Clients and Lawyers: Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture

–By John Merrick —

“Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.” I confess that years ago I wasn’t sure what this advice really meant. In a nutshell, it means don’t miss the big picture by focusing solely on the details. This applies broadly to every profession and daily life but is particularly important for a trial attorney. Despite its simplicity, this old adage is easy to forget, because we tend to get wrapped up in details. I do anyway.
I recently resolved a heavy case. My client faced four life sentences and trial was fast approaching. There were numerous witnesses, documents, videos, DNA evidence, experts, investigators, legal issues, motions, objections, deadlines, and on and on. It was easy to get bogged down. Then, I realized the big picture: the case really depended on the credibility of a single witness. Eureka! That is what the case was all about. It seems so simple in hindsight, but it is easy to forget the big picture when you are tracking multiple balls in the air.
I wish I remembered the adage earlier in my case. It would have saved me from a bit of stress. Details are important and should not be ignored. But, if you identify the big picture first, the rest of the case may fall into place. Here’s a reminder in case you need it, like I did.

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