Personal Reflection. Why good judgment comes first

AuthorJohn Adair
Why g jumen cmes irs
recently interviewed young lawyers for a position with our
rm. I asked all the applicants what quality they believe is the most
important for a successful litigator. It is, admittedly, a bit of an unfair
question, both because there probably is no “most” important quality
and because it is so dicult for anyone who has not spent any consider-
able amount of time doing this job to answer that question. However,
posing the question caused me to revisit my own thoughts on the subject.
I have long heard my father say that judgment is the single-most
important quality for a good litigator. I now believe that I can adopt that
answer based on my own thinking and experience. There are of course
many other options, and no doubt a compelling case can be made for a
number of them. This is not a question that admits of a “right” answer.
But in this space I want to defend my answer by (1) explaining how I got
to it, and what “judgment” means; (2) explaining why, to me, judgment
is so important in the context of today’s litigation landscape; and (3),
considering what, to me, is the critical question that follows from my
answer: whether we can “learn” better judgment. My eort starts with a
podcast about California resident Larry Williams.
I am probably well behind the times, but I started listening to pod-
casts about 12 months ago, and I’m hooked. The variety and quality of

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