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Former Chief Judge visits VSU

Ellesia Thurmond
Staff Writer

Former Chief Judge of the Southern Judicial Circuit H. Arthur “Mac” McLane visited students in University Attorney Laverne Lewis Gaskins’ Trial Advocacy class who had listened to McLane’s lecture Trial Advocacy: Reflections from the Bench.
McLane started his lecture by giving a brief discussion of what he would discuss, such as the process of a trial how a jury is selected, how to go into trial and the presentation of elements, and he told the difference between civil and criminal law.
“TV judges do horrible damages to the legal system; TV is wonderful entertainment, but the problem is too many people don’t realize it is entertainment and not reality,” McLane said.
McLane goes on to discuss trials, describing them as civilized combat, a contest between the two sides. To conduct civilized combat, you must know how you go about doing something and have tactics.
“There is no such thing as being too prepared,” McLane said.
One must be absolutely certain they have everything possible to be equipped to handle anything that might come up.
In the legal profession, preparation is absolutely necessary.
To properly prepare, a lawyer would interview all witnesses, research all laws, think about all the questions they could possibly ask and ensure they had an answer to any question that could possibly be asked.
Preparation is absolutely critical to a litigation lawyer, to cover everything there possibly is to cover and anticipate everything possible there is to anticipate.
Some preparation steps a lawyer would take before trial would be: prepare client for trial, Interview witness(es), rehearse what they will say in front of the Jury and Judge.
As important as it is to research and know your information it is equally important to be very aware of the way you dress. Lawyers should dress professionally in generally neutral conservative cuts.
“The idea is to look like you have some good sense and a good position,” McLane said. One must also train themselves to mask bad body language and project good body language. Once you have the appropriate attire, and have rehearsed your client and acquainted them with the court, you then train them to use body language. Remain poker-faced and still to make sure everything goes steady.

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