The summer usually sets a slower pace for law practice as lawyers and judges take some time off to be with their families before school starts back up. I have always found it to be a good time to catch up on my reading. I’ve been reading more and more about decision science and persuasion lately and some of the books I’m getting into this summer include (1) The Art of Thinking Clearly by Dobelli, (2) Persuasion by Cialdini, (3) Thinking Fast & Slow by Kahneman and (4) Show the Story by Bailey. I also want to read at least one book by Dan Ariely on behavioral economics, which I understand to be economics based not on assumptions of rational decision-making but on the actual psychology of decision-making.
And of course I’ll be re-reading Confederacy of Dunces, one of my all-time favorite books.
One of the reasons I’m reading these books is that I like to read about how people make decisions, particularly in group settings. I can only think that would help in jury trials. The goal of jury trials is to get the truth out as fully and simply as possible, without being manipulative or cloying.
The other reason I’m reading them is because lawyers tend to take ideas they’ve read about in Psychology books or journals and apply them a bit too loosely to trial law, with little empirical support. For example, I’ve heard lawyers in seminars take some of the ideas on attribution and apply them to jury trials with no real support in any studies of actual or mock trials. I would prefer to see actual studies of how a real jury or even a well-controlled mock jury made decisions. Juries are special groups, and their decisions may or may not mimic the way other groups make decisions.
Please feel free to comment about these books. I’d like to get other folks’ thoughts on good books for trial lawyers. Hope everyone is having a great summer.