Elissa Haynes: Organizing Your Case For Trial

Episode Synopsis: When Elissa Haynes first moved from insurance defense work to trial work, the Atlanta partner knew she’d need a solid framework to build each case. In this episode, Haynes shares how she organizes everything from the discovery stage to the closing statement. She also explains how preparation can lead to an engaging case.

Podcast Transcript: The following is a transcript of Episode 19 of The Advocate’s Key podcast hosted by attorney Scott Key. Other episodes can be found at Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and Spotify.

Elissa: From an appellate standpoint, it’s not about the show, it’s not about who impresses the jury more or who the jury likes more. And so at the appellate level, it really is who has the better argument, who’s smarter, and who’s more creative, who took the law and made something into it, or who establishes new law. I mean, that’s what we do on appeal. We want to create new law sometimes. So I think it takes a different type of thinking and creativity and going down rabbit holes. And that’s the part that I really, really love.

Scott: I first met Elissa Haynes when she appeared virtually at the Georgia appellate practice and procedure class that I teach with Judge Dillard. She was one of the panelists that we had in a class including several panelists who I respect. I had not met Elissa before, but I knew from her discussion of how she organizes her case summaries to prepare for court and to keep a general body of knowledge at hand for the subjects that she works on, I wanted to have Elissa on the podcast. And she was a fantastic guest.

And the portion of the show that you just heard, she talks about why she loves appellate law, how it’s a form of creativity that is at many levels authentic, and how winning the day doesn’t come from putting on a good show or doing theatrical things to impress judges, but how the craft of appellate law is distinct from trial law. And yet, Elissa really taught me a lot about trials as well. Elissa cost me a lot of money from this podcast. I went out and purchased an app and a subscription based upon a recommendation that she made. But for the practitioner of appellate law or the practitioner of trial law, this is a great podcast, just full of great wisdom. I really liked having Elissa on the podcast and I think you’re gonna enjoy this podcast as well. So I give you Elissa Haynes. Elissa, it’s so good to have you on the podcast.

Elissa: Thanks for having me.

Scott: I don’t think we’d really met before you spoke to our appellate practice class last week, but I made it a point to reach out to you because I wanted to talk to you some more on the podcast. So I appreciate you doing this, particularly on such short notice.

Elissa: Yeah, absolutely.

Scott: Well, something that I always ask every podcast guest is to just introduce themselves, and I ask it in the form of a question that could be just very informational or is philosophical as you’d like it to be, which is who is Elissa Haynes?

Elissa: I am a Partner at a firm in Atlanta doing primarily insurance defense work on the trial side, as well as the appellate side. I am also the President of the Young Lawyers Division and the Chair of the Georgia Defense lawyers, Amicus Committee.

Scott: Gotcha. And before that, I mean, I think you’ve also been on the plaintiff’s side some.

Elissa: I was. So I did plaintiff’s work for about four years and then switched over to the defense side. I wanted to get more trial experience. I was kind of in volume plaintiff firms. Felt more like a glorified claims adjuster, and really wanted to start doing appeals and to start trying some cases. So when I switched over, I got, you know, my first jury trial within six months on the defense side.

Scott: So let me ask you this, and I’m gonna go kind of far back on this. I see that you received your law degree from…From was it? From Loyola? I never know how to pronounce Loyola. I can’t say that.

Elissa: Yeah. Loyola, New Orleans. Yeah.

Scott: And did you grow up in New Orleans or grow up in Louisiana?

Elissa: No, my dad’s from New Orleans.

Scott: Ah, okay. Did you grow up in the south?

Elissa: I am from East Cobb, Marietta, Georgia.

Scott: Ah, Okay, great. Well…

Elissa: I don’t like to tell people that though, it has a bad reputation.

Scott: It’s just East Cobb has changed a lot in the last five years or so.

Elissa: Yes. Yes.

Scott: Well, what made you decide to be a lawyer?

Elissa: Actually, that’s an interesting story. When I was very, very young, my dad lost his arm in a…He went to the hospital for back pain and he got an IV. The IV got infected and they ended up amputating his arm. Never should have happened. That led to a medical malpractice claim against the hospital in New Orleans. At the time, it was the largest medical malpractice verdict that the City of New Orleans had seen for a left arm or for any arm amputation. And the attorney that represented my dad is actually still a close family friend who I worked for in law school. But that whole experience and process led me to want to go into a career in plaintiff’s law, which is why that’s where I started.

Scott: What was it about the experience? Because it seems like a lot of times people that go through litigation like that, the last thing they ever wanna do is be around lawyers or, you know, be in the litigation system again. What was it that was inspiring about? I mean, it’s a real tragedy obviously, but what was so inspiring about that process or the people you met there?

Elissa: Right. And I was, I was a baby. I was too young to understand it at the time, but you know, looking back and after speaking to, you know, my dad about it, speaking of the attorney about it, just having somebody realizing the importance of having somebody fight for you and believe in you. And you can’t really put a dollar value on that. I mean, my dad was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines. He was also a college basketball referee and losing an arm, you know, prevented both of those things. It took away his entire life livelihood. So it really made me want to kind of help fix the system. And, you know, I did that for a few years and realized that wasn’t for me, the type of plaintiff volume work that I was doing, but it still led me to where I ultimately am. And I’m very grateful for that.

Scott: So you worked in a plaintiff’s firm when you were in law school in New Orleans and for the same lawyer that was a family friend and represented your father. What was that plaintiff’s practice like? What was it like being a law student sort of doing that kind of work while you were in law school?

Elissa: Yeah, they actually did both. They did some plaintiff work and some defense work. I think they obviously took my dad’s case because they were friends from high school. But most of the stuff I was still doing on that side was more defense-oriented. It was just a lot of research, a whole lot of research. And I remember they were using, it wasn’t Word, Microsoft Word. It was like WordPerfect. And I remember thinking like, “What in the world is this?” It was so old school and antiquated and I did not know how to use it. I was like recording my time on paper, but it was my first experience, you know, in an actual law firm setting. So it was kind of all I knew. I had clerked for the public defender’s office in Athens when I was in college at Georgia. But other than that, you know, those were my first two kinds of exposures to practicing law, so to speak.

Scott: You know, funny thing about WordPerfect, particularly with Judge Dillard. Judge Dillard and I think the judges at the Court of Appeals in Georgia use WordPerfect still.

Elissa: I had no idea. That is interesting.

Scott: Yeah. If you look at…

Elissa: I’m gonna talk to them about that.

Scott: Oh, look at Judge Dillard’s Twitter Feed and you’ll see how often people troll him about using WordPerfect.

