Your first day in court is a big day and a significant step in your career, so it’s normal for it to seem daunting. A courtroom is a highly formal environment and should be approached with the right mindset and preparation. Before appearing in court for the first time, it’s vital to appear calm, confident and prepared for the proceedings.
When it comes to navigating your first day in court, preparation is critical. There are many aspects to consider leading up to the day, such as rules, formalities, court-appropriate attire, and the stresses that come with legal environments. Once you get the first time out of the way, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect, and the mystery factor is gone, which tends to cause a great deal of anxiety.
If you’re worried about your first day in court, you’re most definitely not alone. Fortunately, we’re here to help with a simple yet effective guide for preparing for your first day in court.
Preparing for your first day in court (be organised!)
Our first piece of advice for preparing for your first day in court is precisely that, prepare. You must be as organised as humanly possible, and then some. This means you need to ensure that you have everything you will require while in the courtroom, such as necessary paperwork and case documents, which will need to be organised in a way that’s clear and accessible at a moment’s notice.
Also, prepare a ‘care package’ for your day(s) in court, which includes water, light snacks, and anything else that’s appropriate to consume in court. A lack of energy can lead to fatigue, frustration and difficulty concentrating. Not ideal in a courtroom environment. Of course, another key aspect of preparation is a good night’s sleep. Additionally, it’s a good idea to practice with a colleague or friend — going through your lines essentially.
This goes without saying, but you must be dressed appropriately for court. Failing to do so comes across negatively as it looks like you don’t have respect for your court, which will instantly put you at a disadvantage. A successful lawyer is someone who both respects and is respected by their peers. Of course, your attire will differ depending on the nature of the case and the type of court. For example, barristers
can wear smart clothing such as a suit, whereas in other scenarios, there’s a strict ruling that barristers wear a traditional robe and wig.
It’s your responsibility to do your research beforehand and ensure you don’t arrive underdressed or overdressed for the occasion. A lack of preparation in this regard can convey the message that you are unprofessional. Once you have a clear idea of what you should wear on the day, it’s vital to find a reliable business that specialises in legal attire.
Dealing with stress and anxiety
While experienced legal professionals no doubt have their own methods of dealing with the stresses of a court appearance, you’re a newbie! If you’re feeling anxious or genuinely fearful of your first day in court, you’re not the first, and you definitely won’t be the last lawyer to feel that way. Although this factor will improve with time and experience, you need to be proactive before your first day in court. Everyone is unique; therefore, there’s not a one size fits all approach to stress management.
Of course, our first suggestion is a good night’s sleep the night before to make sure you’re fresh and ready for what’s ahead. For some, exercise is a great way to blow off steam and release some endorphins. For others, a relaxed evening with a book or podcast perfectly suits their needs. As an individual, it’s vital to find ways to deal with stress and efficiently recharge your batteries. Not just for work, but your quality of life in general.
Again, something you should already have in the bank, but it’s worth refreshing yourself of the formalities of the courtroom environment. Whether it’s how you interact with the jury, opposing legal teams, witnesses or the judge. Although we listed the judge last, they are by no means the least of your concerns. In fact, your interactions with a judge can play a pivotal role in how you and your team are perceived. Here are a few quick tips for addressing the judge appropriately:
- You should stand up when the judge enters the courtroom. Do not sit until the judge tells everyone to sit. If you’re unsure, just copy what everyone else does, as there will be more experienced pros in the room.
- Address the judge in the appropriate manner – ‘your honour.’
- Speak clearly and direct. Don’t mumble; if you stumble or stutter, ensure you restart your sentence for clarity. Also, avoid slang or jargon unless it’s relevant to the case.
- Never, we repeat, never interrupt the judge. Even if you disagree, wait your turn.
- Don’t get emotional. If you become angry, frustrated, or the case doesn’t go your way — handle it like a professional and conduct yourself appropriately.
Our final tip… Enjoy yourself! Yes, it’s a big day and a huge step in your career, but it’s always important to enjoy experiences such as this. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t take it seriously, but it’s ok to be excited and enthusiastic about your first day in a courtroom. Excitement and enthusiasm are fantastic for gaining confidence and taking the pressure off. And when you’re feeling less stress, you’ll likely perform better on the day.
Are you preparing for your first day in court and want to ensure you have everything you need? Evess is a leading courtroom attire supplier and has everything needed for your first day in court. Check out our products online or get in touch if you have any questions.