Preparation Saturation: Can You Ever Be Too Prepared?
The age old quote about success being partly inspiration but mostly perspiration rings as true today as it did when Thomas Edison strung those words together.
For lawyers, and especially trial lawyers, being over-prepared can bring peace of mind. But, if you perspire too much, you could fall victim to preparation over-saturation and end up like those poor folks suffering from Search Overload Syndrome. Below, you'll find a couple tips on why you might want to avoid going overboard with your preparation.
Sleeping Is Preparing
While some folks might think that there's no such thing as being too prepared, there definitely comes a point at which you just have to stop and trust that you've done what you need to do to prepare. Generally, the amount of time it takes to prepare a case is directly proportional to the amount of time you have, and organizing that time is incredibly important.
Pulling all-nighters in the days leading up to trial might make your trial binder a masterpiece of trial prep that legal scholars will study for ages, but you're kidding yourself if you think giving up sleep to prepare is a good idea. In fact, sleep is an incredibly important part of preparation, particularly since sleeping helps you process the information you've learned into your memory (unfortunately, you can't bill for snoozing though).
Whether you are prosecuting or defending, in civil or criminal court, your preparation should be focused on proving your case. This doesn't mean you should avoid preparing to rebut the other side's arguments, but it does mean that you need to exercise discretion in deciding how much time to devote to potential damage control, especially after discovery closes.
All trial lawyers know that asking a witness a question you don't already know the answer to is about as safe as lighting a campfire in a gas station parking lot. You can't prepare for the unknown, so trying to is not likely to be effective. But, if you've prepared your case, deposed the right witnesses, reviewed all the discovery and trial exhibits, and are well rested, when you do get surprised by the unknown, you can use those trial lawyering skills to think on your feet.
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