What makes for a good litigation lawyer? – Canadian Lawyer

Lawrence E. Ritchie

Oct 19, 2021

What are the top traits of a highly effective litigator? While it’s important to choose someone with a successful track record and strong knowledge of the rules of evidence, there are less tangible characteristics that are also important, says Larry Ritchie, a partner in Osler’s Litigation.

In a recent article, Canadian Lawyer magazine senior editor Elizabeth Raymer spoke with Larry about what makes a good litigation lawyer.

“A good litigator needs to empathize with their client’s situation,” Larry says. “They have to see things from their client’s point of view, and to understand not just the legal implications of the problems that they have, but also their overall non-legal needs and how they intersect.”

Second, he says, “a good litigator also has to have the capacity to understand the other side of the story; being a fierce advocate, but still understanding why the other side feels so intensely about the correctness of their position.”

Finally, a good litigator must be a good communicator and able to distill complicated feelings, emotions and situations “into a very understandable bite-size narrative, so that a judge or jury can understand it and can relate to it.”

Larry noted that there is no one-size-fits-all for the type of litigator best suited to a particular case.

“Some litigators are ferocious combatants, and certain cases require a tough stand; other cases require a softer and more empathetic touch to allow the court to understand the equities of the situation,” he notes.

“When someone’s looking for a litigator they should understand the type of dispute it is and ultimately the message and the signal they want to convey to the judge or the jury: either a bulldog type of type of approach, or someone who can … be helpful to the trier of fact, to be able to allow the judge or the jury to come to that ‘right decision.’”

Read the full article on Canadianlawyermag.com.