August 19, 2013
Best Books on Lawyering: Mark Herrmann's "The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law".
When you finally do take a deposition, I want you to remember two things...
--Mark Herrmann, page 59, Chapter 6: "Seven Hours Locked in a Room."
A few years ago, while I was preparing for a two-week jury trial we defended, one before a very new but skillful federal judge that turned out to be a lively three-week proceeding with a manic post-trial motion phase, Mark Herrmann was kind enough to send me a copy of his The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law (American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, 2006). I am looking at the title page right now: "For Dan Hull, Mark Herrmann, August 2009". So I sent Mark a thank-you note and put his already well-received book aside. Duty called, witnesses flew in and the trial process went on that special bender of its own.
Finally, three years later, I read it, and I wish I had read it before. More than anything, I wish I had given the book to two talented young lawyers who had assisted us and who, in my judgment, were clearly not having enough fun with the sudden turns, surprises and yeoman demands of the trial process during that September of 2009.
If you're a associate doing relatively complex corporate work--especially a young litigator in years 1 through 4 who is trying to master the Miracle and Holy Surprise of nonmovant's Rule 56(d), or just trying understand the differences between Rules 30, 34 and 45 without pulling a hamstring--do buy and read The Curmudgeon's Guide. Like today. Please do it.
Part-survival guide, part-The Art of War for the eager-smart but painfully clueless, it is as good a book on practicing law in many respects as Jim Freund's classic Lawyering: A Realistic Approach to Legal Practice, published nearly thirty years before but which (like Freund himself) is more deal and transactions-oriented. I could pay Mark and his book no greater compliment. And for a young fire-breathing corporate "trial lawyer"--yes, they still have those in both boutique and larger firms--Mark's 135-page straight-talking volume is a better investment of time than anything I have read. For litigators, it is simply the best. The Curmudgeon's Guide is also a no-nonsense primer on the Art of the Client and Customer.
Posted by JD Hull at August 19, 2013 10:19 PM
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