People often ask me what it takes to be a successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. The answer is not simple. It requires more than just knowledge of the law. It requires more than having the ability to cross-examine witnesses on the stand. It requires more than having the ability to negotiate. It requires more than being charismatic. It requires more than being able to set forth strong arguments. It requires more than hard work. It requires more than empathy for your client. It requires more than perseverance.
The truth is to be a successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles; it requires all of these things.
To be a successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, you must be able to juggle all of the things I mentioned. It is no easy task. Many lawyers don’t have the personalities to be able to balance the substantive legal work with the humanistic side of the profession.
On any given day, my day goes something like this: I go to court and encounter a district attorney out for blood. Within a split second of meeting him or her, I have to make a snap decision on the best way to disarm her. It’s a tightrope walk. I’m not sure it can be taught. You either have the ability to do it or you don’t. I then have to go back to my office and pour over the discovery to find holes in the prosecution’s case. Once I’ve found what I’m looking for, I reach out to the prosecutor and push my agenda, all the while making them feel that we’re on the same team. I prepare for trial; practicing the questions I’m going to ask and statements I’m going to make. I take calls from clients, all of whom are deeply concerned about losing their freedom. It’s not enough to act like I care. To be a successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, you have to actually care. Empathy is not an act. It requires you to feel what the other person is feeling. It’s the only way I know how to effectively do my job.
A sharp legal mind is also a prerequisite for being a successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. To put on a successful defense, knowledge of the law is a must, as is the ability to illuminate evidence so that the DA, judge, and jury can clearly see what you want them to see. It requires a comprehensive knowledge of the facts of the case, as well as the elements of the crime.
Finally, how you present yourself is key to being a successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. The saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is accurate. People remember how well you are put together. It’s human nature. I pride myself on always making a positive impression when I meet people by making sure they way I dress, walk, talk, and interact with others are impeccable.
I hope I have shone some light on what it takes to be an effective and successful criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. Thank you for your time.