When do you start to develop a case’s theme?

I remember this was my first mentor when I was in law school. He was the best trial lawyer I’d ever seen. And still to this day I’ve ever seen. His name was Dan Hoffman, he passed away. But he was saying the mistake that most young lawyers make is the night before the trial they’re doing legal research. He said no, the night before trial, work on your theme, work on your witness exams, work on the facts of the case. Cause the law is not going to change. The judge is going to help you out if you’re a young lawyer, and you’re really there on your first trial and you’re really unsupported. The judge is not going to, it’s the rare judge who won’t help you out with the law. Spend time working on the theme. I think if you can come up with a theme that explains your facts and also encompasses your bad facts, cause every case has them. Most cases, if they’re going to trial, I have about 50,50. It’s a horse race. If you can come up with a theme that explains in a coherent fashion that explains both side of the argument, then that’s where I start. 

Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.  

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