Elissa: Well, I’m gonna start trolling him about that now.

Scott: Oh yeah. It’s fun to troll Judge Dillard about WordPerfect. But yeah, so it’s still around and I know the Court of Appeals is all about WordPerfect in Georgia.

Elissa: I had no idea. I didn’t even know it still existed. Very good. It’s good to know.

Scott: I think maybe their sole client is the Georgia Court of Appeals or maybe their sole client is Judge Dillard. I don’t know what the case may be there.

Elissa: I love it. I love it.

Scott: So you left, you got outta law school and obviously, you went to work doing PI work or, and it sounds like it was just a volume practice and you were just kind of, I guess, talking to adjusters all the time or something like that.

Elissa: That is exactly right. I was settling claims. I was at a volume firm that, you know, at the time they didn’t have a litigation department. So if the case had to be litigated, it would go out to another lawyer. And so I wasn’t even getting courtroom experience. And so, you know, after X amount of years doing that, I was like, “I’ve got to get into the courtroom whether it’s doing a hearing or trying a case.” And so I had to leave and switch sides and that gave me immediate courtroom access.

Scott: So how long were you working as an attorney in volume PI work?

Elissa: Four years.

Scott: Okay. And then you left there and then you immediately…The firm that you’re in now, is that the one and only firm that you’ve done defense work for or have you been in multiple places since then?

Elissa: No. I was at one other firm for about five years where I started as an associate then made partner. And then I lateraled into my current firm as a partner. And so two defense firms.

Scott: So did you see yourself as becoming an appellate lawyer when you were in law school? Tell me a little bit more about how…I mean, because it sounds like you do a little bit of both, but it seems like you more identify as an appellate lawyer.

Elissa: Sure. Yeah. So law school’s definitely where I got the exposure to that. The way my law school does it at Loyola, is your first year you take legal research and writing the first semester and then you take moot court the second semester, and you do this you know, argue your, you know, fake case or whatever it is. And then certain students are selected from that argument to join the moot court teams. And then you’re placed on individual competition teams if you want to compete, which I did. So it was my 2L year, I was placed on the Tulane Sports Law Moot Court Competition where we argued the NFL StarCaps case.

And my team won the competition. The school had never won that one before. I don’t think. I won the award for best oral argument. It was a great experience. And then my 3L year, I wanted to tenure my involvement with it. So I ran for a board position, got on the board, and then coached the criminal procedure team in San Diego, which they also won first place. And then the Duberstein Bankruptcy Competition in New York, which they made it to quarterfinals. And that’s definitely what led me to want to do appellate work. And honestly, you know, people say law school doesn’t prepare you to be a lawyer. And I agree to an extent, but moot court is probably the only thing that prepared me for my real appellate oral argument.

Scott: You know, I talk about that all the time. I feel like mock trial was for me the thing that taught me the most about how to be a lawyer. And if you go over…If you ever ask me like what my most valuable class was ever, I’m gonna say it was a typing class I took in high school because it really helped me to prepare to write briefs and stuff like that. But it sounds like you…and right now, I’m not really sure. Are you doing only appeals? Are you doing some litigation at the trial court level as well?

Elissa: So I’m doing both. I have a trial actually starting as of right now on April 18th, and I do a lot of appellate work, and I also do work as embedded appellate counsel. So, you know, I’ll be brought in various stages by clients to work with defense counsel ideally from before the summary judgment stage and then all the way through trial to, you know, make sure error is preserved and things like that. And just for strategy purposes.

Scott: So when did you try your first case?

Elissa: I tried my first case in 2015.

Scott: And how long had you been out of law school at the time that you did your first case?

Elissa: About five years in.

Scott: Was that your first courtroom experience going in and trying that case from the beginning to the end? Or did you work into it by doing some motions beforehand?

Elissa: I was involved in the case from the…no, I don’t think the very beginning because the case had started before I already or long before I came to the firm. But, you know, I was still involved in some depositions and, you know, getting involved with the client and trial preparation. But it was definitely the first time that I, you know, tried a case. And I remember the partner that I was trying the case with said, “Okay, you’re gonna do voir dire.” And I was like, “I’m sorry, what?” And he was like, “You’re gonna do it.” I was like, “I don’t know how to do it.” He was like, “Exactly. You’ll figure it out.” It probably wasn’t pretty but I did it and I did that and maybe like, oh God, I can’t remember maybe like a direct of like one witness or something. And that was it. But that was my first.

I just remember being so incredibly nervous during voir dire because, funny story, the night before trial or two nights before trial, my eye swelled up. I had an allergic reaction to something, and I went to the emergency room and nobody could figure out what was wrong. And it went down before trial, but it was still a little swollen. So I kept winking. And I had to get up there and stand up there. And I said, “I promise I’m not winking at anybody in the audience. I’m just my eye. I have an eye issue.” And everyone starts laughing. And it actually ended up being like a perfect way to connect with the jury. So since then, I’ve started doing like little anecdotes like that to connect with them. Hopefully, my eye doesn’t swell up again though.

Scott: You wonder if it would’ve been even better, had you not told them. Like if you had just had them think that you were winking at them, and maybe that would’ve even been better?

Elissa: Oh my gosh, I had no idea. But they liked it. They liked it.

Scott: Well, to me, I think something like that probably humanized you to them. You know, it…

Elissa: Absolutely.

Scott: You know, they’re probably as nervous or close to as nervous as you are to even be there and to be asked questions by lawyers and the courtroom is probably a foreign place. So that probably broke the ice a little bit.

Elissa: I think so. And that’s kind of what I was taught. You know, as I’ve tried more cases, you know, I’ve been told the key is you do need to humanize not only, you know, your client but yourself and tell a story, tell a joke. Like jury selection shouldn’t be this monotonous process of just asking a series of questions. You wanna talk to them and get them to know you and you wanna get to know them too.

Scott: And how many cases have you tried in your career so far?

Elissa: I think I’ve tried seven or eight to verdict.

Scott: So you really at some point made the leap, obviously from taking a witness and doing voir dire to…when was your first solo trial, and what was that like?

Elissa: My first solo trial was, I guess, shortly before COVID. I was still at my old firm. So it was over two or maybe it was three years ago, even. I think it was the summer before COVID, and I tried two cases back to back, like one in July and one in August. And one of them, I wasn’t solo, but I brought an associate with me. But that was my first time that I kind of, I took lead on everything. You know, I did pretty much all of it except a few witnesses. And then the last one before COVID was truly solo. And that was just a very, very minor, you know, rear-end collision. We tried it in a day with six jurors, but the crazy thing about that one is that plaintiff’s counsel in that case prior to trial would not consent to a six-person jury. And so I knew because of that, there’s no way the trial would finish in a day. It would be at least a day and a half. So I did not prepare a closing argument.

