Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Student Bar Association Skills Series and Mock Trial recently hosted a discussion with Chief Judge Jeffrey O’Hara of 63rd District Court about effective trial skills and what it takes to be a trial attorney.
O’Hara, a WMU-Cooley alumnus, spoke to students at the law school’s Grand Rapids campus on Feb. 18 about his experience as a former criminal defense attorney and current district judge.
Pictured: Chief Judge Jeffrey O'Hara (third from left) and Mock Trial board members Aaron Swayne, Kristin Carlesso, Laura Kane, Elizabeth Badonivac, and Sarvpal Dillon
“As a district court judge, I’m able to take a more ‘people-focused’ approach,” he told the students. “It takes a lot of work, dedication, practice, and the ability to think on your feet. It is all based on the art of persuasion.”
O’Hara shared with the students that preparation is key to succeed as a trial attorney. After quoting from Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch’s “A Republic. If You Can Keep It,” he stressed the importance of character and integrity in the legal profession.
“Judges typically value an attorney who carries himself or herself with a sense of honor and professionalism, especially here in West Michigan,” O’Hara said.