Lessons from Simon Rifkind Part One


As a young lawyer wanting to be a trial lawyer I read Simon Rifkind. Mr. Rifkind was a Wall Street lawyer and partner in the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind. He was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, as Federal Judge, Southern District of New York, where he served from 1941-1950. He voluntarily left the federal bench because he was bored by poor lawyering which he found the rule rather than the exception.

Mr. Rifkind’s passion was trying cases. He was a pure trial lawyer-a renaissance lawyer- in that he immersed himself into a new field for most of his trials.  He did this to grow in new areas. This allowed him to learn about life by trying cases.

Once a case gets to trial Simon Rifkind believes the same dynamics take place. These are the dynamics of trial. To Rifkind a trial is a play. There is a hero (usually his client) and a villain (usually the opposition). The jury is the audience, the judge, lawyers, and witnesses are actors. The lawyer has a unique position as he is both an actor and the producer of the play. Rifkind teaches trials like plays must have a theme. The theme should announce the client’s cause with the ends of justice. The audience will find a way to apply the law so the hero wins and justice prevails.

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3 Responses to “Lessons from Simon Rifkind Part One”

  1. Sylvia Hamlin says:

    This is impressive, I am gonna put this in the bookmarks before I lose the url, I don’t think I’ll ever find my way back again otherwise!

  2. […] Simon Rifkind. All trials are plays. Cast your client as the hero. If client must be the villain cast as a lovable villain. Judge trials are the same as jury trials except judge is a sophisticated theatre goer. Never waive opening statement. […]

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