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Thursday, January 26, 2012


Hear Ye, Hear Ye, All Rise and go immediately to a local bookstore (or computer terminal) to read “See You in Court” by Barry Willdorf, before you actually have to be in court.  Willdorf is a real find:  a seasoned, first-rate trial lawyer, who writes in accessible English rather than legalese.  His book is a wonderful primer, filled with anecdotes and insights about a system you only think you know.   It will make every legal thriller, movie, TV and news report all the more interesting, once you know the inside story.  As a bonus, it is not only fun to read, it can literally save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars by answering questions you would otherwise have to ask your own lawyer, while the billable-hour clock runs. Danny Greenberg is former President and Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society of New York.  He was formerly Director of Clinical Programs at Harvard Law School

This is an outstanding book.  It gives the reader a good picture of how lawsuits proceed in the real world of lawyers and courts.  Anyone interested in litigation as a party, witness or observer should read this book if they want to understand the process. Peter C. Carstensen, George H. Young-Bascom Professor of Law University of Wisconsin Law School
It’s the rare hermit who can make it through life in America these days without ending up as a juror, witness or party to a lawsuit or criminal trial.  In See You In Court!, Barry Willdorf, after decades in the legal trenches, has written the essential primer on everything people need to know to understand and survive the tribulations of trials in our litigious society. From explaining the roles played by judges, lawyers, investigators, experts, jurors, and clerks to the basics of evidence, opening statements, witnesses, cross examination, jury instructions, closing arguments and verdicts, Willdorf illuminates it all in an engaging and entertaining style that painlessly demystifying the system and helps dispel various myths and misunderstandings that have undermined confidence in our courts.”  Stephen Rohde, author of /American Words of Freedom/ and /Freedom of Assembly / past President of both the ACLU of Southern California and the Beverly Hills Bar Association and a founder of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.

Barry’s book does what all good lawyers should do: make the law accessible to laypersons. Even when you have a good attorney at your side, it is easy to be overwhelmed when dealing with the legal system, and that is especially true for people with disabilities, including HIV/AIDS. With Barry’s lifetime of commitment to representing the underdog, he shows that he has the wit and wisdom-and the heart- to help folks during some of their most vulnerable periods.” Bill Hersch, Executive Director of San Francisco’s AIDS LEGAL REFERRAL PANEL.


  1. I am also an attorney who writes fiction. You're right about the need for both of observation, but I believe in legal writing you're telling a story designed to convince a trier of fact to take your client's position. A good lawyer is a natural storyteller, and many of my colleagues are wonderful raconteurs and comedians.

    Lawyers can benefit from writing fiction. In law school we are taught to write in convoluted, extended sentences using high-falutin' words to impress others with the quality of our education. I learned from writing fiction that judges and arbitrators appreciate simple, direct language. As I read once in an article in California Lawyer magazine, at the dinner table your wouldn't ask someone to "pass said salt," so why say it in your legal writing. When I simplified my language and sentence structure, I found judges not only found in my clients' favor, but complimented me on the clarity and quality of my legal writing.

  2. Hi Alyssa,
    You are right of course. Good writing can even work with judges, that is unless they get jealous. And a good story always works with juries. My epiphany has come with circumstantial evidence. Despite the jury instruction that tells jurors that circumstantial evidence is as good as an eye witness, or maybe because there is a need for the instruction, we tend, as lawyers to thing of circumstantial evidence as a kind of second class citizen. But for novelists, it is really a goldmine for narrative. I am reminded how children view the world with awe while we adults take the very same sight for granted.