How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer, Second Edition is a compendium of essentially every aspect of the civil litigation process and then some, told with humor and erudition. This book does not purport to be an academic treatment of the subject. Instead, it provides practical pointers on everything from dealing with clients and adversaries to managing ethical dilemmas to marketing one’s practice and learning how to avoid alienating prospective clients at the next fund-raising dinner. The section on effective deposition-taking is a first-rate primer on that subject. Taken as a whole, the book provides a comprehensive checklist and how-to guide for civil litigators. This book is equivalent to having a sophisticated and accomplished trial lawyer in the family who is willing to take the time to share the fruits of his long experience and savvy insight on everything that matters in the civil litigation process.
Two themes permeate this book. First, in the Edelstein view of the litigation process, less is almost always more. As noted, briefs should be edited to the point of gem-like brilliance. Significantly, the cogency that underlies the most effective briefs also informs other key aspects of the litigation process, from determining the necessary scope of discovery to sifting through the claims to present in a complaint or to pursue at trial. Second, every trial lawyer needs to identify the themes that will advance the client’s cause and make certain that every litigation judgment is consistent with those themes. Following the precepts of this book will maximize every client’s opportunity for success while minimizing the needless costs and expense that have given the contemporary litigation process such a bad reputation.
Litigation is a challenging vocation. It demands not only intellectual ability but attention to detail, perseverance, creative problem-solving, persuasiveness, focus, integrity, and the ability to press the client’s position with enthusiasm while maintaining sufficient detachment to provide the objective, independent advice the client requires. How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer, Second Edition is an invaluable guide to each of these requirements and more.
Praise for How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer, Second Edition
"I read Stewart Edelstein’s extraordinary book through different lenses – the first as a trial judge for 25 years and then as a trial lawyer who grew up in the profession, forced to learn trial law in the trenches, struggling often with the incomplete anecdotal advice of my seniors and without the benefit of such a marvelous written guide as this. In my view as a trial judge, Edelstein’s advice, particularly in those chapters dealing with writing and court appearances is as much about thoughtfulness, directness and simplicity as it is about preparedness. His precise insights are those virtually any judge would like a practitioner to have and are spot on. The brilliance of the book, of course, is in the way it simply and logically takes any confusion and apprehension out of the litigation process, in a complete way escorting the reader by the hand from meeting the client through trial. Finally, having grown up in a family of trial lawyers, I know first hand the accuracy and importance of his thoughts in the last chapter of the book [“Succeeding in Your Practice and in Your Life”] and it is not to be missed."
-Judge Jeffrey M. Atlas, retired New York State Supreme Court Justice, retired trial lawyer and lecturer in law at Columbia Law School.
"Stewart Edelstein's "How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer, Second Edition" is misnamed. The title should be "How to Succeed as a Provider of Valuable Practical Advice to Lawyers." The book is nothing short of amazing, chock full of sage advice on the whole panoply of issues relating to how to practice law as well as how to achieve a healthy balance between the lawyer's professional and personal lives. Many lawyers only find out the hard way on such critical matters as how to decide whether to accept a new client and what to do with a client who insists upon micromanaging the representation. How to charge for your services? What if there is a fee dispute? How to prepare for a deposition or write a motion (one of my favorite parts of this book)? The book advises but never pontificates. The author's love of literature and music, as well as his sense of humor, stand him in good stead, helping to illustrate key points. Among the book's many strengths are useful Practice Checklists on a host of questions, ranging from discovery to Alternative Dispute Resolution. It also presents a series of challenging ethics scenarios. Whether the reader is fresh out of law school or an old hand, this book will be invaluable. It should be read once, straight through, then kept at the ready for more specific reference. Law firms will do well to leave a copy on the desk of every new associate."
-Eugene R. Fidell, Senior Research Scholar in Law and Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School
"There are many excellent books on Trial Advocacy, but Stewart Edelstein’s How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer is among the best of the best. It is extremely thorough, practical and accessible. It is also one of those rare volumes that is equally beneficial to practitioners of all skill levels. Edelstein is an engaging writer and the book contains countless litigation insights and general trial practice (and life) lessons. I keep How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer near my desk and frequently reach for it, and I advise my students to consult it frequently. I am proud to count Stewart Edelstein as one of Cornell Law School’s distinguished alumni and I thank him for service to lawyers and law students in writing this excellent book."
-John H. Blume, Samuel F. Leibowitz Professor of Trial Techniques, Cornell Law School
"Anyone engaged in litigation anywhere should purchase this invaluable contribution to the legal literature without delay. It is an essential resource for young lawyers, but even wizened old veterans will benefit from its soup-to-nuts lessons, tips and insights. Beautifully organized and engagingly written, this book provides a treasure trove of pragmatic, useful suggestions, reflecting the author’s deep knowledge, experience and wisdom. From its comprehensive checklists, to its discussion of dealing with clients, to its advice on effective writing, to its guidance on appearing in court, handling ethical dilemmas, and coping with electronically stored information (ESI), this book covers every nook and cranny of interest to trial lawyers. It is also highly unusual in its attention to the personal aspects of lawyering—coping with stress, maintaining balance in life, and getting along with colleagues and adversaries. Written with the humor and deep insight that comes only with years of experience, this book sets the standard in its field. If you read only one book on lawyering and trial practice in the years to come, make this it."
-Douglas S. Lavine, Connecticut Appellate Court judge and author of Cardinal Rules of Advocacy and Questions From the Bench