The Book Shelf
Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts. Robert L. Haig, Editor-in-chief. American Bar Association and West Group. 1998. To order, call 1-800-328-9352. Six volumes. 6,435 pages. $480, 15 percent discount to ABA members. Reviewed by Michael A. Pope of McDermott, Will & Emery, Chicago, a former president of the International Association of Defense Counsel.
Legal publishers have long sought to encourage sales to busy lawyers with the admonition, "This is the only book you will need." With only a few caveats, it appears that this impressive six-volume set may have achieved that distinction. By comprehensively covering the entire spectrum of substantive, procedural and strategic issues likely to be faced by most lawyers handling commercial litigation in federal court, it rates a very special place in the library of today's litigator.
A unique collaboration by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation and West Group has produced a valuable treatise of some 80 chapters, each authored by an experienced trial lawyer or judge. Robert L. Haig of Kelley Drye & Warren, New York City, served as editor-in-chief. This approach seems to have contributed to an usually well-written and practical presentation that actually makes for interesting reading. The wide range of subjects covered alone would recommend this treatise to most lawyers. Chapters on federal jurisdiction, removal, class action procedures, venue, pleading, and remedies provide broad coverage of these important topics.
The chapters are written by a bevy of outstanding practitioners, and they not only describe the law but also provide insight into strategy. For example, practical issues such as selecting expert witnesses, developing a discovery plan, and constructing a case concept are handled with insight and clarity. Each chapter contains numerous examples of specific cases and, in many instances, actual forms for use in motions, pleadings, instructions or judgments.
From agency to warranties
The first three volumes are generally devoted to the filing of a lawsuit, the preparation of the case for trial, including discovery, and the trial itself. Volumes IV through VI contain some 28 chapters on substantive legal topics ranging from agency and antitrust to warranties, and virtually everything in between. This combination provides even the most experienced trial lawyer with a handy summary of case law and legal argument on procedural issues, along with in-depth discussions of virtually every substantive law issue likely to arise.
While IADC members who try cases may find more value in the trial volumes, in-house counsel and our non-U.S., members may be more interested in the substantive law discussions. Nonetheless, all will benefit from the ready availability of both kinds of topics.
These volumes are intended for real trial lawyers, and the subjects covered are real-life issues. For example, former ABA President John Curtin, in his chapter "Trials" (Chapter 31) covers such practical issues as interacting with courtroom personnel, the effective presentation of stipulations and exhibits, and a discussion of how the trial of business cases differs from other trials. He concludes with his list of "Top Twenty Trial Tips." Noted Chicago lawyer Ed Foote in his chapter "Cross-examination" states unequivocally, "There are only five methods to be used in cross-examination." He goes on to list them with examples, and then turns to his ten rules for cross-examining expert witnesses.
Even the best need help
Even the most experienced lawyers need, from time to time, a refresher course on the equitable theories supporting specific performance or rescission (Chapter 41), as well as the case law on issue preclusion (Chapter 12) and the attorney-client privilege (Chapter 18). …