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Guide to Pretrial & Trial Practice Materials

Last Updated 4/2012. Direct feedback on this page to lawlib@umn.edu.

Table of Contents


General Materials on Litigation


Library catalog (MNCAT Discovery Catalog)

Suggested subject searches include:

  • Jury instructions -- United States -- forms


  • Trial practice --United States


  • Trial practice -- Minnesota


  • Examination of witnesses -- United States


  • Discovery (Law) United States
  • Depositions -- United States


  • Pre-trial procedure -- United States


  • Civil procedure -- United States -- Trial practice


  • Trial practice -- United States


  • Actions and defenses -- United States.
For example: subject = trial practice Minnesota


You can search for CLE (Continuing Legal Education) materials by using a keyword search, and adding the phrase legal education to your search terms. For example: keyword = malpractice legal education.

The five publications below provide an introduction to the litigation process, aimed at the new practitioner. The first three are Minnesota publications; the next is a West nutshell, and the last one is an American Bar Association guide.

  • The Basics of Civil Litigation [MCLE] (Reserve KF209 .M54x 2008 no. 53. Covers drafting pleadings, conducting discovery, handling evidence, surviving your first trial, and negotiating settlements.


  • The Toolbox: The Mechanics of Trying the Case [Minnesota Association for Justice] (Reserve KFM 5597 .P3 T66x 2008) An outline of trial procedure from the decision to sue to witnessess and exhibits to post-trial motions.


  • Trial Practice and Procedure in Minnesota State Court:  How to Litigate the Civil Case [MCLE] (Reserve KF 209 .M54x 2007 no. 101) Covers complaints, discovery, dismissals, the acutal trial, and post-trial procedures.


  • The First Trial: Where Do I Sit?  What Do I say? In a Nutshell, 2nd ed. [Goldberg& McCormack] (Reserve KF 8915 .G63 2009).


  • The Litigation Manual 3rd ed. [Koeltl & Kiernan] (Reserve KF 8915 .A2 L57 1999) In three volumes: Pretrial, Trial and Special Problems and Appeals.


  • American Jurispurdence Trials  (AmJur Trials) KF8915 .A74 and on Westlaw (amjur-trials). A multi-volume set containing model trial articles written by practitioners that cover the spectrum of personal injury, business, and criminal litigation. Practical step-by-step guidance through all the phases of a trial, from initial client interview, discovery, pleadings, motions and trial itself, to post trial motions and appeals. Includes checklists, model pleading, discovery and motion forms, sample litigation aids (charts, photos, diagrams, tables, etc.), sample opening statements and final arguments.

For more experienced practitioners, publications such as the following can be helpful:

  • The Litigator's Annual Short Course [MCLE] (Reserve KF209 .M54x 2009 no. 2).  Designed as an update to highlight rules changes, significant cases, technological developments such as electronic discovery, etc.

Pretrial Practice


  • Civil Pretrial Practice Institute [MILE] (KF209 .M55 2001 no.55) This CLE covers pretrial practice in depth, including written discovery and depositions, experts, motion practice, and more.

  • Pretrial [8th ed. Mauet] (Reserve KF8900.M386 2012)  This Aspen coursebook outlines litigation planning and includes pleadings, discovery, motions, and settlements.


  • Pretrial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis and Strategy, 3rd ed. [Berger, Mitchell, Clark] (Reserve KF8900.B47x 2010).  Describes how to think and act as a successful advocate in today's stategic and technological practice of pretrial litigation.

  • Pretrial Litigation in a Nutshell [4th ed., Dessem] (Reserve KF8900 .D49 2008). This Nutshell focuses on federal rules of civil procedure covering the pretrial process, and the skills needed during those proceedings.


  • Am Jur Proof of Facts, 3rd series. (KF 8933 .A42 1988). Proof of Facts helps lawyers organize and prepare materials for trial, and examine witnesses. It covers obtaining information from clients, taking depositions, preparing briefs, and other steps in trial preparation. Each article has checklists and planning guides to help establish key facts.


  • Lawyers' Guide to Medical Proof [Houts] (KF 8964 .H69).


  • The Practising Law Institute often publishes handbooks on Federal Pretrial Practice: e.g., Federal Pretrial Practice, Basic Procedure & Strategy  [PLI] c2001. Handbooks in this series are shelved at KF 8915 .A1 L57x.


  • Cause of Action Manual 3rd ed. [Bartsch] (RESERVE KFM 5933 .C38x 1999) This source sets out the elements of various causes of action under Minnesota law.


