Those are different legal skills. The better trial lawyer is one who makes a better case to a jury. But, just as in sports, on any given day... The trial lawyer will not make it to trial, though, unless either s/he can cite case law or someone s/he is working with can. In short, the better lawyer is the one who possesses those two skills, or who possesses the phone number of a lawyer who possesses the skill s/he does not. I have found it useful to be able to do both, but I always have an appellate attorney on speed dial if I need a cite I can't find.
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That is a trick question, for what? If you have a lawyer who can argue but does not know the law, then they are no good. If you have a lawyer who knows the law, but cannot communicate it, or make an argument, then he is no good. A good lawyer is one who is vigilant, honest, intelligent, committed to his client, knows the law and how to communicate to judge and jury. No one aspect can make someone the best nor can any aspect be ignored to be the best.
The endless debate, again: when the facts are in your favor, argue the facts. When the law is in your favor, argue the law. Law is what is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.
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