When the time comes for you to address that jury you must thoroughly understand each man. This is not that you may influence him, or “play upon” him, or resort to any of the devices of the baser sort. It is that you may know how best to get the truth of your case to him. How to get your theory, your cause, before each juror should be your only concern.
Never try to be “eloquent.” Never be funny. Wit may cause laughter, it never produces conviction. A joke may divert, it never persuades. It is unnecessary even to arouse a jury’s sympathies. Forget everything except making the juror understand your case. The result will be that he will understand your case, and if he understands it, and it is a case you ought to win, his understanding of it means that you will win it.
Take at least one excellent legal periodical. There are four or five “law” magazines published in America, some of them very good indeed. Do not pay any attention to the digests of cases with which some of these periodicals burden their pages, except to see if there is a recent decision on some case you are trying. You cannot remember them, and the effort to do so will only confuse. But you will usually find in each number one serious and profitable article, and possibly more, on matters of real interest to the profession. Read such articles very carefully.
The methods of scientific scholarship are now invading the law, and many of these legal essays are superb pieces of work. Now and then you will find a monograph of monumental worth. Such is the remarkable introduction to Stephens’ admirable work on “Pleading,” to which I have already called your attention.
That author’s demonstration of the value of forms, and his comparison of the Roman civil law with the English common law, is the most carefully thought out and learned piece of legal writing I can think of at this moment. It is as great as it is brief.
Take part in politics. I know that it is an ordinary saying that a lawyer should leave politics alone. It is not true. What right have you, a member of the great profession which, more than all other forces combined, has established and defended liberty, to withdraw yourself from active participation in the sacred function of self-government? You have no such right.
Of course you should not make politics your profession. That is fatal to your success in the profession of the law. It is one profession or the other, one love or the other. But take part in your party’s primaries. Make yourself so wise and useful that you will be an indispensable party counselor. By all means be a “factor” in your party.
As you value life itself, do not permit yourself ever to be made a lobbyist under the guise of general employment by a corporation or any other interest concerned in legislation. It is no doubt proper for a lawyer to make a legal argument before a legislative committee in behalf of clients. Nevertheless, I advise you not to do it. It is the first step toward the disreputable form of lobbying. There is, of course, perfectly proper and even necessary lobbying. But then you are a lawyer, are you not?