When it comes to advocacy, the British have us beat. You would think that since we patterned our laws after the common law of England, that we would adopt everything that is good about their system. Unfortunately, the American judicial system does not permit advocates to serve both as prosecution and defense counsel (back and forth, from week to week).  Sure, we can start out our careers as prosecutors and then become defense lawyers or, on occasion, the opposite. But by and large, we settle into either prosecuting or defending. That commutes to a “mindset” and to some degree a bias or prejudice.

The British remain mindful of what is most important to victims and defendants. They come to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both sides because they are involved on both sides. They resist being jaded by a lack of understanding that the “other side” comes to believe is the only righteous position to take in a criminal case.

I do not know why we have not adopted the prosecution/defense aspect of advocacy. Criminal trial lawyers, both prosecution and defense would become more well-rounded if they stepped in the shoes of their brothers and sisters in the practice. Add to that a mentorship (the Inns of Court in Great Britain is far more influential to the practice of law than it is here) requiring a fledgling lawyer to learn from a more experienced barrister before ever entering the courtroom and I would venture to say that we in America would benefit greatly.

About the author : deVlaming & Rivellini P.A.