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Define Foundational “Human” Issues to Win Your Case
by Mark Mandell

July 8, 2015

If you want to succeed in trial, then you have to find the reasons that will make your juries care. To do that, you have to identify the I just can’t get over issues in your cases and structure your arguments around them. This article gives examples of how Mark Mandell, Inner Circle member and past AAJ (then ATLA) president, applies these vital issues to build the foundations he uses to frame and win his cases: From Mark Mandell: I first came up with the phrase, I just can’t get over after a medical negligence case I tried in July 2010, involving multiple claims of wrongdoing against a foot surgeon. The following are a few key facts from the case: No up-to-date pre-op x-rays were obtained of the foot in question before the surgery. The last previous x-rays taken before the surgery were sixteen months old. The incision made at surgery was too short and too low in the foot. This created difficulty in visualizing the operative field. The surgeon removed both sesamoids from underneath the right big toe without a good reason for doing so. As a result, the plaintiff developed a claw toe and other problems. Informed consent and medical battery were also issues the jury resolved in the plaintiff’s favor. For this case, we convened a number of pretrial focus groups. The group members were highly critical of the defendant’s choice not to order up-to-date pre-op x-rays. His excuse had been that he had enough other evidence that the x-rays would not have made any difference in his surgical plan. During .. Read more

Ken Levinson Reviews: On Becoming a Trial Lawyer by Rick Friedman

July 1, 2015

“There are a plethora of books and resources to improve your technical skills. But among the countless tomes and guides on shelves these days, Rick Friedman’s On Becoming a Trial Lawyer provides a decidedly fresh perspective on the mechanics and traits necessary to become an effective trial lawyer. Perhaps the fact that Friedman admits he isn’t a “naturally” gifted trial lawyer helps us to feel this way. It’s this encouraging sense of honesty that gives him credibility; a candid approach for the newly minted—even veteran—attorneys who might feel discouraged by recent shortcomings. His insights are often an invigorating reminder of why lawyers fight so hard for their clients. By book’s end, your instinct is to put his ideas into action. Divided into three sections, On Becoming a Trial Lawyer offers step-by-step analyses, tutorials, and anecdotes that provide helpful insight into our chosen profession. He doles out practical advice: watch trials, volunteer, try cases despite monetary incentives to settle, and bring in co-counsel. He dispels all-too-common myths: trial lawyers are born, not made; it’s too late to start learning; and the most well-suited trial lawyers never fall on hard times. As much as it is a book about self-improvement, Friedman’s book is also about self-motivation. More to the point, Friedman’s work is largely intended for self-reflection, making note of the fact that technique is important, but that a trial lawyer must be willing to give him or herself to the jury to be vulnerable.” You can download the full review here