And during the lunch break…Oh, no, sorry. Prior to right when we got started at trial, plaintiff’s counsel says, “Okay, I’ll agree to a six-person jury trial.” And I was like, “Uh okay.” Well, I was like, “Hopefully it still goes a day and a half because I don’t have a closing argument.” And I was like, “It’s fine. It’s fine. I’ll do it during lunch.” Well then during lunch the judge says, “Y’all need to meet and confer and figure out the jury charges.” And I was like, “I have to eat something or I’m gonna pass out. I also have to do the charges, and I have to figure out a closing.” So I had an associate come watch the trial. And I remember I threw this PowerPoint closing together. I got up and did it. I sat down and the associate goes, “Eh, wasn’t your best work?” And I was like, “You’re right. It wasn’t.” But I got a defense verdict, so I was fine.

Scott: Okay. So this is what I wanted to ask you about. When I was doing a little background to prepare to interview you, I saw that you’re actually featured in TrialPad’s like testimonial section. Was this the trial that you sort of ran the TrialPad and put it together using their application?

Elissa: The one before that. The one where I took lead, that was my first TrialPad experience, where the weekend before I remember…I know Darren Summerville’s been on your podcast. Darren’s the one who told me about TrialPad and I was like, “Huh, I don’t have an iPad, never heard of TrialPad. I’m gonna try it.” And I was like, “Is this a good idea to do the weekend before trial?” Probably not, but I did it, and I went to Best Buy, bought an iPad Pro, downloaded TrialPad, figured it out, and tried the case using TrialPad. And it was amazing. And ever since, I won’t go back to paper.

Scott: So when you go to court, are you doing all of your AV stuff with TrialPad? You’re not bringing in like the team and, you know, doing all that kind of stuff?

Elissa: I haven’t had a case where I’ve had to yet. If it’s a big case with thousands and thousands of documents, I probably will bring in a team. But for something that’s manageable, like if you’re just talking about, you know, a regular PI claim, you know, car accident case, I mean, I can do the…You know, I tech myself and I don’t need…I can save my client money and it’s just easier. I know how to work it. But otherwise, I’d probably still bring somebody in to do TrialPad or trial director.

Scott: Okay. So if you were gonna tell a…And I promise we’re gonna get to appellate stuff in a little bit, but I’m kind of, I’m fascinated with this quick learning curve to trial law. If you were gonna kind of speak to someone who had just made the switch and they were about to kind of launch into their first solo case, I’m curious what you did to…you’ve obviously done very well. What you did to get up to speed as quickly as you got up to speed to kind of learn the skills that you did to kind of even know how to prepare and come in and handle cases like that.

Elissa: I will be the first to admit I am a very OCD person. Very type A. My friends and family would all agree with that as well. So I cannot even tell you how many trial transcripts I read in their entirety. I would go sit in courtrooms and watch cases being tried. I would watch the “Courtroom Network TV” you know, big-name lawyers trying cases. I would watch all of those. I would email people for trial transcripts. And I would just read and watch as much as I physically could until I felt comfortable at least knowing the basic building block of what I’m supposed to say and what I’m supposed to do. And the thing with that is when I did that, you know, I would watch…I watched my partner at the time do the opening and he had this whole spiel and this theme.

And I remember my first opening, I tried to kind of emulate that, which was a big mistake because again, you can’t do what something…like, that worked for him. That doesn’t work for me. It’s just not me. So my advice to people would be, you’ve got to come up with your own ideas and your own style because what works for somebody else definitely might not work for you. But I think reading a bunch of trial transcripts and watching the trials and sitting in on them definitely helps. Because it not only shows you what to do, it shows you what you don’t want to do and what doesn’t work. So I think that’s, you know, how I kind of learned, and then just doing it more and more and more, you just kind of learn as you go.

Scott: Well, what are some things…I mean, I read a lot of transcripts and you know, I can certainly tell you what not to do when it comes to how you can wave issues that I’d like to raise, but I can’t. But beyond that, like what are some things that you…let’s kind of start with the don’ts. Like what are some things that you saw… And I know that we shouldn’t emulate anyone’s style. But in terms of what not to do, what are some things that you sort of saw that were recurrent when you were preparing or that you’ve seen doing litigation for the point that you have now?

Elissa: Yeah. I’ve seen, you know, a lot of people when they’re doing jury selection, just read from a little outline, barely make contact with the jury, and just ask a series of questions, not circling back on anything. You know, I think it’s called like the looping. You know, you say, “Miss Soandso said this. Mr. Soandso do you believe with Miss So?” Like you’ve got to engage them. I think that’s a big mistake when you don’t do that and when you don’t incorporate your trial theme into voir dire. In opening, I’ve seen people literally read off a piece of paper. That’s not effective. You’re not animated. You’re just reading a script. I don’t think that that is an effective way to open your case or to close your case.

And then I think, you know, with examining witnesses, whether it’s cross-exam or direct exam, again, being so reliant upon an outline that you are not even really listening to the answer the witness is giving because you’re so focused on getting to the next question. And some people just don’t wanna be thrown off that outline. It’s just like in a deposition, if you have…and I still make outlines for depositions, but I listen to what the opponent is saying because their answer might lead me somewhere completely different that’s not in my outline. And that’s fine, I’ll get back to it, but you’ve gotta be willing to go where your witness is going. So I think those are kind of the biggest mistakes that I’ve seen. And then I guess the other thing is people are scared to use technology. And one of the trials, it was my first trial with TrialPad where plaintiff’s counsel was using the, you know, old school Elmo, and was putting up pictures of the vehicle, the property damage on the Elmo. And you can’t enlarge things on the Elmo, so you couldn’t really see anything.

And so I get up there in my presentation, I’m using TrialPad. I zoom in and blow up the picture of the car. And I purposely like fumble around. I’m like, “Oh, this angle, this angle, you can’t really see the damage.” And I’m like, you know, just doing my thing, and the jurors loved the technology. So just like in appellate arguments, I use slides during my arguments. Don’t be scared to put pictures in briefs. Don’t be scared to use animations at trial and tech at trial. It might be scary at first, but I think the biggest mistake is not using it because people get bored and you need to engage them. I’ve seen so many jurors fall asleep. I saw plaintiff in one of my trials fall asleep during trial. I mean, he did get bored.