  • Shepard's Causes of Action 1st and 2d eds. (KF 8863 .S53 1993-; KF 8863 .S53 1983). Multi-volume sets.  For selected causes of action, each article includes an overview of substantive law, checklists, and a sample complaint.


  • Pirsig on Minnesota Pleading, 6th ed. (RESERVE KFM 5935 .P751x). This title provides valuable guidelines for drafting pleadings in Minnesota.


  • American Jurisprudence Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated (REF KF 8836 .A45) A comprehensive collection of forms and pleadings covering both judicial and administrative proceedings.


  • Nichols Cyclopedia of Federal Procedure Forms (KF 8840 .C93 Forms 1951) Each chapter includes sample forms, along with practice tips.


  • Federal Local Court Forms (KF 8836 .H58) Current reproducible forms generated by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, and by the various United States District Courts (including Minnesota) and Courts of Appeals (including the 8th Circuit).


  • Federal Procedural Forms, Lawyers Ed. (REF KF 8836 .F4) Forms for federal civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings. The set references Federal Procedure Lawyer's Edition, and is arranged by subject rather than by rule number. Updated annually by pocket parts.


  • Bender's Federal Practice Forms (REF KF 8836 .F78) This looseleaf publication has forms for both civil and criminal practice.


  • West's Federal Forms (REF KF 8836 .W4).  This multi volume set contains forms and annotations for federal civil, criminal and administrative proceedings.


  • Civil Practice Forms [Minnesota Practice] (RESERVE, LAW REF. OFFICE KFM 5480 .M53 vols. 15-16.) Organized by civil procedure rule number, these two volumes are a treasure trove of useful, adaptable forms for the Minnesota litigator.


  • Antitrust Discovery Handbook, 2nd ed. [ABA] (KF8900.A75 2003).  Includes the scope of discovery and practical approaches to gaining discovery in antitrust cases.


  • Deposition Guidebook. [Klein] (KF8900.K58 2007).  A compact guide to conducting effective depositions.


  • Depositions:  Procedure, Strategy and Technique, 3rd ed.   [Lisnek & Kaufman]  (KF8900 .L571x).  Describes a plan for through preparation, execution, and evaluation of depositions.
  • Depositions in a Nutshell.  [Moore et al.]  (KF8900.D48x 2011).  A concise explanation of the basics of depositions. 


  • Discovery Practice, 4th ed. [Herr & Haydock] (KF8900 .H392x). Practice tips and an appendix of forms.


  • The Effective Deposition: Techniques and Strategies that Work. [Malone] (Reserve KF8900.M34 2007).  Argues that the best result for a case is achieved through effective depositions.


  • Effective Depositions. [MCLE] (KF209.M54x 2007 no. 44) Discusses preparations for and techniques of depositions.


  • Electronic Discovery: Law and Practice. [Cohen & Lender] (KF8902.E42 C64).  Covers initiating and responding to electronic discovery requests and electronic data retention policies.


  • Electronic Discovery Deskbook. [Mayer Brown LLP] (KF8902.E42 E44x).  Discusses the process of electronic discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.


  • Employment Discrimination Depositions: Law, Strategy and Sample Depositions. [Oncidi] (KF8925.D5 O53x).

  • Litigation Readiness: A Practical Approach to Electronic Discovery. [Dubey, Panaella]  (KF8902.E42 D83 2011).

  • Managing E-Discovery and ESI: From Pre-litigation through Trial [Berman, Barton, Grimm]  (KF8902.E42 M36 2011).


  • Pattern Discovery: Employment and Labor Law [Danner] (KF8900.D319).


  • Pattern Discovery: Tort Actions 3d ed. [Danner] (KF8900.D333x).

  • Successful First Depositions, 3d ed.  [Clary, Paulsen, Vanselow] (Reserve KF8900.C53x 2011). Convenient reference for law students and new attorneys preparing to take and defend their first depostions.

  • You Will Be a Credible Witness at Your Deposition! The 3 Steps and 10 c's for Clients and Lay Witnesses Testifying at Depositions [videorecording] [American Bar Association] (KF9672.Y681x 2008).

Motion Practice

  • Motion Practice [MILE] (KF 209 .M55 2002 No.31) This CLE provides an in-depth look at selected topics in state and federal motion practice.


  • Motion Practice, 4th ed. 2001- [Herr, et al.] (KF 8875 .H472x) This source includes substantive law, practice tips, sample forms and illustrative trial examples.


  • Motion Practice and Persuasion. [ABA] (KF8875.J67 2006).  Describes the fundamental principles of motion practice and suggests ways to write persuasive motions that meet specific needs. 

