Rave Review of Stewart Edelstein's Book, "How To Succeed As A Trial Lawyer" in Trial Magazine
December 2013, Volume 49, No. 12
Wit and wisdom
How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer
American Bar Association
410 pp., $129.95
Reviewed by Annika K. Martin
In How to Succeed as a Trial Lawyer, litigator Stewart Edelstein distills his 40 years of expertise and insight into a practical and approachable guide to everything you need to know to thrive in this challenging profession.
The book is an invaluable resource for young lawyers—and should be at the top of the gift list for new law school graduates—but its benefits for seasoned practitioners must not be overlooked. Anyone who reads it will learn something about how to improve his or her practice. Filled with tips, principles, and best practices, it is a comprehensive compendium of everything you didn’t learn in law school (unless you took Edelstein’s civil litigation practice course at Yale Law School, on which this book is based).
Edelstein, who practices law in Bridgeport, Conn., covers the range of skills that are necessary to succeed and survive as a litigator. In addition to the usual topics, including conducting and defending depositions, writing briefs, presenting oral arguments, and mediating or arbitrating disputes, he offers insightful advice on the critical but oft-overlooked work of day-to-day practice: managing and drafting emails, dealing with your staff and colleagues, retaining and handling clients, managing and billing your time, marketing yourself and your practice, and balancing work and life. His advice is sometimes simple but always effective: for example, to avoid forgetting to attach a document to an email, as soon as you type words such as “I have attached,” stop typing and attach the intended file to the email.
An appendix on cogent writing is as entertaining as it is sensible and contains more pearls of wisdom and broadly applicable lessons than many wordier works on the topic. Another appendix offers instructive ethics puzzles that illustrate the gray areas lawyers encounter daily and must handle appropriately.
The book can be read cover to cover, but you also can consult it periodically as a desk reference on any given topic. At the end of each chapter, a bullet-point checklist summarizes the chapter’s key points; these can be particularly useful as quick refreshers if you need to brush up on best practices for mediation or oral argument, for example.
Edelstein’s straightforward, congenial writing is peppered with shrewd insights, classical and literary references, wry New Yorker cartoons, and apt quotes from a wide range of wits and sages. Reading this book will give any litigator a boost up the ladder, no matter what rung you’re currently on—and it is enjoyable and entertaining, to boot.
Annika K. Martin is an associate with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in New York City.