March 28, 2014

"Anatomy of a Trial, Second Edition"

I have always believed that persuasion is an art form and that trial lawyers who master it will find themselves on the winning end of many of the cases they bring to trial. Rhetoric is the art of selecting how to persuade others to your side. Therefore it too is an art form and, indeed, lawyers who master the art of rhetoric will be the most persuasive. In the second edition of my book,Anatomy of a Trial: A Handbook for Young Lawyers, which was released last month by the American Bar Association, I outline in detail the ways in which mastering the art of rhetoric can work to a lawyer’s advantage in the courtroom. Many of my examples and inclusions are new to this edition.

In Anatomy of a Trial, I use real-life, running commentary to show how to hone your persuasive approach to the audience you are trying to reach. For example, the persuasive technique you might use to get your significant other to agree to some bold purchase would likely not be the same as what you might use to ask your boss or the managing partner at your firm to spend company dollars on an equally bold purchase. For some audiences, an emotional appeal might be the most persuasive, as in, “Honey, how many times in our lives will we have an opportunity like this – let’s live it up!” On the other hand, with the boss, you would likely find that an emphasis on long-term cost cutting or business development would be far more persuasive rhetoric.

Similarly, the most persuasive rhetoric in a trial before a jury of 12 in Los Angeles might not be the most persuasive rhetoric for a trial before a jury of six in Kansas, or before a judge, with no jury, in Maryland. For this reason, in my second edition of Anatomy of a Trial, I include commentary and examples from three trials. Two of the trials were featured in the original edition of the book and the third is new to this edition. The first trial involves a high-profile criminal case featuring several famous names on the political scene; the second is a civil case involving a medical malpractice claim in Maryland. The trial added to the second edition of the book involves a non-jury civil case I tried in federal court in Maryland. I have included it to show how the rhetoric you might choose for a case tried before a judge will likely differ from the rhetoric you would use before a jury.