Lawyering Skills

We have suggestions regarding legal writing, client communication, continuing legal education, and more. You will also want to review our posts on legal ethics, practice management, and legal marketing.

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How Cross-Examination Bullying Can Wreck Your Case

When a lot of lawyers think of cross-examination, they think of a fight-to-the-death cage match between the lawyer and the witness. They think of scenes like these from prosecutor Juan Martinez’s cross-examination of Jodi Arias: Those of you who don’t want to do cross-examination like this can breathe easy—there’s a better way. You’ve guessed it; […]

Justices of the Peace, Thomas Ryan, William Young and Frank Davis sit on the bench at the Drouin Courthouse,Victoria

Lawyers Whose Direct Examinations Sound Like James Joyce Novels

Direct examination is one of the most important parts of trial. It is your vehicle for establishing the key facts in your case, laying the foundation for your evidence, and connecting with a jury. An effective direct examination doesn’t happen by accident. As Gerry Spence notes, it must be part of a bigger narrative: If […]

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5 Ways To Keep Your Client Occupied During Mediation Downtime

Let's spice things up with some much better ways to pass the time when you're locked in a room with someone (with whom you may only have a nodding acquaintance personally) for hours at a time.

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How To Give a Killer CLE Presentation

Preparing for a CLE and delivering one are two different beasts. Give a killer presentation with our list of best practices.

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Hacking Chaos: The Cornell Method of Note-Taking

It isn't an exaggeration to say that the Cornell Method helps me in every note-taking situation I've encountered in my professional life.

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How To Prepare for a CLE Presentation

If you've been to more than one or two CLEs, you know that very few lawyers are great at public speaking.

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Podcast #29: Brendan Kenny on What Lawyers Need to Know About E-Discovery

Brendan Kenny explains what every lawyer needs to know about e-discovery. But first, how to effectively disconnect your phone when you're on a vacation.

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Lawyers Who Aren’t Sure How Modern English Works

You don’t have to look far to find legalese in legal writing. Just take the standard closings in affidavits and declarations. Here are three variations  used in just one jurisdiction. We can do better. Start by reading Bryan Garner. As Mark Hermann notes, the jury needs to know that you sound like a human being: Remember: Deposition […]

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Expert Witnesses Who Think Money Probably Grows On Trees Or Something

How come so many expert witnesses don’t know or care how much they make? Do you know anyone who has no idea how much they make? The jury doesn’t know anyone like that either. Featured image: “green plant on gold coins” from Shutterstock.

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How To Be Better At Cross-Examination Than The Lawyer From Serial

Sometimes the best way to figure out how to do something is to first figure out how not to do it. If you want to learn how to cross-examine, why not start with listening (ending at 30:30) to how Cristina Gutierrez cross-examined Jay Wilds in the Adnan Syed case (the topic of last year’s Serial […]

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Why Creativity is Important to Good Lawyering

Law is rarely considered a creative profession. Most of us think of creatives as being poets and artists, not rule-following lawyers. But creativity simply means you have the ability to think of new ideas, and that is something a good lawyer does every day. Whether you are interpreting a case in a novel way, trying to grow the pie in a negotiation, or reframing a bad fact, you need to hone your creativity.

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Irving Younger’s 10 Commandments Of Cross Examination

If you will put these suggestions to use, if you will cross-examine in accordance with these suggestions, I can virtually guarantee — not that you will be a brilliant cross-examiner, but that you won’t be ashamed of yourself, you won’t be a buffoon in that courtroom. Whenever you do not comply with them, you will […]

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Could a Video Game Be a CLE?

Video games are fun. Continuing Legal Education, however, is not. What if there was a way to combine the two into something even mildly interesting, instead of just playing Candy Crush on your phone during a CLE lecture. A company called TransMedia Inc. developed a game several years ago called “Objection!” From the game’s description: The murder […]

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How to Have a Collegial Relationship with Opposing Counsel

It's easy to feel sorry for lawyers whose only claim to fame is their reputation for being difficult. But you have a reputation too, and a reputation for getting along is a valuable commodity. Continue to work at it, and you will see the benefits.

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12 Terrible CLE Audience Members (and How to Handle Them)

CLEs sometimes play host to strange audiences, especially as “reporting deadlines” loom. You may have lawyers in attendance who aren’t all that interested in what you have to say. Here's how to deal with the worst of them.