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Birmingham Bar Association

Book Review Kira Fonteneau Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts FOURTH EDITION by Kira Fonteneau, The Five Points Law Group LLC In today’s digital society, books, and particularly legal books get tossed in heaps destined for a recycle center. However, even in a time where books are sacrificed to save space in the crowded office, sometimes, a book is truly the best way to get an overview for an area of the law. Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts is a book well worth the space it will occupy in your firm’s legal library. The book, published by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation and edited by Robert Haig of the New York law firm of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, is a collection of chapters written by over 296 authors from all over the country and legal practice areas. Contributors include several esteemed federal judges and Birmingham’s own N. Lee Cooper, of Maynard Cooper and Gale P.C., authored a chapter on the selection of experts, expert disclosure and the Pretrial Exclusion of Expert Testimony. The 14-volume work covers the waterfront on federal litigation. With 25 new chapters in the 4th edition, the treatise contains 153 chapters of substantive content for the federal practitioner. Those chapters cover information relevant both to the new practitioner with no frame of reference for the demands of federal litigation and experienced litigators who need to reference the finer points of a particular area of the law or a particular issue. For newer practitioners, the early chapters provide an accessible primer on the basic concepts that form the core concepts that any federal litigator must master. Beginning with chapters on jurisdiction, the volume explores the issue that should always be considered at the outset of every case, “why are we in federal court?” After explaining the general bases for federal jurisdiction, the book provides practitioners with checklists that can help ensure lawyers don’t miss the crucial issues. By doing so, the treatise can help new lawyers find a jumping off point for their first assignments without having to ask more experienced lawyers the most basic of questions. Another particularly useful chapter discusses case evaluation. This chapter provides counsel with a list of the key factors necessary to reach a good re- sult for the client. It advises lawyers to consider not just the client’s position but also the weaker points. This portion of the treatise is not so much an analysis of the case law of case evaluation, but a reminder to practitioners to avoid the myopic views that extend litigation and cost clients eventually. The chapter then moves on to provide practical advice on how to manage the client’s expectations about the possible outcomes to ensure that client not only gets the best result but also understands the reason the result achieved is the best result. New employment litigators will want to look closely at the chapter on summary judgment. Most employment litigators focus on summary judgment but may not know how to approach litigation from the start with summary judgment in mind. The chapter provides a helpful overview of summary judgment that will help new practitioners see the bigger picture at the outset, before discovery, and before the motion or response is due. Although the treatise takes a deep dive into the procedural elements of federal practice that new lawyers may find helpful, it does not neglect the finer points of those areas. Even experienced lawyers may find the book a helpful resource when novel issues arise. The work is not solely focused on procedural issues. Much of it is spent explaining the substantive areas of the law. It also provides practical tips to help the reader become a better practitioner. The chapter on cross-examination provides a good example of how the book seeks to show the reader how to use the information it provides in practice. Embedded within the chapter are several sample cross-examinations. In the examples, the author did not just provide a model examination. Instead, it provides an example of an examination that does not accomplish its goal and then explains what an attorney can do to improve the examination to make it more effective. While the set of books may be large, the knowledge within the volumes – culled from the minds of smart practitioners from all over the country – would be an invaluable asset to any law firm’s library. Kristin Waters Sullivan, Kira Fonteneau, and Felicia T. Long of Five Points Law Group 28 Birmingham Bar Association


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