The Memorandum - Book Review & Interview with Author Robert W. Kelley

Visceral and gory, like the truth. Robert W. Kelley's new book The Memorandum, combines drama, intrigue, and even the elements of a mystery to tell the legal saga of a family who bravely stood against a large corporationand won. 

About the Story
It starts with a boom, a hellish scene where a young life ends and the search for the truth begins. In this book, Bob Kelley is the main character, and the reader learns about him through his first-person, autobiographical recounting of what it was like to face a modern day Goliath in the courtroom.  General Motors is the defendant in the case, and their attorneys play into the role well (like the Cooperman McBride lawyers in Amazon Prime's Goliath), throwing shade at every question and tactic Kelley and his team prepares. Kelley reveals the harrowing story of Mike & Catherine Murphy, the clients whose heartbreaking story will tug at any reader's emotions. The plot weaves through difficult depositions, wily witnesses, and surprise subpoenas in the firm's relentless pursuit for the truth. 
"It's not a game. And it's not a trick. It's what a good lawyer does to help the jury see the victims as living, breathing human beings that they can relate to and connect with." 
Sometimes it reads like a novel, other times, it sounds like window dressing for what was supposed to be a memoir, but throughout it is a realistic view of what can truly happen in a long, arduous legal battle with formidable and well paid opponents. The story crescendos as any good trial does, with  closing arguments, and there are no spoilers because if you read the front matter, or the back cover, or the tag line, you already know who the winners and losers are. It's definitely a book about a journey, not the destination.

Why The Memorandum is Good for Law Students
The value of thorough and patient research, the dive into boxes and boxes of discovery, the stealth strategy on whether to object during voir dire, the art of the killer cross examination—all the legal drama wrapped in a battle between a villain and a hero. And the heroes know how to dig. They know the importance of being organized (they color-code their files), dramatic (hello, life-sized exhibits) and prepared. Notwithstanding the reviews from professors, for law students considering whether they have the interest in trial work, this book will give them a chance to understand the volume of what it takes in cases like these. Kelley only realized that being a trial attorney for these victims was his passion when he was in his third year. As a 3L, he took a trial advocacy class and that set him on his path. He admonishes students to take as many and learn as much as you can, but most importantly to enjoy it and pursue your passion throughout. 

About the Author
Bob Kelley has been an attorney for almost forty years and is known as a fierce trial advocate for victims of catastrophic injuries and plaintiffs in wrongful death suits. He has been Board Certified in Civil Trial and is founding partner at Kelley Uustal in Fort Lauderdale, FL. While in law school, he was Editor-in-Chief of this publication and co-authored a comment about admiralty law and treasure hunting. His research for that project started with a small plane excursion to Key West, a day-long conversation with treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, taking off from an airstrip with no one in the control tower, and lightning storm on the way back to Fort Lauderdale. His youngest daughter is in law school and he's not-so-secretly hoping she will also become Editor-in-Chief of her school's legal journal as well. Kelley said that serving as an editor of the Nova Law Review was a great experience that helped as a lawyer because it taught him how to write well, an invaluable skill in trial practice.

Here are Kelley's answers to some of our questions about being a trial lawyer:

What surprised you the most about actual practice once you left law school?
The biggest surprise to me is probably that a lot of times the rulings made by judges in trials can vary greatly from courtroom to courtroom...but that's the job of a trial lawyer that no matter how the judge rules, you represent your client, and take it up with the appellate court.

Do you always push for trials?
Yes, because we don't take cases that will not be going to trial. A good settlement can only be obtained if a trial lawyer is ready for trial and usually not until the trial is underway.

What part of the trial is the most crucial?
The most important part of every trial is jury selection. If you cant get a fair jury, you cant get a fair trial.

Learn more about Robert W. Kelley and The Memorandum

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