July 25, 2016 Articles

The Truth I Never Knew about Direct and Cross-Examinations

Keep the principles of preparation, controlling your case, and working every case as if it is going to trial at the forefront of your mind.

By Jason Brenner

Entering the legal field with the desire to become a trial attorney is a daunting endeavor. There is only one place where a young lawyer can establish himself or herself as a trial attorney—in the courtroom. Trial practice has almost become a misnomer in today’s world. The firm where I have been privileged to practice is made up of an endangered species of trial attorney. I revel in the “war stories” about them trying a case on Monday and preparing for the next one on Friday. Nowadays, the majority of time spent in court is in motion practice.

The current status of trial practice creates an interesting conflict for young, aspiring attorneys in their attempt to develop trial skills. In the almost six years I have been practicing, I have been trial support on two civil jury trials and second chair on an additional two. The first trial in which I participated as second chair was a stroke of fortune and an-eye opening experience. Once I was in the courtroom in this role, I understood the purpose and importance of direct and cross examination, but, most important, I understood the difference between direct and cross examination in discovery and at trial. The primary focus of this article is to illustrate the principles of direct and cross-examination that have been taught to me.

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