Judge Cynthia Stephens, who recently retired as a judge after 40 years on the bench in Michigan, says the biggest mistake that lawyers make in court is giving air to the fact that they’re not prepared. 

“Nobody is ever perfectly prepared,” says Stephens, who most recently sat on her state’s intermediate Court of Appeals. “Everybody has different levels of preparedness. But the people who are the fact finders, they never need to know that.”