Note: Many of the works listed under the heading Pleadings, above, also contain sample discovery and motions.

Trial Practice


  • 73 Ways to Win  [videorecording][American Bar Association Section of Litigation ] c2001.  KF8915 .S48x 2001 Description:  "Seventy-three of the country's top legal advocates collaborate to present litigation tips and practical advice on improving trial practice, as they illustrate the evolution of a case from the beginning through to its appeal."

  • Acting Skills for Lawyers [Mathis] (KF8915.M374 2011)  This ABA title  describes a trial in terms of an acting performance: audience, improvisation, and storytelling.


  • American Jurisprudence Trials (KF 8915 .A74) This set is set is written by experienced trial lawyers. The first six volumes cover general problems in trial practice. The remaining Model Trials volumes address trials on particular topics. Includes sample pleadings.


  • Civil Trial Practice Institute [MILE] (KF 209 .M55 2002 No. 51) This CLE covers many key aspects of trial practice, including jury selection, demonstrative and documentary evidence, experts, cross-examination, opening and closing arguments, making objections, etc.


  • Closing Arguments: the Art and the Law [Stein] (KF8924.S72x).  This annual pamphlet discusses both the law of closing arguments and the art of presenting one effectively.  It also includes sample arguments in both civil and criminal cases.

  • Effective Courtroom Advocacy [Anderson] (KF8915.A7553 2010).  This NITA title includes trial and jury tactics, advice about evidence, and examples of effective advocacy.


  • Goldstein Trial Technique, 3rd ed. [Lane] (Reserve KF8915.G64 1984).  This loose-leaf covers each stage of trial practice, from preparation to appeals; there are numerous citations to both primary and secondary sources.


  • How to Succeed in the Courtroom: The Secrets of Persuasive Storytelling (MCLE). (RESERVE KF209.M54x 2006 no. 42).  Focuses on persuasive speaking.


  • How to Try a Jury Case: Trial Tactics. [Kimberling] (KF8915.K56 2007).  This brief book from the National Institute for Trial Advocacy presents the basics of trial preparation, witness examination, and opening and closing arguments.

  • How to Try a Murder Case: Pretrial and Trial Guidelines for Prosecution and Defense.  [Wims, Rubin, Ambrose] (KF9306.W56 2011).  Designed to cover topics essential to the successful litigation of homicide cases.


  • Irving Younger Collection: Wisdom and Wit from the Master of Trial Advocacy. [Easton] (KF213.Y68 E17 2010). Highlights Younger on several trial topics, including discovery, jury selection, witnesses, and evidence. 

  • Litigation is War: Strategy & Tactics for the Litigation Battlefield. [Whitmer] (RESERVE KF8915.W495 2007).  Focuses on the need for a comprehensive and organized strategy in trial practice.


  • McElhaney's Trial Notebook, 4th ed. [McElhaney] (RESERVE KF8915.Z9 M25 2005).  From the author's columns in the ABA journal Litigation, this title includes material on tactics, persuasion, and witnesses.


  • Minnesota Judges Criminal Benchbook, 6th ed. [MCLE] (RESERVE KF209.M54x 2008 no. 61).  Discusses the full course of Minnesota criminal procedure from charging and arrest to sentencing and postconviction; includes discovery, trial procedures, and evidence in criminal trials.


  • Minnesota State District Court Civil Practice Deskbook, 1st ed. [MCLE] (RESERVE KF209.M54x 2009 no. 18).  In addition to covering pleading and discovery, this deskbook discusses trial elements, post-trial procedures, and collection of judgments; it includes forms.


  • Modern Trial Advocacy, 3rd ed.  [Lubet] (Reserve KF8915.L82 2010).  Covers the trial from the basics of story telling to direct and cross examination to objections, foundations, and exhibits and from opening statement to final argument. 

  • Opening Statements: Winning in the Beginning by Winning the Beginning,  [Gianna] (KF8923.O64x).  Argues the importance of the opening statement to winning the trial and provides illustrative "great opening statements."


  • Trial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis, and Strategy, 2nd ed. [Berger] (RESERVE KF8915.B45 2008).  Emphasizes the increased importance of technology and expert witnesses in successful trial practice; includes assignments and case files and a CD-ROM.


  • Trial Handbook for Minnesota Lawyers.  [Meshbesher] 2001- .  Part of the Minnesota Practice Series.  (RESERVE & REFERENCE OFFICE KFM5480.M53 v.23).


