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.

Need more ideas? Join other innovative lawyers in the Lawyerist LAB.


Poverty, Priorities, and Clients

When you represent impoverished clients, you need to think differently about your role and their priorities.

Steve Martin

Want To Destroy Your Case? Throw In The Kitchen Sink.

Before we were even lawyers, law school trained us to find the most creative arguments possible, and to never leave one out. That’s how we passed our Torts exam—we identified 18 causes of action in a simple slip-and-fall hypothetical. But now we’re in the real world of law practice. The Stakes Are High If your […]


How to Use Character Judgments to Win Arguments

There’s no getting around moral judgments. We all make judgments; juries are no exception. Trial consultant Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm describes how this works: …the ability to identify good people matters far more than the ability to identify good acts….[W]e often mix our views of consequences with our views of character. Even harmless actions are more likely to be worthy […]


How To Lose Your Case

I didn’t realize that attorneys would prefer to lose, not win, their case. But if your goal is losing, this article is for you. Be sure to incorporate these ideas from my law clerk friends into your motions and briefs — if you want to lose your case.


This Is What Happens When Lawyers Try To Be Funny

Attempts at humor usually fall flat. —Guide for Counsel in Cases to Be Argued Before the Supreme Court of the United States, Part II, pg. 10 (October Term 2014). So says the highest court in the land, but it hasn’t stopped lawyers from trying to be funny. This is what happens when they fail. Knock-Knock […]


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 […]


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Image from page 281 of "Gossip in the first decade of Victoria's reign" (1903) at

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 […]

growing money in soil

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.


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 […]