Los Angeles, CA commercial litigation attorney David Ribakoff talks about his philosophy as a lawyer, being successful in the courtroom and advice he repeatedly gives to clients.
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The philosophy that guides my work as a lawyer is really understand each client’s situation and issues, because when a client comes to me they’re usually in some sort of crisis situation and I have to recognize that and be both sympathetic and empathetic to what their situation is. But at the same time, dispassionate because they’re looking to me as a lawyer to give them practical advice to essentially help solve their problem and that’s sort of the approach I try to take with each client.
What it takes to be successful in a courtroom is really understanding the people that are inside the courtroom. I say that both generally but also specifically. Generally meaning understand that you’ve got a judge in front of you, you’re dealing with clerks, you’re dealing with potentially a jury and it’s really helpful to understand the particular judge that you have for a case, to make connections with the staff in the courtroom and ultimately to be comfortable so that when you go into court all you are thinking about is your case, the facts and the evidence and you’re not worried about your nerves or extraneous things that could interfere with a successful litigation.
One piece of advice that I repeatedly give to my clients is maintain the integrity of all of your documents. In every case there are e-mails, there are documents involved and oftentimes clients don’t understand that it’s their responsibility as a litigant or a potential litigant to preserve that evidence. It really could come to haunt you later on if you don’t. And so I try to really drum home the point of maintaining the integrity of your documents and your evidence so that you can help your own case.
I have to say the number one mentor in the practice of law for me was someone who I worked with early on in my career, his name was Paul Smith. This was when I was an associate at the large law firm I mentioned generically, but the name of it was Adams, Duque & Hazeltine. He was a partner at that law firm, and he really helped me become the lawyer that I am today. And the main thing that he taught me was the essential nature of practicing law with integrity and being forthright both with your clients and with the court and with opposing counsel. That will always help your case and always help your clients.