  • Trial Handbook 3rd ed. [Sinclair].  2002-  (KF8915.S56x).  This loose-leaf from Practising Law Institute, the national continuing legal education provider, tries to cover all facets of the trial process; it includes step-by-step guidance on creating a good record at trial and has many forms, checklists, etc.


  • Trial Advocacy in a Nutshell 3rd ed. [Bergman] (RESERVE KF 8915 .Z9 B47 1997) Within the typical West Nutshell format, this book presents alternative approaches to common trial situations, using various factual settings and legal issues.


  • Trial and Clinical Skills in a Nutshell 4th ed. [Hegland]. (Reserve KF8915.Z9 H46 2005). More general than Trial Advocacy in a Nutshell, this book covers a variety of skills including some related to trial practice.


  • Trial Preparation for Prosecutors [Marcus].  (KF9645.M37 2010).  Outlines the preparation process prosecutors should follow. 

  • Trial Techniques 8th ed. [Mauet] (RESERVE KF 8915 .M38 2010) This source includes coverage of jury selection, opening statements, direct examination, exhibits, cross-examination, experts, closing arguments, objections, trial preparation and strategy.


  • Trials: Strategy, Skills, and the New Powers of Persuasion, 2nd ed. [Mauet] (RESERVE KF8915.M384 2009).  This book focuses on the changes in trial techniques as jurors have changed in age, attitude, and media awareness.  An accompanying DVD-ROM contains forms and exhibits.


  • Trying Cases to Win [Stern] (RESERVE KF 8915 .S736 1991) Discusses techniques and strategies for use during trial.

  • Winning the Jury's Attention: Presenting Evidence from Voir Dire to Closing, 1st ed.  [Cox] (KF8972.C69 2011).  Discusses the principles for being most effective in presenting a case to a jury.  

Evidence and Examination of Witnesses

  • Courtroom Criminal Evidence 4th ed. [Imwinkelried] (KF 9660.C68x 2005) This source provides detailed, thorough analysis of evidentiary issues in general and those specific to criminal practice, such as fourth amendment issues, confessions, probable cause, etc.


  • Courtroom Evidence Handbook 2008-2009 Student edition. [Goode et al.]   (RESERVE KF8936.Z9.C655).  This book is designed to make sense of evidence law, providing both an explanation of the federal rules of evidence and an introduction to how they are used in trial.


  • Cross-Examining Doctors: A Practical Guide, 2nd ed. [Radnor] (KF8964.R33x 2010).  A specialized guide to the challenges of cross-examining a doctor, not an easy witness.

  • Arkfield on Electronic Discovery and Evidence, 3rd ed.  [Arkfield]  (KF8947.A9722).  The author discusses the new skills attorneys now need to discover and admit increasingly inportant electonic evidence.

  • Electronic Discovery: Law and Practice, 2nd ed. [Cohen, Lender] (KF8902.E52 C641x). An authoritative explanation of the issues unique to the discovery of electronic documents.

  • Evidence, 3rd ed. [Thompson] (RESERVE & REFERENCE OFFICE KFM5480.M53 v.11).  Part of the Minnesota Practice Series, this title comments on the Minnesota rules of evidence and provides numerous case reference.


  • Evidentiary Foundations 7th ed. [Imwinkelried] (KF 8935.I45 2008) This source contains samples of questions that can be used to lay a foundation for the admission of various kinds of evidence.


  • Expert Witnesses in Civil Trials:  Effective Preparation and Presentation, 2007/2008 ed.  [Lancaster, Cappozzola]  c2008-. (KF8961.L36x). Part of West's Trial Practice Series, this title is updated in annual editions.

  • The Future of Evidence: How Science and Technology Will Change the Practice of Law [Epstein, Henderson, editors] (KF8935.F882011). A variety of essays on diverse topics published by the ABA Science and Technology Section on the future of scientific evidence.

  • Litigators on Experts: Strategies for Managing Expert Witnesses from Retention through Trial.  [Couture, Haynes, editors] (KF8961.L58 2010)  A practical guide to maximizing results from expert witnesses.

  • Model Witness Examinations, 3rd ed. [Sandler](KF8900.S26 2010).  This concise handbook provides more than 60 model examinations as practical examples of common trial evidentiary issues.  

  • Objections at Trial 5th ed. [Bright et al.] (KF8935.B75 2008). Discusses the many possible objections to evidence presented during a trial.


  • Preparing Witnesses, 3rd ed. [Rosner] (KF8915.R67x).  This loose-leaf in West's Trial Practice Series emphasizes the importance of adequate preparation to the effective testimony of witnesses at trial.


