I have and likely always will be fond of those who don’t follow the crowd, those who seek excellence above popularity. And I especially enjoy reading books about those who earn real accomplishments in their own unique way. That’s why I like reading Rick Friedman’s books. His latest book, Becoming a Trial Lawyer (2d edition), is a gem. It’s full of great advice from Friedman, who’s had a long and successful career as a trial lawyer. One of his pieces of advice is that lawyer who want to become trial lawyers should avoid rigid devotion to any formulas and dogmas. They should instead absorb the many different suggestions of the “one way” to do things in a courtroom and use them in their own way that feels right to each individual lawyer.
Much of the advice on trial practice these days takes the form of “here’s the one right way to be a trial lawyer.” Some of that advice even comes from people who have never set foot in a courtroom. I have always been skeptical about any dogmatic approaches to things as complex as jury trials. And I appreciate Friedman’s advice to think broadly about how to be effective, and his rejection of any formulas. Trials are dynamic events, and no one way can capture their complexity.
The one thing I am sure of is that trying cases – lots of cases – and attentively examining your own performance is an effective way to become a better trial lawyer. Friedman’s book is full of wise advice, but remember the author’s own admonition to think for yourself even as you absorb his advice.