Christopher M. Neilson, Esquire, a lifelong resident and native of Broward County, is the Chairman of the Broward County Bar Association Bench & Bar Committee. As a practicing attorney for over 15 years, Mr. Neilson suggests the following simple techniques to remember when appearing in court, whether as an attorney or party:
* 1) Be punctual! There is nothing worse than getting off on the wrong foot by being late to court. Remember, early is on time and on time is late! It’s good practice to be in the courtroom when the Judge takes the bench!
* 2) Be prepared! Review your entire file before appearing in court. Have extra copies of case law and exhibits for the judge & opposing counsel. Give the Judge the opportunity to read the cases presented and do not speak until the Judge is ready to continue. Know what it is you are asking for, and be prepared with alternatives if you don’t get what you want. Be creative and practical. “Think outside the box!”
* 3) Be Polite. Extend simple courtesy. Treat everyone with respect. Ask, don’t demand. Don’t boss people around. Say “Thank You.”
* 4) Be Professional! Dress appropriately, and instruct your clients to do the same. Establish eye contact. Speak slowly, clearly, & loud enough to be heard.
* 5) Don’t interrupt! Speak when it is your turn.
* 6) Get to the point and know when to stop. When you get what you want, don’t ask for more. I’ve seen good case resolutions unravel when a party gets what they say they can live with, but then tries to get more.
* 7) Take the time to speak with opposing counsel prior to the hearing, and stipulate to areas you can agree on (e.g. a. known expert witness or jurisdiction where appropriate.)
* 8) Put your ego on the shelf.
(Chris Neilson can be reached at (954) 920-4529).