Scott: That’s bad. So let’s…

Elissa: Well, yeah, it’s worse when they get a lot of money and they still fall asleep.

Scott: Okay. So this is very interesting because on the one hand, when you would say that that you or anybody that knows you would describe you as type A. So when I hear type A that’s very much all about of preparation and you talk about how you read a lot of transcripts and watched a lot of proceedings. Vut you know, it’s interesting when you list out the things not to do the things, the things that you sort of learned not to do was not to be too canned, you know, not to give someone else’s style of opening. Not to come in with like a prepared script for your voir dire, not to read your opening. So it is interesting that you describe yourself as type A, but it seems like what you’ve learned is the value of spontaneity.

Elissa: Yes. So don’t get me wrong. I will still…I write out a script for everything. I write out a script for opening. I rehearse it like ad nauseam, but then I go off the cuff. And it’s the same thing I do with appellate arguments. Everything is perfectly scripted and outlined, but I practice it in my head to the point where I know it backward and forwards to where I can go off script and make it a candid conversation. So I still have to do the initial rigid, scripted part, which will allow me to then become unscripted because I have to do that process first to get myself in the zone with what I’m doing. And then I can kind of go off.

Scott: You have to be prepared enough to be spontaneous, it sounds like?

Elissa: Yes. Which it’s ironic, but yeah, that’s exactly right for me, at least.

Scott: So, you know, certainly on the plaintiff’s side, I mean, I suppose you’re not really billing by the hour. So however much time you wanna put into a case, you can put that much time into a case, but it sounds like maybe everything that you’re doing to prepare is not necessarily billable.

Elissa: I do bill it.

Scott: Okay.

Elissa: You know, my clients pay it, and I have great clients. Like I think I am lucky in the respect that I have a book of business that is my own. I built myself and I love my clients and I am so grateful for them. And they’re good clients in that they do understand that everything I do has a purpose and they don’t just arbitrarily cut my bills. So they’re not gonna come and tell me, “You spent too much time preparing for that trial that we ask you to try.” They understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. And I don’t think that’s the, you know, case with every carrier, but I’m lucky that it is with mine.

Scott: Say that you’ve got a trial coming up in a few months. What are the steps that you do to prepare? And what do you think it is about your preparation that maybe makes you unique among your colleagues?

Elissa: I think it starts, you know, when you get the case, I think it starts at the discovery stage. And one thing that I have done well I think from the defense side is just really dug very, very deep into non-party discovery. Whether it’s issues with medical doctors, litigation funding, attorney referrals, attorneys communicating with the providers, and just getting as much ammunition as possible at that stage to then form a story that, you know, for on my side, is this a manufactured claim? Is this a claim manufactured between the attorney and the doctor for profit? And so I think it starts early on and I think some people don’t spend…because it’s very, very time-consuming. And I always tell my clients, it’s going to be expensive at the discovery stage, especially when there’s attorney referral issues and funding issues involved. And they understand that. And I’ve done tons of presentations to them on that so they see the value.

But then, you know, once you do that, you know, you keep building up and you start thinking about what your theme is going to be early on. And as you’re taking depos, you try to build in that theme. And then I think, you know, the main part is doing really, really good motions in limine. I think a lot of people have a tendency to, especially if you’re at a big firm, you basically look at ones that were done by other attorneys and you copy and paste them. And it’s mind-blowing to see, I mean, some of those cases are so outdated or some people file motions in limine that say, “No reptile arguments.” What does that even mean? You know, a judge is gonna say like… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a defense motion in limine that says, “No reptile arguments.” And if I was a judge, A, I would deny it. And B, I’d probably mess with them and say, ‘What exactly do you mean by that?” Because its…

Scott: You don’t want the other side to talk about snakes? Like what would…

Elissa: Yeah. Like, yeah. I mean, but like, and I know what the reptile theory is, but you know, there’s case law now you’ve gotta be more specific in your motions of limine. You can’t just say, “No arguing about X.” Like it’s got to be a narrow issue. And I think some people are still so hyper-focused on how people practice law in the past. Like, you know, filing motions in limine as to no mention of liability insurance. No one’s gonna mention liability insurance. Like that’s something you can stipulate with at the beginning. Unless it’s a direct action case, I really don’t think you have to worry about that one.

Scott: It’s like a motion to make the other side follow the law. I mean, it’s almost that they’re not right.

Elissa: Right. Right. like filing a motion in limine saying, “You can’t introduce anything that hasn’t been exchanged in discovery.” Of course not. That’s already in your pretrial order. Don’t file a motion in limine on that. So I think it’s just really fine-tuning and being creative with your motions in limine. And then the other part that I think, at least I add value with, is doing the appellate work. I am more, I guess, qualified if you will, to preserve error for appeal and know the things I need to do, because sometimes when I get a trial transcript from an appellate client saying, “We need you to fix this on appeal.” I read it. And I’m like, “This is waved. I can’t do anything with that.” So I think that helps as well.

Scott: So I want to kind of circle back to the first thing. So you said three things. It was you putting a lot of emphasis on discovery in terms of the relationship among lawyers, in particular experts or maybe treating physicians. And the second one was a very good motions practice. And the third thing was kind of wearing the appellate hat during the trial and making sure that things were not waived. Kind of starting back with the beginning of those three things, say more about what you’re looking for. And I think I know what you’re talking about, and you see this in discovery requests quite a bit, but I don’t often see it very well developed. Say a little bit more about what you’re looking for in terms of the relationship between lawyers and potential providers, and whether a claim is manufactured.

Elissa: Sure. And I think everyone on the plaintiff’s side that is gonna listen to this is going to hate me and shame me, probably on LinkedIn social media, whatever. But you know, it’s true. And the problem is that there are a lot of attorneys out there who do have very strong referral relationships with providers and send their clients to providers, and these providers… And I don’t necessarily blame the lawyer or blame…I mean, of course, I don’t blame the plaintiff for it. But it’s the provider. And there’s a handful of medical providers. I’m not gonna name them, but that’s what they do. They charge egregious amounts that nobody would ever have to pay. And there’s a very good Eleventh Circuit case on this. Higgs versus Costa Crociere, which, you know, I can’t remember the exact language it uses, but it says, you know, these are just fake bills, essentially. They are amounts on paper that nobody was ever expected to pay.

