Trials are high stakes. They usually mean the case could not be settled and so both sides have chosen to gamble; to roll the dice in the casino that is the courtroom. When this occurs, there is a lot on the line. Not everyone has the stomach or pocketbook for trial. Losing can mean jeopardizing your livelihood, having to pay the other sides attorneys' fees, file bankruptcy, or all of the above.
I've interviewed countless jurors after trial and each time it has only reinforced what I already know. Likeability and relatability matter. If your trial lawyer is not likeable, relatable, credible, humble, personable, charismatic and kind, you are already at a disadvantage. These are the intangibles to being a good, and successful, trial attorney - and guess what? They don't teach these things in law school.
I don't care how smart your lawyer is, where he went to school, or what firm he works for. Nor does the jury. The jury needs to buy into you and your case, and it starts with your lawyer. If your lawyer is not the kind of person the jury can relate to and would want to have a beer with (in addition to being competent), good luck.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and if your case is just that bad, it may not make a difference. But no lawyer worth their license would ever take a case that is that bad to trial. So, all things being equal, I'll take my ability - and my likeability, relatability, and credibility - any day over just being – or thinking you are – the smartest guy in the room.