Rick Friedman On Becoming a Trial Lawyer is a book that every civil plaintiff lawyer and criminal defense lawyer should read.
Combining nuts-and-bolts practical advice with inspirational insights, he guides us on the journey every trial lawyer must take, from the struggle to gain trial experience to the search for happiness in a career fraught with conflict and frustration. Along the way he addresses topics as diverse as common mistakes made by even the most experienced trial lawyer to the benefits of psychotherapy.
The book is divided into three parts: (1) Entering the Jungle [why even do it]; (2) Traps in the Jungle [practice observations and pointers]; and (3) At Home in the Jungle [dealing with personal traps in a difficult profession].
Each part of the book is good. Along the way, Friedman makes numerous observations that are spot on, including:
- Being a good trial lawyer is hard—real hard. He states: “[i]n any particular case you will almost always be outmanned and outgunned.” The only answer is hard work: “[s]imply put, to even have a chance, you have to outwork your opponents—and they work hard.”
- If you want trial experience you are going to have to get it on your own, and money is a huge obstacle to getting it.
- Successful trial lawyers pay a huge personal price for going to trial (because it is so hard).
- Emotional resilience is a job requirement.
- You better love it—because there will be times when you hate it.
- You have to be able to handle losing.
- Your family didn’t sign up to be a trial lawyer, so it’s no excuse for you to be an ass to them.
- “If the system were fair, we’d hardly be needed. With fair, impartial judges, scrupulously honest oppoents, and intelligent, perceptive jurors, how much would a client need us?”
- “Our clients hire us to enter an unfair system and extract some justice from it.”
There is a lot more there and I highly recommend the entire book. It is only about 200 pages and can be read in a few sittings. If you represent individual plaintiffs or criminal defendants, it will make you feel better about your journey. And who doesn’t want to feel better?