What Judges Really Want Lawyers To Know
Elizabeth J. Hampton | Fox Rothschild LLP
February 23, 2015
Last month, at the annual conference for the Burlington County Bar's Equity Committee, I had the privilege of being a panelist alongside judges from the Burlington, Atlantic, and Gloucester vicinages. One of the highlights of the conference took place as the judges opened up about what they would like lawyers who appear before them to know. Some of their comments are obvious for sure, yet they serve as important reminders to lawyers and clients alike.
As the judges relayed their thoughts on this very important topic, I did my best to write down every comment. Let me fill you in on what was said:
1. Be prepared and be on time.
2. Do not call your adversary or a member of the court staff by their first name.
3. Stand when speaking and addressing the Court.
4. Always seek consent from your adversary before asking the Court to extend a time period or adjourn a motion.
5. Be a "problem solver" not a "problem creator."
6. Do not file a "sur reply" without seeking permission from the Court.
7. Remember that Rule 1:6-2 requires a good faith effort to confer in an effort to resolve issues before getting the Court involved. One judge commented that younger lawyers in particular have attempted to circumvent the rule by sending an email and not actually "conferring" as required.
8. Clients should carefully review the certifications submitted to the Court. Yes, judges notice when you submit a separate non- original certification page. Given that judges rely heavily on these documents, make sure that your client reads and understands every word. Utilize tabs with your certification exhibits to facilitate the court's review.
9. Be honest. One judge commented that he can pick up pretty quickly when a lawyer "fudges" the truth. Don't be a "fudger" because the judge will remember you- and not in a good way.
10. Answer the question that the judge asks you. This will help you from being viewed as a "fudger." It is tempting to divert a judge's attention away from questions you don't want to answer. However, if you do so, the judge may assume the answer is even worse than it may be and your credibility is compromised.
Whether you are mentoring young lawyers, or are looking for ways to improve your own skills, these top ten tips from our New Jersey judiciary provide simple guidance for a better practice and an enhanced reputation before the Court.
The content of this article is intended to provide general information and as a guide to the subject matter only. Please contact an Advise & Consult, Inc. expert for advice on your specific circumstances.