Young Litigator Series - Tom HeintzmanDate: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Arbitration Place

10 Rules for Effective Cross-Examination (especially before arbitral tribunals)

“To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues” (Sun Tzu from the Art of War)

Thomas Heintzman was the first of our resident arbitrators featured on our new Young Litigator’s series held on March 22, 2012. The event had a great turnout of young practitioners eager to soak up as much savoir-faire from the distinguished Heintzman.

And Savoir-faire he gave. The first of which was “Not to shoot from the hip”. Be prepared and decide exactly what you want to accomplish. Tom led the audience through his own personal stories of effective cross-examination; from how to “cut your losses and run” to how to listen to your witness as often the answers will give you a pearl. My personal favourite was his advice to write out the “crunch” question, the one which will accomplish your mission and govern the pace and structure of your cross-examination. “Keeping your cross-examination crisp is more persuasive and memorable” is another valuable lesson learned. Sounds like a no-brainer but too often, experienced (and less experienced) litigators conduct long and drawn out cross-examination which fails to accomplish what was set-out in the first place. I would also add to this rule: lose the rhetoric.

Tom’s last set of advices focused on the Rules of Professional Conduct and a barrister’s duty to the court versus a barrister’s duty to his/her client in the context of a cross-examination. His insights on what could constitute a violation of the Rules for knowingly permitting a witness or party to be presented in a false or misleading way while cross-examining the witness was stimulating. How far can you take the cross-examination without endangering your duties to the court?  The exuberant Heintzman left his audience with a thirst for more which coincided with his 10th Rule du jour: Try to end on an up-beat!

Tom Heintzman’s presentation is available through this link: