Court rooms can be similar to high schools. There is a dress code, albeit unspoken, and there are certain norms to be observed. One unspoken rule is that if an attorney stands out from the other lawyers as being different or out of the loop, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. This is one reason to hire counsel who is knowledgeable about the inner workings of local courts. Here are four more:
Local Counsel Will Most Likely Know the Judge
Believe it or not, it really is important for your lawyer to know the judge, and for the judge to know your lawyer. This is why local lawyers invest their time in going to bar functions and judicial receptions and by serving on committees. The knowing nod of the judge when your local counsel walks into the courtroom is like the judge saying, “I know you,” and “You are part of our community.” Having a relationship with the judge can be very helpful for the lawyer and his/her client.
Local Counsel Knows the Local Rules
There are federal rules governing federal courts. There are state rules governing state courts. And, yes, there are local rules for each individual court. Certain judges even have their own rules. If you hire local counsel, chances are, he/she will have a deep understanding of the local rules. This serves both the client and lawyer in the long run.
Local Counsel Knows How the Court Papers Should Look
Court papers in each local state or federal court are different depending on the state you are in. In New York State Court, for example, lawyers affix blue covers to their pleadings which is called a “blue back.” Without the “blue back,” the Clerk of the Court will not accept your papers for filing. In California, the court papers are arranged in a certain style in which the counsel’s name appears on the upper left-hand corner of each court paper. These may sound like miniscule details, but if your court papers in California do not have your name in the upper left-hand corner, guess what? Your lawyer will be wasting time trying to get the paperwork accepted after the courts have denied them.
Local Counsel Knows Local Lore
Though this may sound strange, there is law (or lore) that only local counsel knows about. It is not written in the casebooks, cannot be found on Westlaw, and it is not reported anywhere. Local counsel knows these stories by sitting in the judge’s courtroom and watching the judge. All day long, judges make unreported rulings. These are rulings that no one knows about — except your local counsel. A good local counsel may be sitting in the courtroom, in front of your judge, listening, watching, and taking notes, ready to report back on relevant developments that may affect your case. Local counsel will know that “Judge Smith doesn’t like discovery motions.” He or she will know that “Judge Jones doesn’t think very much of motions to dismiss.”
So, when you are litigating in Florida, just like any other state in which you may not be familiar with the legal process, it pays to hire local counsel like us who excel in litigation and understand the inner workings of Florida courts and have rapport with Florida judges.
About the Author
Roger Slade is a partner with the Miami law firm of Haber Law. Throughout his 28 year career, Mr. Slade has handled all types of litigation matters including business fraud, class-actions for both Plaintiffs and Defendants, real estate litigation, privacy litigation, commercial collection matters, employment discrimination claims, general business disputes and international family law matters.