How Can Communication Be Adapted for Challenging Judges Or Arbitrators?


    How Can Communication Be Adapted for Challenging Judges Or Arbitrators?

    When presenting a case in front of a tough judge or arbitrator, even seasoned attorneys must tailor their communication strategies. An Attorney starts us off with the need to 'Prepare for the Unexpected,' while our comprehensive list includes additional answers such as the importance of 'Focusing on Logical Structure.' These insights, along with those from legal specialists, provide a spectrum of tactics for effectively arguing in challenging legal settings.

    • Prepare for the Unexpected
    • Follow Effective Communication Rules
    • Understand Preferences and Temperament
    • Maintain Clarity and Respect
    • Engage in Active Listening
    • Anticipate and Structure Responses
    • Use Precise Legal Language
    • Focus on Logical Structure

    Prepare for the Unexpected

    "Always have a plan B"—is some advice that has served me well. You've got to not only prepare for the hearing, argument, etc., that you think is coming—the most likely one—but also for the others. The ones you don't think are coming. Sometimes, it's listening more than speaking. Other times, it's the tone of the argument. Nonetheless, think deeply about the phrase "be prepared" and ask yourself what it really means to be prepared. Ask yourself, "When this goes sideways, how will I deal with it?" Finally, make sure you know what the judge wants. If it's wearing a tie, wear the tie. If it's filing your judgment before the hearing, file the judgment. Don't create an opportunity for an issue to creep up; instead, try to eliminate it.

    Travis Hookham
    Travis HookhamAttorney, Lanza Law Firm, P.C.

    Follow Effective Communication Rules

    I don't particularly change it, but I try to always follow the rules of effective communication:

    At all times, know your audience. Read social cues. Stop talking when a judge starts talking. Listen. Make eye contact. Stand tall.

    Evan Walker
    Evan WalkerAttorney, The Law Office of Evan W. Walker

    Understand Preferences and Temperament

    When it comes to navigating tricky judges or arbitrators, it's all about understanding their preferences and temperament. You see, every judge or arbitrator has their own unique style and quirks, so it's crucial to adapt accordingly. For instance, if you're dealing with a no-nonsense judge who prefers concise arguments, you'll want to keep it short and to the point. On the other hand, if you're facing a more analytical arbitrator, you might need to delve into the nitty-gritty details of your case.

    One key strategy I often employ is to do my homework beforehand. I research the judge or arbitrator's past rulings and read up on any articles or opinions they've written. This gives me valuable insights into their legal philosophy and helps me tailor my arguments to resonate with them.

    Another important aspect is maintaining a professional demeanor at all times. Even if the judge or arbitrator is being particularly challenging, it's crucial to remain calm, respectful, and composed. I always make sure to listen carefully to their questions or concerns and address them thoughtfully. Building rapport and showing that you're willing to engage in constructive dialogue can go a long way in winning them over.

    Mike Schmidt
    Mike SchmidtCivil Trial Law Specialist, Personal Injury Trial Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy., Schmidt & Clark

    Maintain Clarity and Respect

    Lawyers can enhance their court interactions by focusing on delivering their messages with clarity and respect. Regardless of the difficulty presented by the judge or arbitrator, maintaining a concise and respectful tone is foundational to effective legal communication. It is important to recognize the formal setting and the decorum it demands.

    Straying from this with informal or disrespectful language can compromise the presentation of a case. By adhering to this approach, attorneys can ensure that their arguments are received in the best possible light. Remember to always uphold professionalism in your dialogues in the courtroom.

    Engage in Active Listening

    Effective communication with challenging judges or arbitrators often hinges on a lawyer's ability to listen as well as they speak. When lawyers engage in active listening, they not only understand the judge's points more fully but can also tailor their responses more effectively. Acknowledging the viewpoints and concerns of the judicial figure can demonstrate respect and thoughtfulness.

    This attention to detail and respect for the judge's perspective can forge a sense of rapport and facilitate smoother legal proceedings. Lawyers should strive to respond thoughtfully to the bench's inquiries and directives.

    Anticipate and Structure Responses

    In preparing for interactions with judges and arbitrators, lawyers should anticipate the types of questions that may arise and have structured responses ready. The key is to construct responses that are both precise and straightforward, enabling the legal professional to address the query without deviation or unnecessary elaboration. Such preparation signifies respect for the court's time and can help in maintaining the judge's interest and patience.

    Preparedness conveys competence and confidence, qualities that are crucial in presenting a strong case. Take time to rehearse your responses to likely questions before your next court appearance.

    Use Precise Legal Language

    A lawyer's mastery of the language of law can be a decisive factor in courtroom engagements, particularly with demanding judges or arbitrators. Experts in legal communication resist the urge to slip into colloquialisms or slang, which may not be well-received or even understood by the bench. Speaking the language of law fluently demonstrates professionalism and an understanding of the legal principles at play.

    Staying true to the terminology and phrasing appropriate to the legal setting can bridge gaps in understanding and align the communication with the expectations of the judiciary. Employ precision in your legal discourse and observe its impact on your courtroom exchanges.

    Focus on Logical Structure

    In complex legal disputes, attorneys are encouraged to concentrate on the logical structure and factual accuracy of their explanations. Elevating these aspects of communication ensures that arguments are delivered in a way that is both understandable and credible to the judge or arbitrator. Precision in presenting facts and organizing them in a logical sequence can significantly influence the persuasiveness of legal arguments.

    A clear and factual approach reduces the chances of misunderstandings and reinforces the attorney's reliability. Always strive to support your claims with facts and present them logically.