The Practice and Process of the Law : Checklists for Every Occasion, Frank Ramos, American Bar Association (2019)

Law Library Stacks: KF300 .R36 2019

Just as law students learn to outline their courses in order to get organized and prepare for exams, Attorney Frank Ramos champions the checklist as a surefire method to manage your law practice.

It's all about process he says, and logically the next step is to reduce the process to checklists.  List all the tasks you do, break them down to their basic elements, and reduce those into a series of to-dos, putting them in order as to increase efficiency and quality.  Checklists work because they reflect best practices.  Checklists are organic and evolve over time based on your needs.  By being thorough and accounting for all the steps during preparation, checklists will help you from forgetting steps in the process and be more consistent when preparing for a deposition or trial for example.

Mr. Ramos begins by addressing all the tasks trial lawyers like him perform.  The overall organization of the book flows from there.

Part II recites "Checklists for Trial Lawyers" starting with "How to Approach Litigation" by sitting down with your client and defining a "win."  From there, given the circumstances and the law in the case, develop a plan to deliver that "win."  This is where all those checklists will help.

"The Client" involves conducting the client interview, defining the attorney's role, securing client documents, assessing the strength of the case, partnering with the client, defining a "win," and developing the Case Action Plan.

"Case Investigation" reviews the case in terms of assessment, documents, witnesses, causes of action, defenses, and preparing a Case Analysis, and Case Report for the client.

The "Compliant" goes over checklists for drafting the complaint, responding, motion to dismiss, other responsive motions, and drafting an answer and affirmative defenses.

"Written Discovery" requires a lot of drafting interrogatories, requests for production and admissions, notices of inspections of premises, and requests for medical examinations, as well as, responses to interrogatories and requests for production.

"Depositions" goes over the whole process of preparing depositions, and deposing all the possible actors from the plaintiff and defendant, to corporate representatives, lay and expert witnesses, the treating physician and mental health professionals, to the investigating officer, engineer, accountant, and so forth.  It does not end here, it must be determined whether to videotape the deposition, preparing your client for their deposition, defending your clients deposition, and knowing when to object.  This is easily the longest chapter in the book, but depositions are crucial to getting to the facts of the case.

Next is "Motion Practice."  Checklists cover the usual motion to compel, protective orders, sanctions, summary judgment, and drafting supporting affidavits.  As always, there is preparing for hearings and arguing motions.

There is also a section for "Alternate Dispute Resolution" which may end in a settlement agreement.

The "Trial" segment starts with preparing, preparing themes, theories, and preparation of the evaluation letter to your client.  What to do 90 days, 60 days, 30 days, 15 days, one week out from the trial follow.  Then more preparing, preparing the client, witnesses, exhibits, and jury selection.  Finally, there is the opening statement and closing agument to be dealt with, as well as, preparing for both direct and cross-examinations.

Parts III, IV, V and VI cover a wide range of other roles attorneys will encounter in their practice such as Checklists for Law Firm Leaders, Work-Life Balance, Developing Soft Skills, and finally Developing Your Own Checklists.

Last but not least, Frank Ramos has kindly made all the checklists in his book availabe in PDF format, however, so as not to violate copyright, you will simply have to check out The Practice and Process of the Law : Checklists for Every Occasion for yourself.

Submitted by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian on December 11, 2019

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