You could fill a large bookshelf with books on trial advocacy. Yet the number of civil trials seems to be on the decline, and has been for probably a decade or more. Could it be that there’s an inverse relationship between the number of trial advocacy books and the number of actual trials lawyers are handling? Are we reading books and going to seminars instead of trying cases? Judging solely by the number of trial advocacy books out there, I wonder. And many of these books are written by people who have never had to talk to a single juror.
Yet there are gems out there. An excellent book I am now finishing is Don’t Eat The Bruises by Keith Mitnick. He’s a very experienced trial lawyer with Morgan & Morgan. There are plenty of books by psychologists, trial consultants, and others that attempt to tell lawyers how to try cases successfully. But Mitnick is a practicing lawyer who has tried tons of cases of all sorts. That alone makes him worth listening to.
He has a whole lot of good advice for lawyers trying cases, particularly for those who try cases in tough, so-called “conservative” venues. His concluding chapters on damages contain some of the best approaches to arguing damages that I have ever seen. He also reveals a “note card” that is as low-tech as it is effective. Also, his approach to voir dire seems to me to be very effective.
If you want a start to finish book on trial advocacy by a lawyer who’s been through the battles, you can’t do better than this book.
But even better than that, get out there and try some cases!