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The Einstein Theory of Advocacy

The Genius Is In The Simplicity

Einstein Theory of Advocacy

Probably one of the most overlooked skill in advocacy is the value of simplicity. This is especially true of new lawyers. Many new lawyers come out of law school looking for every legal argument they can make, which is not a bad idea. However some of these legal arguments are complicated, and attorneys often think a good lawyer knows how to make complicated argument. They couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the most important skill of a good lawyer is to take these complicated arguments, and make them simple. That’s where the genius of advocacy really lies.

What Is The Einstein Theory Of Advocacy

The Einstein Theory of Advocacy is based on the principle of simplicity. Obviously Einstein did not invent simplicity, and he was not known for his advocacy skills. So why do I call this “The Einstein Theory of Advocacy”? Because much of Einstein’s work was about extremely complicated theories in physics, and yet he still emphasized the importance of simplicity.

RULE ONE
"Everything Should Be Made As Simple As Possible,
But Not Simpler."
-Albert Einstein

Here Einstein states the important of simplicity, which is extremely important. But he also warns against over simplification. In advocacy this is frequently done by not justifying your position (in advocacy this is often making an argument that is conclusory), failing to fully explain your position, or explaining why your position applies and your opponents position does not.

RULE TWO
"If You Can’t Explain It Simply,
You Don’t Understand It Well Enough."
-Albert Einstein

When you walk into court to tell the judge or jury your side of the case, how much sense does it make, are there any questions left unanswered, and most importantly how simply can you explain your argument. If you are compounding inferences, or going on long speeches to make your point, then you are much less likely to win your argument then if you can make the same argument in a clear simple manner. Chances are if you can’t simply explain you’re argument, then chances are you either don’t completely understand it, or it’s an invalid argument.

An Example Of The Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that juveniles can not receive life for non-homicide offenses, and must be given a meaningful opportunity for release based on maturity and rehabilitation. But what happens if the juvenile receives probation as a juvenile, but violates his probation as an adult. Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals (4th DCA) in Guzman said, since they were juveniles when they committed the crime they are entitled to a meaningful opportunity for release. However the Florida Supreme Court took the case, which was eventually decided on other grounds. However Justice Pariente in a concurring opinion said he should not be entitled to a meaningful opportunity for release, since being on probation as an adult was his opportunity for release.

If you were to argue a similar case should you make the simple argument he’s entitled to release, since the 4th DCA is controlling, or should you go further and state why the 4th DCA’s decision makes sense. For example does being rehabilitated mean that you are to be a perfect citizen. If so then no one can be rehabilitated. If not do all violations of probation mean you’re are not rehabilitated, and therefore should be subject to life in prison?

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