And that’s the case with these providers. So as, you know, I started kind of getting knowledge of these certain providers when I was on the plaintiff side. And, you know, then I kind of got familiar with their practices and I used that knowledge to do targeted non-party requests on the defense side. And as I kept getting more and more information, I started knowing, “Okay, this provider uses this online portal. So I’m gonna start requesting all the internal notes from the online portal.” And then as you start learning and learning and learning, you know more and more what you need to ask in your non-party. So I never send form non-party requests that just say give me your records and bills. And what I actually do now in my non-party request is at the beginning of it, I say, “Disclaimer, this is not a standard non-party request that just asks for your medical records and bills. Please read each, you know, all 22 requests in their entirety to see what I am asking for.”

And I started doing that because I would send the targeted request and they would just respond with the records and bills. I was like, “I didn’t even ask for that.” So it’s just knowing the providers and knowing what to ask for. And then nowadays all of the providers have lawyers. So you’re fighting with their lawyers onto the discovery stage on confidentiality issues, on motions to compel, and it’s getting more and more time-consuming and more and more expensive. But at the end of the day, if you have a case where there’s, you know, 200 pages of emails with the lawyer saying, “Please do this surgery,” or, “Yes, this is approved,” or, “Send this person back for treatment,” I mean, I think that is compelling for a jury to hear. And you want to spend the time building that in discovery to show that at trial if you have that type of case.

Scott: Oh, if you have the lawyer literally directing the course of treatment in written form.

Elissa: Oh yeah. And that happens surprisingly often.

Scott: So if you were gonna give advice to plaintiff’s lawyers and how-to, you know if an injured person comes to them or a person that’s been harmed in some way, is there a way not to develop these relationships and still have a thriving planner’s practice?

Elissa: Yeah. I mean, and it’s hard. I sympathize for the plaintiff side. Again, I was on that side, and I know how hard it is to find doctors who will treat their patients without health insurance on a lean basis. But there are still reputable providers that will, and I know there’s funding companies now that will actually help fund the health insurance premiums. So then you can actually go to a reputable provider as opposed to one of these just targeted plaintiffs personal injury providers that overcharge on their bills. So I think that’s one of the way. And the other way is, I mean, I think the smarter plaintiff lawyers aren’t putting things in writing with the providers. And that’s obviously a smart thing to do. You know, if any plaintiff lawyers are listening, please keep putting things in writing. I enjoy it. But no, I think there are ways to send your…you know, also if your client has health insurance, they should use their health insurance.

I know as a plaintiff lawyer, I would encourage my client to use their health insurance. And sometimes they’re very skeptical like, “Well, why should I have to pay my co-pay? It wasn’t my fault.” And you have to explain to them. But at the end of the day, if you’re using your co-pay in your health insurance, and you’re treating with your legitimate medical providers that bill your health insurance, you’re ultimately gonna get a better settlement. So it’s worth it in the long run. And I think that that would be my biggest piece of advice is if they have health insurance, use it.

Scott: And they’ll get a better settlement because they’ll just look more credible over the life of the case or for some other reason?

Elissa: Yeah. Because if I get, if I get, you know, a demand package that has, you know, providers I’ve never heard of because the plaintiff used their health insurance, I go back to my client and I say, A, I can’t fight the amount of the medical bills, they’re all reasonable. B, this is not attorney directed care. They treat it with their primary care physician and the hospital and their family doctors. And if it’s a clear liability case, you know, depending on what the injuries are, that’s worth money, we don’t have to go through all the expensive non-party discovery and the little fights about, you know, communications because it’s legitimate treatment. So I think it helps not only the defense but the plaintiff side too. And it resolves cases a lot. Don’t have all these liens to worry about at the end of the case.

Scott: So beyond that, let’s talk then at the second thing that you mentioned was your motions practice and not filing form motions. But in terms of just preparing, and you know, you list that as a kind of a big part of how you prepare for trial, how do you go about spotting the issues to raise in motions in limine and sort of walk us through how you prepare to figure out which motions in limine to file and how you go about arguing those.

Elissa: I think you just have to see how they form in discovery and in depositions. You know, I think, for example, I do like little things. You know, there’s cases where if they had only non-invasive pain management procedures, a lot of plaintiff lawyers like to call them surgeries, but even the doctor will admit it’s not surgery. So I’ll file a motion in limine saying, “You can’t say the word surgery. It’s a misrepresentation, it’s not a surgical procedure. The doctor has already testified that it’s not a surgical procedure.” Because when you say surgery, that means something more to a jury. And I think that that’s prejudicial. So kind of little things like that just depending on how the deposition testimony is formed or, you know, something that one might have said. And it’s hard to kind of explain without seeing the case, but I stopped filing, I guess, for motions probably after my first trial.

And you just really have to see, is there a specific piece of evidence, or is there a prior accident or you know, on the plaintiff’s side, is there a prior something has no relevance to the case that you can exclude? Or is there… I mean, I know on the plaintiff side they wanna file a lot of motions on the attorney referrals. And sometimes that wins also. I mean, I think it won in my last case on the plaintiff’s side. And the judge ended up reversing it because I impeached the plaintiff. But I think it just really honing in on the deposition testimony you get in the discovery to figure out little bits of pieces that you can exclude and those add up. And a lot of them these days, I think are focused on collateral source issues, referrals, health insurance funding, and things like that that are not as developed in our court of appeals. And I think on the defense side, that’s where we’re trying to go. We’re trying to get some case law on this.

Scott: So you’re looking at trends, you’re looking at things that you’re wanting to sort of eject, you know, potentially cutting edge issues into the case.

Elissa: Yes.

Scott: And you’re also keying into specific things as they develop throughout the course of discovery.

Elissa: Absolutely.

Scott: So going back then to the technology, you know, you’ve mentioned TrialPad. What kind of is in your technology toolkit when you go to trial?

Elissa: So I go to trial just with TrialPad. I print out my exhibits obviously, for the court and for opposing counsel, unless they want ’em emailed. Otherwise, I take my TrialPad or my iPad. I take the little Apple TV Box, so you can do it without internet. And depending on the courtroom TV location, I’ll sometimes bring a screen and my projector, if the TVs aren’t in an ideal place. And then otherwise, I play it all like that. So I, you know, can zoom in on the spot. I can highlight and redact on the spot. I do a lot of pictures. And then for opening and close, I’ll do, it’ll be a PowerPoint presentation that’s not done through TrialPad. And I’ll have, you know, clips though in screenshots that I create through TrialPad of the testimony, or like side by sides of the deponent and the, you know, actual testimony. And I just put it all together in a manner that’s visibly appealing, not a lot of text, and just focusing on the key issues with that.

Scott: And how are you preventing bad things from happening with the tech in various courtrooms that you go to? It sounds like one of the things you’re doing is you’re bringing all the tech in yourself.

