Here are my top 10 books every trial attorney should read once a year:
1. Rules of the Road, Second Edition, by Rick Friedman & Patrick Malone
This is likely the most influential book I’ve come across in my time as a lawyer. Read it, and then read it again. I use the “rules” concept in my depositions as well as at trial. It is amazing how effective the “Rules of the Road” approach works.
2. Reptile, by David Ball & Don C. Keenan
I can’t figure out whether I like Reptile or Rules of the Road better. Both are the two most important books a trial attorney can read in my opinion. My suggestion is to read Rules of the Road first, then Reptile. Then Reptile first, and Rules of the Road Second. Did I say I like these two books?
3. David Ball on Damages, by David Ball (A Third Edition is scheduled for release in February 2011)
A great book that attorneys wanting to do trials—and do them well—need to read. The voir dire chapter is worth the price alone.
4. Polarizing the Case, by Rick Friedman
Is the defense calling your client a liar, cheat, and a fraud? You will thank the defense after reading this gem of a book. I come across this defense tactic in almost every case. This book teaches you how to embrace the defense’s accusations and make them look foolish. My favorite is, “Dr. Jones, when did my client start lying about her physical suffering?” I still haven’t heard a good answer from Dr. Jones to that question.
5. Rick Friedman on Becoming a Trial Lawyer, by Rick Friedman
Perhaps I should have read this book first. My recommendation to all trial attorneys is to read this book. It will change the way you view your role as an attorney helping people who have been harmed by other peoples/entities’ irresponsible actions.
6. Cross-Examination: Science and Techniques, by Larry S. Pozner and Roger Dodd
Want to know how to effectively cross-examine at deposition and trial? This is the only book you will ever need for that purpose.
7. Win Your Case, by Gerry Spence
A very easy read with insightful advice from one of the best trial attorneys. You just feel good reading this book.
8. Recovering for Psychological Injuries, Third Edition, by William A. Barton
I have not finished reading this book yet, but it is full of great ideas that you can use for all types of cases. You will need a copy of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) as well.
9. The Evidence Wheel, by Robert S. Arns
This book is for California attorneys. I was always confused on evidence before I read The Evidence Wheel. Now I have quick trial reflexes to handle the introduction of evidence I need for my case, and how to keep the opponent’s evidence out. You can also get The Trial Wheel by Robert S. Arns, which is a companion to The Evidence Wheel. Both books help you to be quick on your feet at trail, and right most of the time.
10. All books by Bryan A. Garner. The book I like the most is “The Winning Brief”. You will become a better writer after reading, digesting and then implementing Mr. Garner’s advice. (Please do not hold anything against Mr. Garner for my current writing abilities, as they were much worse before reading his books.)
11. I know, I said the top 10 books, but I have to throw in one more book. Logic For Lawyers, by Ruggero J. Aldisert. A tough read, but it definitely sharpens your legal reasoning—and helps you find your opponent’s lack thereof.