A Champion’s Approach: 3 Keys to Winning On The Court & In The Courtroom

JB Law Managing Partner Jonathan Burns, Esq. is a multiple time state and national racquetball champion who has spent many years working on his craft to become one of the most accomplished amateur players in the world.  At the same time, Mr. Burns is an accomplished litigator and trial attorney who has battled some of the largest companies and governments in both state and federal court.  Surprisingly or not, the attributes that make Mr. Burns successful on the court also translate to his success in the courtroom.  The three most important attributes that come to mind for both skills are preparation, experience and talent/facts. 

Champions Are Prepared

In the legal world, attorney preparation encompasses so many important things during both litigation and trial. Just to name a few…

  • How hard the attorney worked in deposition preparation.
  • Did the attorney interview or depose every conceivable person who might know something about the lawsuit?  
  • Reviewed every medical record thoroughly. 
  • Discuss all potential avenues with their expert witnesses. 

And for trial preparation, to name a few, the attorney should…

  • Properly outline every deposition transcript so it is easily accessible during trial on a moment’s notice. 
  • Properly prepare each witness for his or her testimony prior to trial. 
  • Reviewed every document that will be admitted into evidence.  
  • Preserve each witness’ testimony through video in case that witness is unavailable to testify live at trial. 

The preparation for a racquetball tournament is equally all-encompassing.  The player should spend enough time “drilling” on the court by themselves; practice all possible serves so the player is comfortable hitting any serve in their “bag” at any point during a match; and get comfortable hitting every offensive shot during a big point depending on how the opponent is positioned on the court.

And that is just the on-court preparation.  There is ample off-court preparation that goes into preparing for a big tournament including spending time in the gym working on strength and conditioning so the player’s body is healthy enough to withstand the rigors of playing three or four matches in a single day for several days.  Preparation also includes spending enough time stretching to decrease the likelihood of a pulled muscle at an inopportune time.  Diet is also a vital part of the preparation process.

Experience Matters

Like any other area, experience plays a big part in the success of a litigator or trial attorney.  While it is described as the “practice of law” because one can always improve, there is little doubt that the more cases one litigates or tries, the better they become.  For instance, way back during Mr. Burns’ first trial as a young attorney, the light bulb truly went off.  During that trial, Mr. Burns was able to fully understand how all the work prior to and during litigation came to be part of the trial.  For instance, the different documents exchanged during discovery and the issues that were previously subject to hearings were an important part of a trial. 

The same can be said for experience during racquetball tournaments.  The intensity level and skill needed to compete in a tournament is far different than a practice match at the gym.  The more tournaments a player participates in the more comfortable that player becomes in that environment.  At a tournament, where players have traveled and paid to compete, the stakes are simply higher and more difficult.  A player has to be able to keep his or her nerve during difficult moments in order to utilize all the different shots that were developed during practice.  It may sound simple but typically an athlete’s weaknesses get exposed during the most heightened or intense situations.

With tournament experience also comes the ability to adjust mid-match.  For instance, if an opponent is easily returning a specific serve or is hitting continuous winners from one side of the court, the player must respond accordingly.  If they do this, an experienced tournament player will quickly respond with a strategy change.. 

While playing in a tournament, which is single elimination, Mr. Burns tries to abide by the “Survive and Advance” motto made famous by Jim Valvano’s 1983 North Carolina State national championship team.  It may be an “ugly win” but it is still a win and you survive to play another match with a chance to win the tournament.  The ability to adjust a game style or specific strategy in the middle of a match is an important part of ensuring advancement in a tournament.

Talent & Facts

The last attribute to discuss is something that a player or lawyer often cannot control.  And that is the talent one was born with or the facts of a specific case.  As it relates to talent, it is widely accepted that to some degree hand-eye coordination, foot speed or instincts for sport is something that a player is born with.  Can those areas be improved and developed through grit and hard work?  Of course.  But to some degree, the ability to improve at a quick rate in order to win at the highest levels is something one is born with.

The same can often be said for facts surrounding a lawsuit.  Can a skilled litigator and trial attorney “massage” the facts of a case to best suit their client?  You bet!  Is a skilled litigator or trial attorney able to take interesting angles to help their clients win cases?  Of course!  But the facts surrounding a lawsuit typically develop prior to the attorney’s involvement.  There will be sworn testimony that will come into a case, particularly a personal injury lawsuit that an attorney simply cannot control.  Much like natural born talent, specific facts are sometimes outside the control of a skilled attorney.  However, where you find an elite athlete or top litigator trial attorney, you will often find the right combination of preparation, experience and talent.   

Winning Is A Mindset

The key to becoming someone who makes winning a normal course of action is to adopt a winning mentality. It is the willingness to do consistently what everyone else is afraid or unable to do in order to gain a competitive advantage and master their craft in order to become a winner.

At JB Law, we approach each case with a winning mentality. Unlike the large firms where you will get lost in the shuffle and just become a number in a file cabinet, we give each client the attention they deserve. We’re responsive and accessible. Clients have Mr. Burn’s personal cell phone, not a “work” phone. His clients always know what is going on with their case.  If you ever have any questions about your legal rights, please reach out to him (305-803-1865) or the office line (561-717-9551).