Elissa: Yeah. So knock on wood, I have not had a snafu with TrialPad yet. And I think the reason is, is because you don’t need internet, it’s all through the Apple TV. So I always go to the courtroom though way before trial. So I’ll typically reach out to the staff attorney, you know, at least three or four days prior to trial and ask if I can come in and like bring all my stuff and do a set-up and a little run-through. And they’ve always agreed to that. And so I make sure beforehand that it works. And I also then go see the TV placement and whether I need to bring a screen or projector. So that’s how I kind of make sure that works.

I will say on the appellate side, I have had a snafu with screen sharing where I had all these nice little slides prepared. And I told the clerk beforehand, I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna use my screen share. And I went to pull up my first screen and press shared screen, and it didn’t work. And so you could hear me saying, “Okay, well, we’re gonna skip that.” And then they finally fixed it. They fixed it. So I was able to use my next slide. But you just kind of have to go with the flow. I mean, there’s going to be mistakes and there’s gonna be mess-ups, and you just kind of, you know, laugh at yourself and make it seem like it’s fine. It humanizes you.

Scott: Are you… Okay, this is getting in the weeds maybe a little bit, but are you using one dedicated iPad just for your presentation during the course of a trial, and then you’re using a laptop separately from that, or are you using the same device kind of for everything?

Elissa: I’ll use my iPad for everything. I’ll have all of my exhibits, all of the documents, the video clips, everything is stored into the TrialPad folders. And then I have a jump drive with a connector so I can hook the jump drive up to my iPad to play my opening and my closing presentation.

Scott: Gotcha.

Elissa: I’ll have my laptop there too, in case I need to do, like…I mean, I can do Westlaw research on my iPad. But I will have my laptop just in case there’s some document I, you know, forgot to load into the iPad. So I do have that there as a backup.

Scott: And what do you do…do you do a paper trial notebook? How are you sort of just maintaining your file and maintaining your notes as the trial’s taking place?

Elissa: All on the iPad because, you know, I pull up a document, I can take notes right on there. Paper, I lose paper. It drives me nuts. I just can’t. Like if I walk into somebody’s office and there’s paper everywhere, it gives me anxiety. So I think it’s much more effective. And the thing I love about TrialPad is you can…so when all of your documents are stored into their respective folders that you create, you can do a general word search. So I can search the word, “Apple,” and it will pull every document from every folder that says the word, “Apple.” And that is so helpful at trial when you’re trying to find a specific piece of, you know, like deposition testimony or something in an exhibit. Whereas you see, you know, the old school lawyers flipping through like binders of thousands of pages, trying to find the spot, you know, where they said that. And that’s cumbersome. So I think it really helps expedite things. And for me, it’s just a preparation thing. I feel like it’s so much easier to access information on the TrialPad.

Scott: If you’re impeaching a witness or you’re laying a foundation for a document, what are you approaching the witness on the witness stand with? Are you bringing your iPad and showing them the PDF on your iPad?

Elissa: So that’s actually a good question because my last trial…My second to last trial, I did impeach the witness. And it was the very first time where I got to do the whole show of ripping open dramatically the original deposition transcript. And I felt like I was like a TV lawyer. I was like, “I have never gotten to do this. This is such an exciting thing.” Which is sad but it was exciting. So what I did is I…you know, it was a case where she testified that she had found the chiropractor on her own. And in her deposition testimony, she said otherwise. She said that her lawyer sent her there. So the judge had initially denied my motion or our motion to say, or granted plaintiff’s motion in limine to say that I don’t get to talk about how she was referred anywhere. But because she lied on the stand, he reversed that ruling and let me impeach her. So I then called her as an adverse witness in my case in chief.

And I got my TrialPad and it’s connected, you know, to the TV. So I pulled up the exact portion of the testimony where she said that she was referred by her lawyer. And in TrialPad, you can use your Apple Pencil and zoom in. And so it basically, like, you know, blows up to the front of the depo transcript, the portion that I wanted her to read. And I highlighted it and I was like, “Ma’am, can you please take a minute to read this, and then would you like to change your answer as to how you were referred?” And I remember she sat there for like a solid five or 10 minutes, and the judge kind of looks at me like, you know, “Ms. Haynes, like come on.” And I was like, my first worry was, “Oh my gosh, what if she doesn’t know how to read, and I’m going to look like a terrible person because I’m gonna look like I’m harassing somebody who doesn’t know how to read?” But that was not the case. She obviously, did not want to admit that she had lied under oath, but she had to at that point. So no, what I do is just, the TrialPad it’s on the screen. So, I have my TrialPad in my hand, so I can look at what’s on the screen, but then the jury and the witness can also look at it because it’s streamed to the TV.

Scott: Gotcha. And what about in appellate law? There’s a lot of appellate lawyers that don’t like or don’t think that you should use tech in the course of an appellate argument. So I wanna kind of talk to you first about how you’re using technology in oral argument. And then I definitely wanna talk to you about doing in embeds of media in your briefs.

Elissa: Yeah. So, you know, some people are hesitant to use technology during appellate arguments. And sometimes that’s just because maybe they’re worried about it, you know, throws off their flow of argument or takes up time because time is precious at the court of appeals, you don’t have a lot of it. But I think, you know, when there’s a specific statute or a specific quote from a case that really emphasizes your point, I think you do want your panel to read along with you. And I think that is helpful. And I know, I think Judge Dillard has mentioned that too, you know.

And I don’t know how everybody feels about it, but I think if you have a case, especially, let’s say it’s a very technology-oriented case where you’re talking about circuit breakers and whether somebody, you know, tagged off and you know, there’s all these intricate wirings, and if you’re talking about those in oral argument, you know, I think it’s helpful to show a picture of the device that you’re talking about because those are confusing. That’s not, you know, straightforward things that everybody just knows about. I remember the first kind of product liability type case I handled. I mean, it made my head spin because I’m just not a science-type person. So if you have a case where it’s helpful to show things like that, show them. There’s no harm in doing so. And it’s a matter of literally pressing screen share if you’re doing it on Zoom. Or if not, it’s just a matter of, you know, putting it on the Elmo.

Scott: You’re not coming in with like a pre-prepared like PowerPoint presentation? You may have just a set of exhibits that you’re bringing in or maybe it’s a demonstrative of a statute or something when you write an oral argument in the appellate court.

Elissa: Oh yeah. Never a presentation on PowerPoint, always just like maybe two or three slides of text from a statue or text from a case or a picture, and that’s it. And sometimes there’s some arguments where I don’t use anything. It just depends. It depends on the case

Scott: Say a little bit about how you’re using media in the briefs themselves.

