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Getting in the Right Mindset Before Court: 5 Tips

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

It's the morning of your first big hearing. They didn't prepare you for this in law school -- how could they? Nonetheless, you feel a crippling pain in your gut borne of nervousness and a near-certainty that you will botch something when you step in the courtroom.

We all have these moments of self-doubt. The key is finding a routine that helps you to move forward. Though every person's calming influences vary, here are a few things I do before the "big events" that help me to get into my ideal state of mind: calm on the outside, yet mentally pumped on the inside.

5. Find the Right Tune

For me, the ultimate tune for getting pumped up before anything, from college finals that I crammed for, to bar exams that I crammed for, to court hearings that I didn't cram for (procrastination: it's not a problem until it affects others), was the Notorious B.I.G.'s Victory. It has a boxer's entrance music feel to it, plus slowly crescendoing aggressive lyrics.

Or, if I feel the need to relieve some tension, I'll pump up a Taylor Swift song and sing at full volume.

Whatever works, right?

4. Eat Something

We'd recommend something light and unlikely to upset your stomach. You don't want a rumble in the jungle, or a food coma, right as you step into the courtroom, but you do need calories for your brain to work properly.

As for caffeine, this really depends on you. I have a coffee dependency issue, so I can't function without a cup or two. If coffee makes you jittery or nervous, skip it.

3. Take a Long, Hot Shower

I'm at my best when I'm physically calm, and mentally wired, hence the loud music and caffeine. Calm on the outside, hyped on the inside. The best way to achieve this is to have a long, hot shower or a soak in the bathtub.

2. Embrace Superstition

Have a pair of lucky socks? How about a lucky coin? Perhaps you have a group of German nuns praying for you before every major life event. Whatever it is, there's no reason to change things up now.

Besides, a little superstition can be a healthy, calming influence, and often acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ever hear of the placebo effect? It applies to that hideous tie you've been wearing to every trial since 1983 as well.

1. Be Prepared

The surest way to flop in court is to go in completely unprepared. Review your briefs, the opposition's briefs, and if the matter warrants the extra preparation, consider holding a mock argument with coworkers. During prep, prepare a short crib sheet of the important points and citations. Review that on the morning of the hearing, and bring it with you, just in case.

Do you have a superstition or routine of your own that you'd suggest to the nervous new lawyers amongst use? Give us hand on Facebook or Twitter.

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