Connecticut Appellate Court Judge Delivers E. John Wherry, Jr. Distinguished Lecture in Trial Advocacy and Professionalism
Web Editor - Published: May 23, 2012


“Advocacy at the highest levels involves a good deal more than our logical reasoning minds. There is now an extensive body of literature and social science research that establishes that the process of decision-making is more elaborate than – and less rooted in – the rational, analytical processes that we lawyers and judges tend to focus on,” said the Honorable Douglas S. Lavine as he spoke to students and faculty in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program on Widener Law’s Delaware campus on Monday, May 21st, 2012.

Following a welcome and introduction from Professor John Nivala, who directs the ITAP Program, Lavine spoke eloquently about the benefit litigators can gain from looking beyond just rational, linear thinking by embracing less tangible traits such as humility, common sense, empathy, curiosity, humor, or authenticity.

“Great advocates cannot prevail only by making logical, linear, analytical appeals to their audiences – important as they are,” said Lavine, adding, “Great advocates prevail because they have cultivated the intuitive side, the empathic side, and the feeling side of their character and personalities. Great advocates are perceptive students of human nature.”

“Advocacy is not about you,” Lavine advised the students before adding, “It’s about understanding where everyone else in the process is coming from.”

Leaving the students with some thoughts on how to become effective advocates, Lavine told them, “Develop your own style, play to your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Be yourself. Be authentic.”

A native of White Plains New York, Lavine graduated from Colgate University, and earned a masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University before earning his law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law and an LL.M. from Columbia Law School. Before beginning his legal career, he served as a reporter and editor for various newspapers. From 1981 to 1986, he worked in the litigation department of Hartford law firm Shipman & Goodwin, and from 1986 to 1993, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney. In 1993, Governor Lowell P. Weicker appointed him to be a Superior Court judge, and Governor John G. Rowland reappointed him in 2001. Since February of 2006, he has served on the Appellate Court following his nomination by Governor M. Jodi Rell and approval by the legislature.