Francis L. Wellman was a practicing attorney in New York and an assistant district attorney in New York City. He wrote one of the earliest and most influential practical skills texts for lawyers called The Art of Cross Examination. The first edition was published in 1903 and is still in print. Wellman initially intended for the book to convince his two sons to go into law.
Wellman compiled examples of cross examination techniques from notable attorneys of his day to write the first section of the book. Notable references include Abraham Lincoln during his years as a trial lawyer, Justice Benjamin Cardozo, U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Butler and others. The second part of the book contains cross examinations demonstrating the methods described in the first part of the book. The Art of Cross Examination gives colorful interesting facts on the trial participants, as well as insights into the claims made in the underlying case. The captivating nature of the case facts helped the book become popular outside the legal profession.
The Art of Cross Examination has influenced generations of trial lawyers, and continues to be used in law schools today despite the book containing advice that would be dangerous to use with modern jurors. Trial Guides’ version of Wellman’s book contains a Preface, commentary and a conclusion by noted cross examination expert Roger Dodd, who puts Wellman’s work from 1903 into better perspective for today.