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Book reviews

14 July 14

Reviews of Key Skills for Professionals (Pannett, Sequeira, Dines and Day); Point Made (Guberman)

by Robert Marrs, David J Dickson (review editor)

Key Skills For Professionals

How to Succeed In Professional Services

Pannett, Sequeira, Dines and Day

PUBLISHER: KOGAN PAGE

ISBN: 9780749468729

PRICE: £24.95

Each chapter focuses on a different skill (presentation, negotiation, teams, writing, organisation and more). Practitioners may feel that this is teaching granny to suck eggs, but in reality this well-written and thought-provoking book is probably as useful for a solicitor of a number of years’ standing as it is for a law student wondering how to succeed in the profession. I’d advise anyone in either category to buy it and read it.

What I found particularly useful was that this is not just another training book heavy on theory but light on practice. The use of case studies, in particular, brings the book alive, allowing readers to consider the practical use of the theory that particular chapter entails. The case studies are stretching, and the highlight of the book. Solicitors who use the “five hour private study” provision could do a lot worse than having this book on their shelf. Take it down from time to time, work through a chapter (with the brainteasers about commercial awareness, profitability and so forth), and you’ll have had a high-quality refresher on important stuff pretty quickly. You can’t really ask for much more than that.

Robert Marrs, senior manager (education and training), Law Society of Scotland

Point Made

How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates

Ross Guberman

PUBLISHER: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

ISBN: 9780199943852

PRICE: £14.99

Gruberman seeks to "reveal the craft behind the art" of good written advocacy, which, of course, can easily translate to written pleadings or submissions that are then orally delivered. The author's approach is to consider the advocacy of many famed American advocates and influential lawyers, analysing their writings and drawing on them to sketch out for readers the approach he develops under various headings.

Gruberman breaks the book down into sections: the theme, the tale, the meat, the words and the close. The book concludes with 50 techniques to write a brief, bringing the chapters together in a clear, succinct structure. He does this by offering suggestions for better punctuation, use of verbs (or "zingers" as he calls the colourful verbs) and opening words, demonstrating how replacing words such as "however" or "moreover" with "but" or "nor" can enliven the language and delivery, all with the aim of engaging and retaining the recipient.

The author consistently demonstrates how better structure or use of language can significantly alter delivery. There are two fine examples. The first is to use "block quotations" as an “insurance policy" to "back up your point, not to make it for you": he then demonstrates how an opener setting out your submission is clearer by putting the emphasis on the pointwith the case quotation as backup. The other is a restructuring of submissions in a motion in Jones v Clinton, where by adopting a question and answer approach, anticipating the lines and issues the court would likely raise, but using the answer as the written submission, demonstrates a clear course down which the court is led to your conclusion. Fascinating and certainly not dry or esoteric, this book has much food for thought.

David J Dickson, solicitor advocate

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