Elissa: I’m just a big fan of pictures. So if there’s a premises case…Like I had a premises case go up on appeal that involved a fall as somebody was stepping up into a booth at a restaurant. So in my Statement of Facts section, I put a picture of the booth. Because to me, it’s crazy to think that if you’re writing about this, why wouldn’t you insert a picture of the very thing that you’re trying to say is not a hazard. You want them to see, “Oh, this isn’t a hazard, this is a normal booth.” So I think when you have cases like that, that you have something you want them to see, let them see it. There’s nothing in the rules, whether in state court or on appeal that says that you cannot put pictures into your brief. And I’ve talked to several of the appellate judges that say, “Yes, we like having pictures in the brief.” I mean, A, it’s probably entertaining and, you know, breaks up just some of the text reading, but B, it is helpful to drive your point home if you really have a picture that drives home your point.

Scott: And are you just doing pictures or are you doing hyperlinks or anything like that within your brief? I know that some lawyers are starting to put a link where, you know, if you cite a case, you can click on the case site and go to the case. Have you done anything like that?

Elissa: I think I’ve done that maybe once. And I don’t know if that’s the norm yet. And I think certain judges have preferences on that. Some want it, some don’t. But I definitely have hyperlinked one actually, to one of my appellate arguments at a part where one of the judges said something that was helpful in a negligent security case of mine. And so in another negligent security brief, I footnoted that and hyperlinked it because I wanted them to hear what the judge said on that issue. So that’s the one time I’ve like hyperlinked and put in a link to an actual video of an appellate argument at the part where the judge is saying something.

Scott: Oh wait, so you linked to a snippet from a previous appellate-like oral argument?

Elissa: Yes. In a State Court brief, it was just a part where the judge said something that was helpful. You know, it was basically like establishing, talking about foreseeability and crime. And so I put that in a footnote in my brief.

Scott: Oh, that’s very… And you got feedback from the judge about that? Do you know how well that landed?

Elissa: I don’t know how well it landed. I know that summary judgment got denied, but then I won on appeal.

Scott: Oh, well, there you go. So.

Elissa: So much so. It worked out in my favor anyways.

Scott: Okay. So it sounds like you have a lot of fun at trial. Do you see your career trajectory going in the direction of only appeals or do you think you’ll always kind of have a hold in the trial world?

Elissa: I would love to just do appellate work eventually. And that doesn’t mean to get rid of all the trial work. I still enjoy the embedded trial work where I’m still involved, but I’m not just handling the whole thing. And you know, several people have asked me, “Why appellate work? What do you like about appellate work as opposed to trial work?” And for me, it’s the creativity aspect of it. You know, I never did trial advocacy. I was the moot quarter. And to me, trial is more of acting. It is more of a show. I think that you can…I’m not gonna say anybody can try a case because I disagree with that to an extent. But from an appellate standpoint, it’s not about the show. It’s not about who impresses the jury more or who the jury likes more. And so at the appellate level, it really is who has the better argument, who’s smarter and who’s more creative, who took the law and made something into it, or who establishes new law. I mean, that’s what we do on appeal, we want to create new law sometimes. So I think it takes a different type of thinking and creativity and going down rabbit holes. And that’s the part that I really, really love.

Scott: So before we kind of conclude this, I have to ask you because I already know about it. And this is probably why I asked you back on the podcast to begin with, but let’s talk about your case charts. I want those who don’t know about Elissa Haynes’s case charts to hear about them.

Elissa: I need to find a way to like mark like profit off of these. Like just like write like a book about it or like sell an outline. So when I was speaking in y’alls appellate class, with you and Judge Dillard, I talked about these case charts that I make basically, for every appeal that I do. And I do it by topic area. So the one I showed you guys was my negligent security case law chart. And what it is is over the years, I’ve, you know, just compiled a list of cases from plaintiff’s briefs and then from my briefs. And I’ll put all of them in this Microsoft Word chart and it will have the case name, the judge, and it will have the year, it will have the main facts and the holding.

And then if it’s a case that’s cited in the plaintiff’s brief, in red I’ll have, this is how you distinguish that case if you were ever doing oral argument or writing a brief. And just over the years…I remember the way it started was my very first appeal that I handled. And it was the first case that I handled from start to finish was a negligent security case. And I was going through the plaintiff’s brief and I made a list. I made that chart of every case that they cited to, and I read every single one of them. And then I read the trial briefs in those cases to see how I could distinguish it. Because sometimes the appellate decision doesn’t have all of the evidence that was in there and you have to go back to the trial record too.

And so I would start saying interesting, you know, they cite all of these cases for this position. But if you really dig into it, you’ll find that that’s not the case and here’s how you win that issue. So I form it all into a chart and I have, I mean, I guess my famous ones’ negligent security. And I just literally have every case that you could ever possibly use in a negligent security case on both sides of the V in that chart. And I keep updating it as new cases come out. And so then when I’m writing my brief or doing oral argument, I have a quick kind of guide to that. And I have select quotes from the cases in that chart that I can just copy and paste into the brief. And it just makes things very organized and it just keeps you up to date on what’s going on in the negligent security world.

Scott: It’s interesting too, because a lot of times in briefs, people are not exactly faithful even to the holding of the case itself. And when you dig into the case, you see that. But I find sometimes the nuances like that can get lost in court. So you’ll have the other side standing up at argument saying that a case stands for something and it really doesn’t. Or they’re missing some significant, you know, fact from the case. So that sounds like a really good way to maybe engage the lawyer. I mean, I’m sorry, engage the judge in what’s distinctive or the nuances in the case.

Elissa: Well, I think that…And that is, I mean, I think especially reading the trial court record because for so long, you know, the plaintiffs were citing these cases that said, you know, “Well, constructive knowledge of crime is enough.” And there’s a couple of appellate decisions that actually say, you know, “Constructive knowledge is sufficient.” But when I started digging into those cases and I read those trial briefs and I read the record, all of those cases, there was not a single one that did not have evidence of the owner or occupiers actual knowledge of prior crime. So that was how I used it to distinguish those cases.

So if you hadn’t read the trial, you know, summary judgment briefs or the trial record, you would not know that. You would just look at the appellate opinion and say, “Oh no, constructive knowledge is fine.” But when you dig deeper, you find, well, maybe the court said that. But the actual holding and the reason the court of appeals got to where they did is because this guy had actual knowledge of five prior burglaries or whatever it is. So I think this is a plug for law firms, whether your lawyers are doing appeals or not, get the good Westlaw or Lexis subscriptions that allow you to access the trial court briefing . Because I know in like the basic plans that that’s extra, but I use that on a daily basis and it is invaluable.

Scott: So, you’re using Westlaw and you’re digging into the record and the trial, not just the appellate court briefing, but you’re digging into the trial record to see what really happened at the trial court level, in those cases?

Elissa: Yeah. In certain cases where I read them on the appellate level and say, “Oh no, like man, this case really does, like, it hurts me. Like how do I get around it?” And the first question I’ll ask is, you know, “How do I get around it?” And that’s when I go to the court below, look at the trial court record. And more often than not, I’ll find this is how I get around it.

Scott: Mmm.

Elissa: And it’s an issue below.

Scott: So what is next for you? I think you said when we first started talking, you have a couple of trials coming up?

Elissa: Yes. I have…Well, as of right now, I think one start scheduled to start in April. I’m not sure if that will go forward, but my cases are popping up on calendars left and right. So I’m, you know, my YLD presidency term comes to an end in June. And so that will free up a little bit more of my time. And I’m speaking at the FDCC, the Federation of Corporate and Defense Counsel Summer Meeting in July in Seattle on the importance of embedded appellate council. And so I’m doing a lot of speaking engagements on that too. And it’s been fun.

Scott: Well, I do wanna talk to you, just in closing.

Elissa: Sure.

Scott: I read, I guess it was your most recent column in the “Young Lawyer’s Division Newsletter”. And for my listeners, I don’t know why I get that newsletter because I’m definitely not qualified to be in the Young Lawyer’s Division anymore, but I do get the newsletter. And I really enjoyed yours, your most recent one. When I read columns like the one that you do, very often, I see two themes emerge sometimes. And one is very Polyanna-ish about the practice of law generally. And the other that I often see is, “This is how great my practice is, and this is how wonderfully everything is together for me. And here are some tips for you to be as together as I am.” And you are very together but I did like the candor in that column that you shared. And I’d love to talk to you a little bit more about the column that you just recently published.

Elissa: Yeah, sure. There have been…you know, being the YLD President and on State Bar Executive Committee, we talk about mental health often. And for those that don’t know, we have the user six campaign where if you’re a member of the bar, you have six free counseling sessions per year. And I encourage you to use them. It’s completely confidential. Nobody ever finds out that you called and set those up. But we have had a record number of lawyer suicides. And lawyer mental health is a real thing. And a lot of people are struggling. And it wasn’t just during COVID, but I think for me personally, it took when I switched over to this side and started building my practice and having all…you know, from being an associate to having the safety net of a partner and knowing the clients were the partners, and if something went wrong, it wasn’t on me to now knowing that it’s on me, these are my clients. If something happens, it’s on me. Not really having the associate support that I need in order to run my practice the way I want to run it.

Plus the GDLA Amicas Chair, the YLD presidency, it got to be a lot. And, you know, there were times where I just completely broke down crying. And I would be sitting in my office or at home, and I would just start crying, and I was miserable because I was…you know, I’m a say yes person, I would say yes to everything. I would go cover this or I would go speak at this event or go to this conference. And it finally got to a point where I was like, I am losing it. Like I am…you know, people are saying, “How do you hold it together?” And I would look at them and I’m like, “That’s scary that you think that I’m holding it together because I am definitely not.”And you know, I would talk to some of my law partners about this. One of my best friends is one of my law partners. And I know, you know, she has two young kids and she is going through the same exact thing. And it is hard and we need to talk more about how hard it is and how we can support each other because it’s just a profession that we are always essentially on call, it’s 24/7. We go above and beyond and we put so much internal stress on ourselves that we don’t take time, you know, for what we need.

Like my partner the other day said, “I need to make an appointment to have like a physical and to like go to the dentist or something.” And she’s like, “I don’t even know when I have time to do it.” And that’s true. I mean, this is terrible, but like I got my gas bill in the mail the other day. And, you know, I guess for a year you’re on like a fixed therm price. And it’s like 34 cents or something. But when it expires, it changes to like some astronomical amount. And I just got so busy that I got my gas bill in the mail and instead of like $50, it was like 300 and something. And I was like, “Oh my God.” Like I just complete…I didn’t have time. It’s been sitting on my counter. I just have not had the physical time to make a two-minute phone call to the gas company. So it’s just, I want to speak more about, there’s such a stigma with people who are struggling or, you know, getting on medication if you’re struggling and speaking to a therapist. But that’s not, it shouldn’t be a stigma anymore.

Like we are in a very, very demanding profession. And I think people should talk more about the realities of how hard it is and how we fix some of these things as opposed to this like “Little House on The Prairie” type, you know, everything’s great, life is perfect. Because that’s not the case. And what you see on social media is not reality. And we let it get to our head I think. So I try to, you know, speak out about that as much as I can in hopes that…and there’s so many people that have emailed me after the bar journal article that said, you know, “Thank you for speaking up.” Like, “Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for making this a pressing issue.” And that means a lot. And I hope people…you know, because I always wonder how many people actually read those things. But I think some people do and I hope people will use that and speak up more. And more importantly, check on their colleagues because sometimes you don’t know when somebody is actually struggling. And I think that’s the most important part.

Scott: Well Elissa, thanks so much for being on the podcast. I really, I learned a lot and I enjoyed this.

Elissa: Yes. Thank you so much for having me. And you can always be an honorary member of the Young Lawyers Division. We are more than happy to have you at any of our events and we will keep sending you the newsletter forever until you say stop.

Scott: Oh, that sounds perfect. Thanks. Thanks for listening to the “Advocate’s Key”. For more information and content like this, including a transcript of this episode, be sure to visit scottkeylaw.com. And please rate, review, and follow this show wherever you get your audio content.


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Originalist textualism is a way of interpreting the law that can often feel a bit like stepping into a time machine. In this episode, former Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Keith Blackwell, guides us through originalist methodology and gives important context to the legal debates happening today and in the future. Blackwell breaks down the fundamentals of the practice in a way that can make you a more effective advocate.
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David Lefkowitz Avoiding Common Legal Missteps

David Lefkowitz: Avoiding Common Legal Missteps

As a legal malpractice attorney, David Lefkowitz knows all the common pitfalls and administrative errors that lawyers need to avoid. In this episode, Lefkowitz breaks down how a casual conversation with a friend to a failure to meet a deadline could potentially place an attorney in hot water. He’ll also explain how communication and documentation can be your antidote to legal missteps.
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