General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Books for Trial Lawyers

By Robin Page West

Did you know that women trial lawyers should never wear pants in court, and that litigators should never wear glasses when addressing the jury? To find out why, buy Sonya Hamlin’s new book, What Makes Juries Listen Today (Glasser Legalworks, 1999). Hamlin is a communications consultant and Emmy award-winning television personality who believes we are entering a new era of litigation that poses new challenges to the trial lawyer. Generational and multicultural changes in juries, combined with the public attitude toward lawyers and new styles of learning and communicating, mean, according to Hamlin, that if trial lawyers want to be effective, we must start communicating differently in court.

The 750-page book runs the gamut from how and where to stand, to how to prepare expert witnesses. It includes an analysis of the new juries with their varied societal and educational makeup, cultures and belief systems, as well as a survey of what judges want most from you in bench trials, together with their critiques of what lawyers do wrong most often. Concerned about whether to use the lectern or not? Hamlin’s book has the answer.

If you aren’t really bothered about the question of where to put your hands or what color suit to wear (Hamlin’s book will tell you), and are more in need of a refresher on just how to use that prior inconsistent statement on cross-examination, check out John Nicholas Iannuzzi’s Handbook of Cross-Examination, the Mosaic Art, Second Edition (Prentice-Hall, 1999). Chock full of practical advice on neutralizing the dreaded adverse witness, Iannuzzi’s book is a practical roadmap to effective cross-examination of anyone. He writes, "[j]ust as an artist, working a mosaic, fits bits and pieces of material together to ultimately create an entire picture, the cross-examiner’s aim is the reshaping of an adversary’s evidence into pieces which, by the end of the trial, will, together with your own evidence, either fit into a mosaic of fact supporting your position or that adverse evidence shall be made to appear as innocuous background material."

Iannuzzi astutely points out that most law school professors have not had enough trial experience to teach cross-examination to students, and that even busy practitioners don’t have time to observe enough jury trials to hone their cross-examination technique. The answer? Read Iannuzzi’s book and learn "the methods and disciplines that can be employed to unstring, rather than be unstrung!"

Robin Page West is a litigator in Baltimore, and Editor-in-Chief of Solo .

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