I'm hard pressed to think of a more useful tool for starting out in practice than Rick Friedman's Becoming a Trial Lawyer.
There's the classic nightmare: you're speaking to a room full of people and suddenly you realize you're as naked as the day you were born. Rick points out that being naked is exactly what you need to be in front of a jury. The qualities of a trial lawyer go deeper than a willingness to speak in public. You need to be vulnerable. You need to be willing to stand up in front of a jury and be authentic, you can’t pretend to be a version of yourself that you are not. As lawyers and law students, we crave status and attention and want to be the smartest person in the room—Rick's book offers lessons in becoming more humble, more vulnerable, and more in touch with our humanity in order to better connect with the human beings sitting on our juries.
I read this book in the weeks before my first jury trial and it gave me the confidence I needed to go in and be successful. The biggest takeaway is that Rick offers you tools that help you be your authentic self. We all roll our eyes at the circular adage"Just be yourself." But Rick offers concrete advice on how to achieve this and why it's important. Be humble, be kind, be vulnerable, do your homework, and speak the truth—easier said than done, but I found Rick's lessons to be invaluable and cathartic.
Rick's book also hits on what it takes to stay in the game and offers useful tools you can go back to on hard days. This is work that requires you to give all of yourself. While your friends are out drinking on a Saturday night, you've got to prep for your Tuesday trial. There's no way around it, you're going to miss out on things. Rick offers important insights for striking a balance in your personal life, including not becoming too self-righteous and avoiding the "Cancer of Comparison." Rick is one of America's most successful trial lawyers, but in a profession of gatekeeping, he uses this book to share what has allowed him to stay at the top of our profession. This book is worth the buy, and I plan to use it for years to come.