One thing I love about being a personal injury lawyer (besides all the great jokes that go with it) is that there is always room for improvement. Yes, that’s right. Even after twenty-five years of representing injured people against big companies and insurance carriers, I can still learn to do my job better. Since I can always strive to get better, I never get bored with this job.
Case in point: Recently a very accomplished fellow New York personal injury lawyer recommended a book to me, “Advanced Depositions”, by Phillip Miller and Paul Scoptur. The book is designed to teach experienced personal injury lawyers like me additional skills for taking depositions, especially of experts and “tough” witnesses who might be evasive or tricky.
I admit I picked up the book somewhat skeptically, figuring I would already know everything in the book and that it would be a mere “refresher” course for me. But I was wrong. I learned some knew techniques for “boxing in” witnesses, for “exhausting” their knowledge on a topic, and for ensuring that the deposition transcript reads well so the jury can easily understand the “points” I scored. I also learned better ways to make corporate witnesses concede that certain safety rules apply to the conduct of their employees, and even perhaps to get them to admit the rules were broken.
I plan to review the book before every deposition for a while until the techniques in it become second nature. This book is now on my office shelf right next to three other books I frequently consult before depositions and trials: “Rules of the Road” by Rick Friedman, “Damages” by David Ball and “Reptile” by Don Keenan and David Ball.
There is a moral to this story. Bear with me: The ancient Greek Hippocrates once quipped, Ars longa, vita brevis, which means “Art is long, life is short“. Hippocrates was a physician who made this statement in the introduction of a medical text. By “art” he really meant a “technique” or “skill”. In plain English, he meant that it takes such a long time to perfect one’s expertise (in, say, medicine) that even a whole lifetime is not enough to get to perfection.
The same is true of law. The “art” of practicing law is long, and life is short. The best attorneys keep striving for perfection, but never quite get there. Life is too short!
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Central NY and Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.