I was contacted a while back by a publicist with Planned Television Arts offering me a free copy of Your Witness: Lessons on Cross-Examination and Life from Great Chicago Trial Lawyers. She explained that even though I am not a lawyer, they really thought the book would be appealing to anyone with an interest in the legal world, including those of us who work on the more technical side of it.
Turns out she was right. Not only are the 50 chapters nice easy to read stories, but they provide some great insight into much more than how to cross examine a witness. Obviously, there are some highly entertaining anecdotes and some great examples of how to cross-examine, but there’s also quite a bit to take away about how to deal with people in any situation. Personally, I got some pretty good insight into how to read people, the importance of knowing all your facts, having done all your research, and the importance of having trustworthy people around you when you need to depend on their work.
Surely those are lessons that all of us could stand to be reminded of from time to time, and when you combine that with the experience the various authors bring to the table, and the stores that come from that experience, it makes for a very interesting read.
In fact, reading it sort of reminded me of the “After the Catch” show that has spun off recently from the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch series. (At least the way that show started before they started screwing it up this year with too much planned discussion!) Just get a bunch of experienced fishermen to sit down at a table in a bar and start telling stories. It was seriously interesting and entertaining, much like listening to cabbies, or ER doctors. You don’t have to be one of them, or have any desire to be one, to find the stories highly entertaining.
This book is sort of like that, reading it I felt like I was getting to witness some of that story-swapping between attorneys. Obviously, working at a law firm, I found that interesting, but I think anyone with some interest into how trials work, and how attorney’s approach them, would find it pretty interesting as well!
As it turns out, my inability to get this book read quickly turned into a timely coincidence, and the publisher is doing a blog for the month of August. It’s called your Witness for 30 Days, and it’s featuring short quips and tips from the book.