Tips to Prepare for Your Day in Court
Going to court is often a scary thought, especially when you really have to go to court. Depending on your personal ability to handle stress can make a difference. There are, however, several tips for even the self-assured person to consider as he or she prepares for their day in court.
- Probably the most important tip is to make sure you understand what you and your attorney hope to achieve. In other words, what outcomes are you looking for, and what strategy does your attorney plan to take. Just letting your attorney fly alone can be a let-down if you don’t have any idea what to expect.
- Should your time in court require you to testify, it is wise to have your attorney give you instructions on how best to answer questions. These instructions usually include keeping answers brief and to the point. Also, whenever possible, answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” Try to keep emotions in check, especially when being questioned by the opposing counsel who will be trying to make you look bad.
- Try to get a good night’s rest and have something to eat. Go easy on caffeine before court as you don’t want to be “wired.”
- Choose what you will wear carefully. Judges are people first and judge second. A party inappropriately dressed or disheveled in appearance can affect a judge’s opinion and sometimes the ruling he or she makes. For women, a classic suit with a hemline below the knees is the best. A loose-fitting skirt and blouse with no plunging neckline work well, too, as does a simple day-dress. Shoes should be plain and can be flat or up to a medium heel. No spikes or high platforms! For men, dress-slacks and long sleeve shirts work well. A suit and tie are okay but not necessary. If the season of the year is fall or winter, a sportscoat coordinated with the slacks is fine. White shirts are the best, but subtle colors can work too. Dress shoes with socks should be worn and should be polished to a high shine. No flip-flops, sandals, or work or cowboy boots.
- Choosing the right clothing needs to be complemented with good grooming. Ladies should use a hairstyle that is flattering but not outlandish. Make-up should be used sparingly with no attempt at wooing the judge. Men should wear their hair short or, if long, tied in a ponytail. Facial hair is fine as long as it is trimmed.
- Plan to arrive at the courthouse at least an hour early. This will give you time to look around as well as discuss last-minute strategies with your attorney. Arriving late to court is an absolute no-no, so be sure you have a back-up plan in case your car doesn’t start. Actually, it is best to have someone take you to the courthouse as parking is often a problem. Your friend can drop you off and then find a place to park.
A day in court will be an experience you can hopefully feel good about. Think positive as the day approaches; breathe deeply, and put your best foot forward.