Early in John McDermott’s career, a senior lawyer gave him a tip on how to prepare for trial: The night before or morning of a court date, visualize the courtroom and how you will present yourself in a way that conveys that you “own” it. McDermott took that advice to heart.
“I do that literally every time before I walk into a courtroom,” said McDermott, who is a securities litigator with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Denver. “I just sit back and think (about) who’s going to be in that courtroom and what I want to convey.” Often, he ends up being what he describes as “professionally aggressive” in trial — calm but with an intensity that consciously stops short of “chest thumping.”
Demeanor is just one facet of McDermott’s planning for each day in court. When it comes to an argument or cross-examination, particularly, there’s no such thing as over-preparation.
“My view is you can’t practice enough,” he said. “I’ve found that if you are tremendously prepared, you then have the confidence to not worry about the facts and the law but think about how (you are) speaking in a way that keeps the judge and the jury interested.”