Today it is tougher than ever for young aspiring litigators to get hands on in court experience. More and more young litigators are becoming litigation partners having never tried a case let alone first chair it.
Litigator used to mean trial lawyer, now it means litigator. The Catch-22 of today's litigation environment - cases are so big the clients and the situations demand that senior lawyers handle the critical in court aspects of big cases, few cases are tried and little cases are even less likely to be tried.
It even afflicted my generation. While my firm - a mid-size firm - took on smaller matters just so that we could get trial experience and I volunteered for any case that was likely to go to trial ( I tried a defective wood deck case, a defective kitchen linoleum case etc.), most private litigation associates - particularly those in large firms - got no trial experience. Most of them didn't even get to take depositions until they were senior associates "let alone try cases. As a result, many became "litigation" partners without ever trying a case.
It is even worse today. Why? Because now it is accepted in most firms that "litigation" partners may never try a case. But this is a real deficit for anyone who is serious about being a litigator. If you don't know how it is to actually try a case, you are at a distinct disadvantage as a litigator.
The best litigators prepare every case - even if they think that they are going to get it dismissed - with the assumption that it is going to be tried. This approach causes one to shed the unnecessary and focus on the necessary.
But if you haven't tried cases then you don't have a clue about how to prepare a case for trial. The two go hand in hand.
Those who have trial experience are going to be a rare breed and under the law of supply and demand, those of you who want to have a leg up on your competition should get thee to a courtroom.
If your current firm won't provide you with this experience, start looking for some place that will. Those who do - who take the risk of forging their own career path - will achieve personal and professional autonomy while at the same time will have the confidence of knowing that they know the score when it comes to this thing called litigation.