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When I started my legal career as a law clerk to a federal judge, I quickly became aware that the lawyers who appeared before federal judges in San Francisco all had reputations. Those reputations permeated the courthouse among judges, lawyers and court staff. Opinions regarding lawyers were discussed in the judges' dining room, the second-floor cafeteria, the clerk's office and all the neighborhood watering holes. As a result, when lawyers stepped into a federal courtroom, their reputations preceded them and impacted their effectiveness. The lawyers who had "good" reputations often got the benefit of a doubt; the ones with "bad" reputations faced more difficulty persuading decisionmakers that their arguments had merit.

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