Picture take by Ian Britton: http://www.ianbritton.co.uk/
When most people think of attorneys they immediately think of a person standing in a court room addressing a judge or a jury. That is what television and the media lead people to believe. The truth is that the majority of lawyers you will meet have never, and will never set foot inside a court room. Even with attorneys that go to court a lot, very few of them ever try a case.
There are many reasons why there are very few attorneys that try cases. First, most cases whether criminal or civil are resolved short of trial. The percentage of a civil cases going to trial is very small. Civil cases can take years and there is a lot of pressure to settle cases. A higher percentage of criminal cases are tried, but even in criminal cases clients often elect to take lesser sentences through plea bargains.
Second, there are fewer attorneys learning how to try cases. Seeing that there are fewer cases going to trial, there are fewer opportunities for attorneys to learn. Even if an attorney is lucky enough to find a job in a firm that has a litigation department, many do not try their own cases. Attorneys who get jobs at big firms usually assist in getting the case ready for trial, and then hand off the case. Many clients do not want a young attorney who they believe is not as good handling their cases at trial. Instead they want the older, more experienced attorney who they believe is better.
Finally, it takes a certain personality to be a trial attorney. People may disagree on what combination of skills and personality make up the best trial attorneys; however, most people will agree that a good trial attorney is not afraid of trying a case. The factors of fewer cases going to trial combined with fewer attorneys learning how to try cases creates fear.
The amount of criminal and civil cases in the court system has not decreased over the years, but the amount of these cases going to trial has. There are many times where settlements and plea bargains are the right resolutions. However, for all the other times where a trial is appropriate, you may be hard pressed to find a good trial attorney.
For more information check out: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1090180363092
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