Legal Basics: Explaining Trial Procedures And Proper Behavior To Your Client

When you find yourself involved in a personal injury lawsuit you’re going to be fielding questions about the entire process. Personal injury lawsuits are hardly common events and most people outside of the legal profession only know them from daytime TV. However, there is a set structure and order to every lawsuit that you can simplify for your clients. What follows is a brief synopsis of one aspect, the trial itself.

Let Them Know The Timeline Can Change

Most clients aren’t aware of the fact a trial date isn’t a set in stone thing. Let them know ahead of time that outside events can affect a trial’s date. Make it simple and note that common events can cause delays. Things such as witnesses running late, likewise jurors, and in some cases even acquiring a courtroom to hold a trial at in the first place can cause a delay. By being aware that ‘things happen’ it can keep a client relaxed if things don’t go off 100 percent as planned. Just make them aware that, like all things, trial start times are not perfect.

The Process Can Be Slow Going

Even while in court not everything is arguing in front of the jury. Make the client aware that while the court appearance may only take a day all that other stuff can eat up a great deal more time. Give them a synopsis of what’s going on. Just by knowing about things such as meetings with the judge, briefings, motions, etc. the client becomes a whole lot more patient about the trial proceedings.

Juries Can’t Hear About Money

Make sure your client understands that in civil trials juries can’t hear about monetary figures. So nothing about settlements, non-binding arbitration, and the like. Also no mentioning the defendant’s insurance policy.

Keep Your Head Down

Lastly explain to your client that they can’t talk to witnesses or jury members even when the court is not in session. A simple rundown of basic court dress code and acceptable behavior can do your client a world of good.


As you know a trial is no small thing and the scope of the entire process is beyond what can be put into one article. But just by knowing how to explain the basics to you client you can help prepare them for what’s to come and start the lawyer client relationship off on the right foot.

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In his 20 years of law practice, Al has handled more than 40 jury trials. This experience, combined with a commitment to ethics and integrity, has earned Al an excellent reputation throughout the San Francisco Bay Area legal community. He is the recipient of Martindale-Hubbell‘s “AV” peer rating, which signifies preeminent legal ability and ethical standards, and has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2006. In 2009, Al was awarded the prestigious 2009 Civil Justice Award by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, given to attorneys who show integrity, grit, tenacity, ethics, and great advocacy skills, and who contribute to the betterment of consumers and/or injured victims and their families.


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