When discussing where to file a lawsuit with clients, I often quip that, “I have a car.” The point being that I believe a case should be filed in its best strategic forum, even if that forum is not the closest one to my office. But that doesn’t mean every forum is the same. Far from it. To be effective, an attorney cannot walk into an unfamiliar forum and just assume that everything will be that same as in a more familiar forum. Or worse yet, act as if they don’t know what they are doing in the new forum. That approach is ineffective, and also rude.
Before going into a Courthouse for the first time, you should become familiar with the local rules of the court, and the specific policies of the Judge presiding. Introduce yourself to Court staff, be polite, and allow the courtroom staff to assist you. Express genuine interest about the town, the courthouse, and their history.
Do not be that guy who tells a Judge how “we do it where I come from.” That’s code for “we’re better than you.” You might as well ask the Judge to find against your client.
That said, they will know you are not one of their own. I appeared in a distant county years ago, and upon arrival in the Judge’s chambers, he told me that he heard about an auto accident on the interstate the evening before, and he was concerned that I may have encountered difficulty arriving to town. Lesson: The Judge knew I was coming, and he also knew where I was coming from. The least I could do was show him I was happy to be there. My client won that case and on my way out of town, the Judge wished me “safe travels.”