Larry Smith
Trial Mentor

What We Do
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Few litigators handle more than a small handful of cases each year that go before a jury. Some may only handle two to three in their entire careers.

Having a trial mentor who knows the ropes can make the difference between a win and an embarrassing loss.

I know. I’ve been there.

Larry Smith, Esq.

Early in my law career I began to learn the ins and outs of trial work, handling civil and criminal cases. I also had the honor of serving as a county judge and circuit court judge in Florida.

After leaving the bench, I spent 25 years in private practice, primarily as a civil trial lawyer. In 2006, I took the position of deputy county attorney for Volusia County and headed the trial section of that office. As lead trial attorney, I took numerous personal injury damage cases, inverse condemnation and civil rights litigation. For a brief sampling of more recent jury and non-jury trials where I served a lead trial lawyer, click here.

I have been published numerous times and, for 20 years, presented mock trial demonstrations for the Florida Bar Trial Advocacy Course.

Each time I went to trial, each time I presented for the Bar, each time I mentored another attorney, I learned more about the nuances of the art and science of trial.

And I hope to work with you to help make you a better attorney.

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How Trial Mentoring Works

First, understand that I’m not part of a large firm of legal mentors. You get me. My experience. My expertise.

I’m not offering a weekend seminar, a webinar, a book or a two-hour refresher course. What I’m offering is a chance for you to tap into my experience of more than four decades on both sides of the bench.

To me, mentoring a lawyer through a case is like being a player-coach. I’m with you in preparation, discovery, hearings, jury selection, and, if needed, in the courtroom helping you try the case.

Whether you’d like to sharpen your present skills or are new to the rigors of trial practice, I can help. Here’s a peek at what I’ve learned and what I’ll help prepare you for:

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Trial Preparation

Trial Preparation

My motto is, “Over-prepare, then go with the flow.” The first allows for the second. Something goes wrong in virtually every trial and strong preparation allows the advocate to “go with the flow” of the trial.

Discovery

Discovery

Those who aim at nothing are sure to hit it. You must have a theme and a target for your discovery, or you are wasting time and effort.

Hearings

Hearings

All I want is a fair advantage. That may sound trite, but whether it’s your motion or your response to the other party’s motion, incorporate the law that supports your position in the motion or response. You get one chance to educate the judge to your position. Do it in advance of the hearing; it’s a great advantage.

Voir Dire

Voir Dire

Ask open-ended questions. Listen carefully to the jurors as they answer. Look them in the eye. This is how you learn how they think.

Opening Statement

Opening Statement

You do not get a second chance to make a first impression. All too often, this is where the case is won or lost.

Direct Examination

Direct Examination

Why did you call this witness? If the witness doesn’t fit with the theme you created in discovery, don’t put them on the witness stand.

Cross-examination

Cross-examination

Review the Ten Commandments for Cross-Examination. Follow them.

Interaction with Judge and Opposing counsel

Interaction with Judge and Opposing counsel

We must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. This is a tough business. But judges and lawyers respect and appreciate people who can advocate with a professional style.

Closing Argument

Closing Argument

Nothing convinces like conviction. Believe what you are saying. Look them in the eye. Make them believe it.

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My job is to get you as prepared and confident as possible. We will evaluate every step in the process together. That’s the only way it works.

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Larry Smith, Esq.

Jury Trials Are Tough

Unfolding your client’s story in a compelling and authentic voice is one of the most important aspects of a jury trial.

You tell it with opening statements, closing arguments, direct examinations and cross- examinations, and with every objection and interaction you have with the judge and opposing counsel. Your demeanor, body language and tone of voice helps shape the story, and your ability to capture and hold attention is paramount to help a jury relate to your client’s experience.

And that gives you and your client the best opportunity to win.

Doing all that is tough. Preparing for it is even tougher.

That’s where I can help.

During my career I’ve served as lead counsel in dozens of high-profile jury trials and presided over more than 50 jury trials as a Florida Circuit Court Judge. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of what can happen in a courtroom – and I know how to help you present what’s best.

Whether you are seasoned in jury trials or only have occasional experience, having an experienced mentor’s help can be the difference in outcome.

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My Experience

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My goal is to make mentoring you as smooth as possible.

We’ll have an initial, no-obligation consultative call to determine that I’m a right resource for your trial needs. Once we agree to work together, we sign an engagement letter detailing services and compensation. I can travel to your location as needed, and we can schedule calls, video conference sessions and secure email communications. (My preference is to limit travel to locations in Florida or Georgia but would consider other locations if needed.)

I charge a flat fee based on the complexity of the case, plus reasonable travel cost  reimbursement.

Your client remains your client, unless I appear in court with you or take part in the actual trial of the case. At that point, according to Florida Bar regulations, I need permission from the client and the client is considered my client as well as yours.

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Let’s Start

Interested in learning how we can work together? Send me an email at larrysmith@trialmentoring.com requesting to schedule a call along with a general description of the trial you’re facing. Better yet, give me a call at 386-717-4558 at your convenience. Either way, I’ll get back to you quickly.

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A Favorite Quote about Trials

Trial by jury must be preserved: not as a mere formality, stripped of its discretion by arbitrary and inflexible rules dictated by the captains of commerce and industry for the furtherance of their own selfish interest, but free to search out and find the truly essential justice of each individual case.

J. Kendall Few

In Defense of Trial by Jury (1992)

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