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January 24, 2008

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Victoria Pynchon

This is pretty much ENTIRELY how I learned to practice law -- by watching my opponents. It takes a little while as you add discrimination to your monkey-see-monkey-do, i.e., "the usual stipulations, counsel?" -- no no no, it's meaningless. You also, of course, have to develop your own "voice" but trying on other people's is a good way to start -- it's a lot like creative writing in that way. You sound like Hemingway and Kerouac in your twenties and your very self in your 30's. The best piece of advice anyone ever gave me was this -- no one can be a better Vickie Pynchon than you and you can NEVER be as good as -- say -- Gerry Spence is at being Gerry Spence. It's much much easier to act through your own personality -- but before you find your way -- trying on those of people who are adverse to you -- and then positively resisting behaving like people who you see are not effective -- is one of the best ways to find your own voice as a litigator and trial attorney.

Susan Cartier-Liebel

When I first started practicing I had no idea how to do a deposition, never watched one, only had some information from a book. This particular case was very big and I was sweating (but noone could tell.) I had all the information, some pretty nasty surprises but didn't know the protocol. The other attorney was very seasoned and a nice guy. You could tell he was at the, 'this is mundane and boring' stage. I casually suggested he could go first and then I made it a point to object and argue (just so I could see how it was handled and he very obligingly was patronizing and professorial at the same time). So when it was my turn I gave it right back at him!

When it was over (and I had gotten absolutely everything I needed and some bonus information) I mentioned to him, 'by the way, this was my first deposition' his jaw dropped. He said, 'I know you are kidding me, right?" I said, 'absolutely not.' That was a sweet moment.

I would not have been taught this doing grunt document review in the cubicle of some large firm in order to 'get some experience' first before I went out to practice law. This is the greatest myth out there. You have to be clever and have faith in yourself and do copious amounts of research.

The same for examining witnesses. Worked like a charm.

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