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UK Attorney Discusses Roger Dodd Book, Mentorship on Trial Practice in Counsel Magazine

Robert F. Spohrer

Spohrer Dodd Partner Roger J. Dodd has cultivated a reputation as one of the nation’s most elite lawyers. In addition to the successful results he’s secured on behalf of clients in matters of personal injury and criminal defense, Dodd is also known for his work as a lecturer, expert witness, instructor, and author. Those scholarly contributions have enabled numerous attorneys across the world to improve upon their skills – including legal practitioners across the pond.

That impact is evident in a recent featured article that will appear in the February 2019 issue of Counsel Magazine, the monthly journal of the Bar of England and Wales. The article – What the Bar Can Learn From U.S. Trial Lawyers – chronicles the early legal career of its author, Edward Henry, Queen’s Counsel, and his experiences living in the U.S. in the early 1990s. It also discusses the role Dodd has played in shaping his career, and why his invaluable contributions are worth emulating abroad.

A Lesson in the Law: How Trial Advocacy Can be Taught

Apart from describing days studiously observing the American judicial system at work, Henry itemizes some marked differences between the practice of law in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as differences in how trial advocacy is taught to students and practitioners. As he notes, the American approach to teaching advocacy, imparting the requisite skills they need, and fostering the ability to improve upon them is more insightful, comprehensive, and holistic than what’s being done in the U.K.

In support of his stance, Henry notes America’s abundance of high-quality literary works about the effective performance of trial advocacy. His first example?
Cross-Examination: Science and Techniques, a bestseller book co-authored by Roger Dodd and Larry Pozner. Now in its third edition, the book not only teaches how to effectively cross examine, but also “rigorously distils case preparation” to encourage attorneys to think about the entire process of trial. As Henry states:

I have used Pozner and Dodd since 1993, when [the book] was first published, and it has been invaluable in my practice. The techniques for controlling the witness and impeachment have again and again been of vital importance.

The article also touches on differences regarding juries and the ability of American trial lawyers to understand the psychology of jury decision making, and adapt their advocacy as needed. For this particular set of skills, Henry explains how he was recently mentored by Dodd:

I was privileged to be mentored by Roger Dodd on the thematic analysis of a case last year in which the strategy was to evoke in the jury the same feelings of trauma and disorientation felt by the witness, as if by proxy, so they could imagine, or empathize at a visceral level the predicament the witness had been placed in. An excess of emotion and lack of objectivity are hindrances for [attorneys], but for juries the opposite is true – U.S. research has revealed that most jurors are affective in their reasoning process. Pathos is the hook: it now comes first before logic in cases arousing strong feelings. Logic is not abandoned, but emotion underpins the functional logic that juries so often apply.

The article ends with a quote from Dodd’s book, which reiterate just how complex being a trial lawyer is, and how important a role they play in society. Standing up on behalf of others will naturally require strength, but “trying to win through force of personality and rhetorical fireworks are out-of-date techniques.”

About Roger Dodd

Attorney Roger Dodd, Senior Partner at Spohrer Dodd, is a dual Board-Certified Civil Trial and Criminal Trial Specialist who has advocated on behalf of clients for more than 40 years. A renowned trial attorney with numerous professional awards and accolades, Dodd is also a frequent media guest and commentator on the law, and has lectured and taught in all 50 states and various countries across the world. His most recent book – Cross-Examination for Depositions – co-authored with his son, Matter Dodd, was recently published in 2017.

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