A renowned trial lawyer and advocacy teacher brought his self-described “contrarian” cross examination techniques to the Law Center in an entertaining, and occasionally earthy, presentation that filled a lecture hall with students and practicing lawyers. Terence F. MacCarthy, widely recognized as the nation’s leading speaker on the subject, delivered on his threefold promise that attendees would “have a little bit of fun, a lot of laughs and learn a lot.”
Sitting on a stool befitting a raconteur, MacCarthy said the ABA Journal once termed his “Look Good” cross examination method “contrarian,” a big word that he looked up and found meant “different.” He agreed – it IS different. But it works, he said, and it has been honed during his 42 years as executive director of the Chicago office of the Federal Defender Program in the Northern District of Illinois. “Cross examination is not an art,” he said. “It’s a science.” And, during the next four hours of a CLE presentation hosted by the Blakely Advocacy Institute, he detailed the practical tips and truisms of his discipline.
MacCarthy, now defender emeritus, said cross examination is the most difficult part of a trial for three reasons:
MacCarthy dismissed any tendency toward “legalese,” advising the audience that it’s best to speak in a courtroom like you would in a bar. He immediately corrected himself. “I mean, a nice bar, with carpeting on the floor,” he said, as laughter rolled through the room.
MacCarthy’s presentation was hosted by the Blakely Advocacy Institute’s Trial Lawyers Craft Speaker Series.