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Resolve to be a Complete Lawyer: A Review of Judge Joe Anderson's 'Effective Courtroom Advocacy'

In Judge Joe Anderson's new book, "Effective Courtroom Advocacy," the first question he asks is why another book on trial advocacy? There are plenty of books out there already that cover this area from A to Z, so why one more? Well it only takes a brief overview of this book to see the answer to this question - Judge Anderson has provided arguably the best book on trial advocacy by giving both substance and personal advice he has gleaned from over 30 years on the federal bench.

His book is both easily digestible as a sit down book from cover to cover, and also a reference book that attorneys can always flip back to. The substance, style, and stories make this book one of the most effective an attorney can have on their desk.


All it takes is a quick perusal of the table of contents to see that all of the trial preparation you need is covered:

Chapter 1: Trial Techniques

Chapter 2: What Today's Jurors Really Think

Chapter 3: How to Handle Judges

Chapter 4: Common Mistakes to Avoid

Chapter 5: A Survey of the Most Misunderstood and Misapplied Evidence Rules

Chapter 6: A Tangled Web: A Mock Trial Script and Case Study on the Federal Rules of Evidence

Chapter 7: Examples of Good Advocacy

This book explains everything you should be aware of when preparing for trial and when you are actually in trial. It gives examples of trial notebooks, opening statements, video depositions, and all the other things you will likely encounter. It is also written in an orderly fashion, in the same manner you would need if you were preparing for your first trial.


Judge Anderson calls it like he sees it - and this is exactly what any attorney wants when they're trying to figure out how to win their next trial. Judge Anderson explains in his personal style what he sees attorneys doing wrong, and right, and how they can fix this in their next trial or throughout their career.

My favorite chapter (let's call it a little self-reflection for me), is "Chapter 4 - Common Mistakes to Avoid." This chapter lays it all out there. It goes through things you thought you might be doing wrong, and more importantly it goes through things you didn't even know you didn't know.


Throughout the book, Judge Anderson plugs stories in that he has been apart of throughout his impressive career. The importance of these stories is showing the application of his teachings. It is one thing to say the rule is X - but it is much clearer and lasting to show the rule in application. At the end of the book, Judge Anderson provides actual transcripts of great openings, closings, and other arguments by some of the best attorneys in our state. It is the perfect way to wrap up a book full of rules and lessons to show how the best did it before you (me) were even born.

The Rules of Evidence

Just when I think I am starting to get the hang of the rules, I realize how little I know and how much more there is. But this book, without a doubt, does the best job I have ever of explaining the rules of evidence and the main subject areas that arise. Just take a look at the contents for this chapter and you can see that it covers the areas that usually arise in trials:

Final Word

Judge Anderson has a chapter dedicated to common mistakes he sees. And the first one is about attorneys who are "Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time." Judge Anderson sees this attorney as not interested in substantive or procedural law, but rather the flash of the courtroom. His lasting advice is simple and this book is the first step in fixing it:

Resolve to be a complete lawyer.

Judge Joseph Anderson's book is available from the South Carolina Bar and can be found here.


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