After CBS News legend Mike Wallace passed away in April, the news was (justifiably) flooded with commentary highlighting Wallace’s qualities as a newsman. One obituary described him as “the ‘60 Minutes’ pit-bull reporter whose probing, brazen style made his name synonymous with the tough interview style he practically invented for television more than half a century ago. . . .” The Chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes, Jeff Fager, described Wallace as an “infectious, funny and ferocious person . . . .” As one writer explained, “Wallace didn’t just interview people. He interrogated them. He cross-examined them. Sometimes he eviscerated them. His weapons were many: thorough research, a cocked eyebrow, a skeptical ‘Come on’ and a question so direct sometimes it took your breath away.”
These qualities made for one of America’s most successful and respected interviewers and journalists. Wallace had a knack for drawing the truth out of public and private figures, exposing wrongdoing of both personal and national proportions. These qualities also make for a successful trial lawyer.
Sure, in recent years, television has provided us lawyers with so many role models, and taught us all kinds of helpful things about the practice of law. From Law and Order’s Jack McCoy, we know that winning lawyers essentially speak in one-liners. From The Practice’s Bobby Donnell, we know that the best trial attorneys have piercing blue eyes and a 5 o’clock shadow 24 hours a day. From The Good Wife’s Alicia Florrick, we know that third-year associate lawyers routinely run cases pretty much all by themselves. And from Boston Legal’s Denny Crane, we know that the most successful lawyers of all refer to themselves in the third person, and are pretty much just William Shatner.
But for years, I have drawn lawyerly inspiration from Wallace, whose interviewing style is a model for how evidence can be effectively collected in deposition and presented at trial. And, in an era of video-savvy jurors, lawyers have much to learn from Wallace’s techniques. Continue reading the full story . . . »