A must read for all practicing trial attorneys – The Rules of the Road: A Plaintiff's Attorney's Guide to Evidence takes the reader on a journey from the first filing of the complaint to the discovery, to the use of experts and of documents in preparation for the trial, and then for the crucial techniques required to win each trial, all using the rules of the road.
The Rules on the Road is the US best-selling text on proving responsibility. Since hitting the shelves in 2006, it has helped lawyers across the country win six, seven and eight-figure sentences in cases of heavy liability. The book is the basis of an American Association for Justice Trial College, which is the subject of many CLE lectures by the nation's leading trial lawyers, and is also taught in law school law courses. The book contains many examples and explanations that come directly from actual panties, deposits and proof sheets. These examples illustrate how these principles work, while at the same time leaving the reader to adapt the concepts they are learning to their own case.
So, what are the rules of the road?
At its most basic level, the Rules of the Road is a technique used to train the trial lawyer, and then the judge and the jury, on the basic principles of the case that require the dispute to be resolved based on the obligations the defendant has violated and for which it should be held accountable
As lawyers, we venture into complex areas of human endeavor – technology, architecture, insurance – and we ask the jury to follow us there. Each of these areas has many complex standards, customs, rules, principles and regulations that are not known or even understood by the average person. It is the job of the complainant's lawyer to divide the complex principles of a case into digestible and easily understandable concepts for the jury. By doing this, plaintiffs' attorneys can defeat the three weapons each defense attorney uses to try to beat a plaintiff's case: complexity, confusion, and obscurity.
The book creates a formula for constructing "rules" – meaning principles that cannot be contested. , even by opposing counsel and their witnesses – which are divided into bite-sized, digestible information that all lawyers can understand regardless of their prior background. These rules can create the roadmap to lead all plaintiffs' attorneys to victory. Rich Friedman, a longtime friend and colleague of Chip Merlin, talked about some of the reasons why I wrote this book on his website:
We wrote this book for our other attorneys representing consumers, patients and other real people in litigation to deal with injustice and harm. Between us, we have more than four decades of experience in preparing and trying cases. We have tasted the ashes of unfair defeat. We have also had great success. We love our profession and fight against the truths that are regularly purged today by the rich and powerful who do not like it when we hold them accountable in court. Each time our side loses, the other side is sad that another troubled trial has blazed out. Most often, we believe the opposite is true: that voluntary defenses have prevailed due to complexity, confusion and ambiguity.
In the end, this book is about how to breathe life into ambiguous legal standards and create an undeniable standard for all – judges, juries and prosecutors – to see. The standard must be as clear as crossing a double yellow line on a highway.
As an policyholder's advocate, one of my favorite parts of the book is where the authors break down how to create a principle or standard that helps solve a case, it is also easy for the jury to understand. In the insurance world, there are many complex terms, principles or standards that a jury may not understand. This book teaches you how to break it down. For example:
Cal. Provision Code § 2695.4 (a): Each insurer must disclose the first party's application or beneficiary, all benefits, coverage, time limits or other provisions of an insurance policy issued by the insurer that may apply to the claim presented to the applicant. Where additional benefits can reasonably be paid under an insured insurance policy upon receipt of additional proof of claim, the insurer shall immediately notify the insured thereof and cooperate with and assist the insured in determining the extent of the insurer's additional liability.  What makes a better principle for the jury to use to assess the insurer's behavior? The language of these rules? Or:
The insurance company should help the policyholder with the claim
It's an easy choice, right?
One of the most important features of a successful trial is the desire to continue to seek ways to improve and expand our craft. Chip Merlin referred this book to me and as a trial lawyer for policyholders, I couldn't put it down. I will have it with me for the rest of my career and will refer back for many years to come. For more good readings, be sure to check out Attorney Chip Merlin's book, Pay up!
The true masters of trial, do not consider themselves champions at all. They are enthusiastic students for trial trials.
– Road Rules