Since David covered trial prep
, I'm going to focus on the most exciting part of going to trial: examining witnesses and making submissions to the court. In reality, the vast majority of trials settle - whether on the eve of or just a few weeks before - so you don't get to experience the actual trial often. However, I lucked out and was asked to assist a lawyer who was going to trial on a file that was likely not going to settle.
I was allowed to conduct the direct examination of the policyholder who attended the scene of the accident.
Once in court, the lawyer introduced himself as the leading lawyer, and then in open court, introduced me, the student-at-law, who would be assisting. It was awesome. He did the opening, and the first examination of our insured and then handed the proverbial reins over to me. I was allowed to conduct the direct examination of the policyholder who attended the scene of the accident. Everything went (mostly) to plan, and I officially had my first real examination - transcript and everything.
The trial continued throughout the day, and we adjourned for 3 weeks. Naturally, I asked what else the lawyer needed help with. Along with updating the examinations, he advised that I was to choose between the cross-examination or the closing submissions. I was slightly nervous about cross-examining our colourful defendant and picked the closing. I was instructed to prep the submissions entirely and the lawyer would review to make any necessary changes.
On the morning of day two of the trial, he told me to do exactly what I prepared. I was so excited! Granted, I got a pretty silly case of shaky hands, but I did the entire closing, on my own. I set out for the court what evidence we called, the law we were relying on, what we wanted the judge to decide, and what we were looking for in terms of costs. I also answered the judge's questions, which actually went easier than I expected.
Although the whole experience was a great one, the icing on the cake was having the judge rule entirely in our client's favour! So, seven months into Articling, I now I have trial experience!