In 2008 we spoke with personal injury trial lawyer Bernard Smalley of Anapol, Schwartz, Weiss, Cohan, Feldman & Smalley in Philadelphia for a piece that ran that year in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers. In this previously unpublished excerpt, he talks about the pressures involved in his line of work.
As you prepare for trial, the stress continues to build. I must say I can handle it better than I could 20 years ago but it’s always intense because for your client this is their one chance. They don’t get to say, Well, Bernie was having a bad day, or his back was acting up and we’d like to have another trial. That’s not the way it works. I’ve got to put all of my energy into it. I take fewer cases now because it does take a toll. If you can get a good night’s sleep before an opening argument that’s not a good indication. But that’s the price you pay. Your client only gets one shot. I usually go sit on a beach afterward.