Trying Cases: Promise, Prove, Persuade is a book for lawyers who want to understand the dynamic relationship between a lawyer and all the other people involved in a trial. Trial lawyers must do many things during a trial, and they must do them very well. Trial practice is more complex than other types of legal service because it happens like a live broadcast, in the moment. Clients exercise their right to trial when other methods of dispute resolution have failed. Lawyers prepare for trial when no other option will work. Preparation is essential, but there is never a true blueprint for a trial. Each trial is unique. Once the jurors are seated and the story begins to unfold, there is no time to proofread or do over. Trial lawyers must hear and see the case as the jurors see it. They must listen carefully. They must make decisions quickly. They must know how to present and challenge witnesses with skill. They must know how to edit a case based on admissibility and protect the record for a potential appeal. They must know how to capture the compelling aspects of the evidence in their opening statements and closing arguments. Most importantly, trial lawyers must know how to promise in a credible, realistic sense, how to prove skillfully, and how to persuade jurors that the client should prevail.
Professor Jennifer Zedalis is the Director of Trial Practice and a senior legal skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Before joining the faculty full-time, she practiced law for almost 20 years. She has extensive trial experience. She has handled a wide variety of cases, including capital murder cases, mental health cases, and juvenile cases. Professor Zedalis teaches trial and pretrial litigation courses and advises Florida’s nationally competitive trial team. She has lectured and taught short courses in trial advocacy and American trial procedures in Poland, Costa Rica, and the United Kingdom. She is the Co-chair of the Florida Bar Gerald T. Bennett Public Defender/Prosecutor Trial Training Program. She is an active member of the criminal law and trial law sections of the Florida Bar. She has served on the executive council of the criminal law section for several terms. She has a bachelor’s degree from Duke and a juris doctorate from the University of Florida.