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With "The Hunger Games" currently tearing up the box office, it's easy to pass the movie off as a simple teenage popcorn thriller. But lawyers can actually learn some choice practice lessons from the film.
The movie takes place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world and centers around a young girl named Katniss Everdeen. She volunteers to take her sister's place in the annual "Hunger Games," a competition where teenage children fight to the death until only one remains.
Sounds a lot like life as a trial lawyer already, huh? Surprisingly, the film sheds a lot insight on how to deal with opposing counsel.
Before you continue reading, note that there'll be some spoilers in this post.
In the film, Katniss is tough as nails. She shows her skills early on in archery and her one-on-one verbal repartee with Haymitch, her mentor. This makes her a target for the competition, but it also lets them know she's the real deal.
Being a trial lawyer requires much of the same abilities. You have to look the part and be the part. Instead of archery, your ability to command language and the law are your main weapons. In trial, your confidence will be what shows to the judge and jury. And it can even throw your opponents off their game.
Katniss starts out the game with no friends. She has an ally of sorts in Peeta, but he proves largely useless until much later on. When Katniss is chased up a tree by the teens from District 1, she eventually forms an alliance with Rue. Rue tips Katniss off to a hornets' nest that she uses to kill one of the competitors. Without Rue's help, Katniss could very well have been killed.
Trial lawyers have to be able to make allies. The attorney community is smaller than most of us think, and word travels fast when someone is hard to deal with. Friends can sometimes be the only thing protecting your reputation while also allowing you to get your way.
Katniss didn't go after her competitors right away. She instead sought to survive and only kill when she had to.
Trial lawyers can learn from this example. Not by killing, of course. But rather they don't need to always go out guns blazing. A few choice words in the middle of a heated trial debate can sometimes be enough to sway a judge or jury in your favor.
Pick and choose your moment, that's the lesson. "The Hunger Games" commands it trial lawyers.
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