Alameda County
Bar Association

Book Review of “The Articulate Attorney: Public Speaking for Lawyers” 2nd edition 

Brian K. Johnson & Marsha Hunter, The Articulate Attorney: Public Speaking for Lawyers  2nd edition, (2d ed., Crown King Books, 2013), 186 pages.  ISBN:  978-0-9796895-9-8, $24.99, paper, $15.99 for PDF or ePUB.

Book review by Mark E. Estes, Law Library Director, Bernard E Witkin Alameda County Law Library.

As used in this book, “public speaking” involves far more than the formal presentation at a program or in trial, it also includes the conversation with partners or a pitch to a potential client. So, unless you communicate solely by text, you owe it to yourself and to your listeners to at least read this book; more than likely though you will want the book in your personal collection.

Authors Johnson & Hunter grab the reader’s attention with their first sentence in the introduction, “People expect attorneys to be good public speakers.” They hold the reader’s attention with a lively writing style discussing the role the body, the brain and the voice play in public speaking and conclude with a chapter on practicing with helpful checklists. In the chapter on the role of the body, carefully placed sketches illustrate effective gesturing with clear captions in a way that allows the reader to see and almost feel the gesture.

The authors drew from their experience as communication consultants for NITA as well as scientific researchers to thoughtfully explain the causes of the distractions to effective public speaking and suggestions to reduce or eliminate those distractions.

The chapter on practicing includes many helpful tips, including videotaping oneself. The two appendices provide an extensive checklist for preparing to speak and to evaluate one’s own videotape.

It includes a thoughtfully constructed index, not just computer-generated keywords extracted from the text.

At $24.99 for hard copy, a fair price for the content, this book takes the reader through organizing one’s thoughts, learning what to do with one’s hands, stance, breathing and eliminating “thinking noises”, such as “uh, um or ah.”  It will most certainly improve one’s public speaking style. Highly recommended.

This book is available at the Alameda County Law Library and through several booksellers. See for a complete listing of sources.

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