The Plaintiff Lawyer's Playbook: Insights and Recommendations on How to Prepare for Success in Settling and Trying Cases

Elden Rosenthal

Format: Paperback
Condition: New
Sale price$45.00

Most trial lawyers are in trial only a few weeks each year. They spend the other forty to fifty weeks interviewing clients, preparing for and taking depositions, hiring and consulting experts, and preparing and participating in mediations. The Playbook is about those weeks and tasks. It is a book that gives tips and guidance for what plaintiffs’ lawyers spend most of their time actually doing.

Author Elden Rosenthal is a trial attorney of forty-seven years’ experience whose courtroom successes earned him national recognition and achievement awards from the Oregon Chapter of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the ACLU of Oregon, and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

Rosenthal provides a concise, nuts-and-bolts guide to litigation best practices that will help make you a better lawyer.

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Paperback: 178 pages; 1st edition (2019); ISBN: 9781941007884
Publisher: Trial Guides, LLC

Publisher’s Note



1. A Trial Lawyer’s Point of View

Tenet 1: Keep Clients Informed

Tenet 2: Like Your Client

Tenet 3: Treat Every Case As If You’re Going to Trial

2. First Things First

Evaluate the Statute of Limitations

Recognize Your Reason for Taking the Case

Avoid Conflicts of Interest

Make Sure There Is No Pending Bankruptcy

3. The Attorney–Client Bargain

Enter into a Written Retainer Agreement

Establish Expectations

Assign Tasks to Your Client

Discuss Social Media

Discuss Communication Expectations

Legal Representation Is a Partnership

4. Decide Early On: Do I Associate Co-Counsel?

5. The Trial Notebook

6. Prefiling Investigation

Visit Accident Scenes as Early as Possible

Preserve Potential Physical Trial Evidence

Interview Witnesses

Research the Parties

Collect Records

Hire Experts

Research the Law

7. Selecting the Parties

Selecting the Plaintiff

Selecting the Defendants

8. Pleading the Plaintiff’s Case

9. Paper Discovery and Protective Orders

10. Preparing for Deposition: Defendants and Defense Witnesses

The Three Primary Purposes of Discovery Depositions

Prepare a Deposition Outline

Setting Up the Witness for Trial Cross-Examination

Setting the Order of Deposition Testimony

Client and Colleague Attendance

Location of Depositions


11. Preparing for Deposition: Your Client

12. Taking Defense Depositions

Court Reporters


Deposition Demeanor

Questioning the Witness

New Documents

Dealing with Improper Defense Tactics

Concluding the Deposition

After the Deposition

13. Defending Your Client’s Deposition


15. Hiring Expert Witnesses

Overarching Approach

Finding the Right Expert

Keeping Experts Informed and Engaged

16. Conducting Focus Groups

17. When Things Don’t Go Well

18. Exploring Settlement

When to Negotiate

Make an Effort to Negotiate Lawyer to Lawyer

The Plaintiff’s Demand

Why Mediation?

Mediation Guidelines

Mediation Ethics

Concluding a Mediation

19. Preparing Yourself for Trial

Take Care of Yourself

20. Preparing Witnesses for Trial

Lay Witnesses



21. The Nitty-Gritty of Trial Prep

22. Trial!

Voir Dire


Direct and Cross

Closing Argument

Rebuttal Argument

23. The Challenge We Face


Appendix A: Retainer Language Relating to Court-Awarded Attorney Fees

Appendix B: Model Stipulated Protective Order

Appendix C: Form Letter to Client Regarding Deposition

Appendix D: Focus Group Questionnaire

What Legal Leaders Are Saying

The Plaintiff Lawyer’s Playbook should be mandatory reading for every trial lawyer, especially those who are new to the profession. Had it been written forty years ago, I would have given a copy to every associate that came through my office since then and demanded that they read it the first week in my office.

— James McElroy, San Diego trial lawyer, recipient of the Southern Poverty Law Center Distinguished Service Award, the AAJ Defense of Civil Liberties Award, and the Planned Parenthood Margaret Sanger Award

Elden Rosenthal has given us a gem. The Plaintiff Lawyer’s Playbook is a distillation of the wisdom born of a lifetime of trial practice at the highest level.

— Kelly Rudd, Wyoming trial lawyer and managing partner of Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd

Elden Rosenthal’s Plaintiff Lawyer’s Playbook is accurate, brief, and clear. It’s chock-full of the essentials necessary to prepare civil cases for their maximum potential. Every aspiring jury trial lawyer should have this book in their toolbox.

— Bill Barton, Oregon trial lawyer, author of Recovering for Psychological Injuries, fellow of the International Society of Barristers, and past president of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association and the Western Trial Lawyers Association