organized assembly to do what you envision they should be doing. Whether it’s an internal law firm committee, or a hearing in the law courts, this month’s Canadian Lawyer column, The Accidental Mentor, talks about three questions you…

Stop, look and listen

To a France Inter audience this past weekend, American journalist and Obama-watcher David Page commented the U.S. President’s rise to the world’s top political job virtually from nowhere can be attributed at least in part to a technique described at pedestrian rail crossings: Stop, Look and Listen.  What can lawyers learn from this? (la version français suit) According to Page, Obama on the campaign circuit invariably waits for his interlocutor to speak, intensely looks him in the eye and pauses, on purpose, after his counterpart has stopped talking.  Common and natural political behaviour, you might say.  Except in his case,…

How to lead a witness into a trap

Classic military theory had soldiers hiding in tall grass or in pits or trenches. Ambush, relying entirely on the element of surprise, was always risky because no one could predict what would happen after the surprise wore off. (la version française suit) To confuse the adversary, you will need to be confusing You still see this in the tactics of some litigation counsel.  It is most obvious at trial or during a tribunal hearing.  They will skirt around an issue, question after question, leaving both witness and trier of fact wondering whether the lawyer picked up the right brief that…

The Litigation Pendulum – One explanation for lots of motions

In its place now gleams the portico of the Toronto opera house.  The original home of the Commercial List of the Ontario Court (General Division) was a courtroom on the second floor of a near-condemned “145 Queen Street West.” (la version française suit) As junior lawyer, this was my home away from home for one memorable fortnight in the mid-1990’s.  Each day I faced a different motion, every motion in the same case, brought by the same opponent.  Each day, for ten juridical days, I returned to the office to find a new notice of motion returnable the following morning…

Judges and juries read lips – how to make them do it

We hear with our eyes, as well as our ears.  If you have any doubt about this, try having a conversation with the back of someone’s head. (la version française suit) That’s right, do it now.  If you’re at the office, play it out with a colleague or a member of your staff.  If you’re at home, try to follow the TV news with your back to the set, and see how well you follow what’s going on. The back of the head is what the judge sees, if you examine from the side closer to the jury box.  It…

Dealing with judgitis

Understand the job descriptions (la version française suit) As a lawyer appearing before the court, you are being paid to plead the case and present evidence. As in the BBC radio game, Just a minute, you must do so without “hesitation, deviation or repetition.” Provided you do this, the judge’s job is to listen. Or, in a jury trial, the judge’s job is to direct traffic, and the jury’s job is to listen. As with any occupational setting, conflicts are best resolved by clear lines between areas of responsibility. A courtroom is a place of work. It does not belong…