Deeper Cuts Book Review

Reviewed by Ezra Smith 

Originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of ATLA Docketa quarterly publication from the Arkansas Trial Lawyer Association

Deeper Cuts is broken down into five sections.

Part One: “Wisdom of the Whys” covers an introductory sweep across any “dos and don'ts” for trial lawyers. This section focuses a lot on language and ways attorneys can and should rethink the essential facts of their case.

Part Two: “Powerful New Trial Tools” covers many parts of a trial. I found its examples and sections comparing potential verbiage to be extremely helpful and illustrative. The examples can be long, but they do a good job of conveying the author’s point. The example opening and closing arguments in relation to asking for full value were excellent guides on how to approach the hard question of asking the jury for actual dollars. I found this section to be particularly helpful to a new lawyer who may be (like me) struggling with making those hard asks of the jury the first few times.

Part Three: “Winning Before the Beginning” covers so many of the hurdles all lawyers face in the pre litigation phase of their case. The first three chapters cover the common problems of gaps in client treatment, little property damage, and prior injuries/aggravation and demonstrate methods to overcome these problems. I found the chapter in this section on winning the deposition of defense witnesses extremely helpful. This section covers so many of the near constant strategies and tricks that defense witnesses will use in an attempt to discredit or diminish your client’s injuries. Here, the sample questions and framing were very helpful and broken down into pre-crash, crash, and post-crash stages to assist attorneys with pushing back on the common tropes employed by the defense. Along a similar line, the checklists provided in this chapter were a big help and were also divided into discrete stages making it easier to pull from the book and utilize in real practice.

Part Four: “Medical Malpractice: Knocking Down Barriers'' was not particularly relevant to my practice, but I did find the three chapters under this section very interesting. The author encourages practitioners who do not practice medical malpractice to still read these sections and I did take away a few lessons, especially from the second chapter, which demonstrates how to build your case around the standard of care from the early phases of discovery through to the trial. The relevant sections in this chapter talking about turning the standard of care into a job made a lot of sense to me. While having never tried a medical malpractice case, I can still imagine that these tactics, which involve cutting through the legalese of nebulous terms like “the standard of care” would be very effective.

Part Five: “Silver Linings” is very brief and wraps up the book. This section offers many tips for litigants in a post Covid-19 world, but what I found most inspiring was this section's recounting of the author’s trial during the 9-11 attacks. I will not give away the full story, but it is an inspiring reminder that juries take their solemn duty very seriously and are capable of discharging it even under the most stressful domestic political circumstances.

Overall, Deeper Cuts is a book I would recommend to both experienced and novice attorneys. I felt like I took a lot away from the book that I will certainly try my best to incorporate into my practice.