  • Trial Evidence, 3rd ed. [Mauet, Wolfson] (RESERVE KF8935.M28 2005).  This book approaches evidence in the context of how it is presented and used in a trial.


  • You Will Be a Credible Witness at Trial! The 3 Steps and 10 C's for Clients and Lay Witnesses at Trial [videorecording] [American Bar Association]  (KF9672.Y68x 2008).


Jury Selection and Jury Instructions

  • Effective Jury Selection Techniques [videorecording] (KF8915.Z9.V57 1994 v.10)


  •  Federal Jury Practice and Instructions 6th ed. [O'Malley et al.; also referred to as Devitt & Blackmar] (RESERVE KF8984.D48 2006) This set includes general instructions for federal civil and criminal cases, pattern jury instructions prepared by committees from various federal circuits, case annotations, and related materials.


  • Jury Instructions Drafting Manual and Resource Guide [Fox] (KF8984.F69x). This one volume, looseleaf publication (updated as needed), includes online and print sources of federal, state and topical jury instructions. Guidelines and practice tips for drafting jury instructions are also included.


  • Jury Instructions in Commercial Litigation 2nd ed. [Eades] (KF8925.C55 E232x 2002). Includes a broad range of topics from contracts to intellectual property to torts.


  • Jury Instructions on Medical Issues, 6th ed. [Eades] (KF8984.E22x). Includes cases involving hospitals, physicians, and particular diseases and injuries.


  • Manual of Model Civil Jury Instructions for the District Courts of the Eighth Circuit (RESERVE KF 8984.A65 M36 2009).  2008 is the latest edition.


  • Mastering Voir Dire and Jury Selection: Gain an Edge in Questioning and Selecting Your Jury, 3rd ed.[Frederick] (KF8979.F73 2011).  Describes how jury selection works, how to prepare, how to elicit information from jurors about their backgrounds and opinions, and how to interpret nonverbal cues.


  • Minnesota Jury Instruction Companion Handbook:Civil (CIVJIG).  (RESERVE & REFERENCE OFFICE KFM5480.M53 v. 4B).  This supplement to the Minnesota civil jury instructions contains acutal instructions given in cases tried in Minnesota trial courts.


  • Minnesota Jury Instruction Guides: Civil (CIVJIG), 5th ed. (RESERVE & REFERENCE OFFICE KFM5480.M53 V.4, 4A)


  • Minnesota Jury Instruction Guides, Criminal (CRIMJIG) 4th ed. (RESERVE & REFERENCE OFFICE KFM 5480.M53, v. 10, 10A.)


  • Model Jury Instructions in Civil Antitrust Cases, 2005 ed. (KF9066.A65.M63 2005).  This book contains sample jury instructions from the ABA Section of Antitrust Law.


  • Model Jury Instructions: Employment Litigation, 2nd ed. (KF8984.E39 2005).  One of a series of Model Jury Instructions from the ABA Section of Litigation; the others are on business torts, securities, construction and patents.


Note regarding state jury instructions:
In addition to Minnesota, the Law Library owns current jury instructions for the following states:  California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Wisconsin and South Dakota.  Search MNCAT Discovery Catalog by the subject heading: Instructions to juries--followed by the state you want.

Periodical Indexes


Useful search terms include: Trial practice; Jury or Juries; Witnesses; Evidence; Motions; Pretrial procedure; Pleading.

LegalTrac. Index coverage: 1980- .

  • LegalTrac is available within Mondale Hall via the Law School Network and in the Law Library via public workstations. Law School faculty and students may access LegalTrac from outside Mondale Hall. LegalTrac is also available under the name, Legal Resource Index via these databases: LexisNexis Academic, LexisNexis and Westlaw.

Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (ILP) Index coverage: 1982 - .

  • ILP is available throughout Mondale Hall via the Law School Network and at public workstations in the Law Library. Law School faculty and students may access ILP from outside Mondale Hall.  ILP is also available via Westlaw.

Current Index to Legal Periodicals Seattle, WA: University of Washington Law Library and Washington Law Review, 1968- .


Minnesota Legal Periodical Index (MLPI) St. Paul, MN: Minnnesota State Law Library, 1984- (Actual coverage varies by title indexed).

  • LOCATION: REFERENCE / K33.M56x (in print through July 2000).
  • LOCATION: Electronic version at Law Moose

LexisNexis & Westlaw


LexisNexis databases under the topic Litigation Practice and Procedure include some jury instructions, periodicals, and Benders Forms of Discovery, a multi-volume treatise containing interrogatories for both civil and criminal matters arranged by subject.

LexisNexis Academic has jury instruction databases for 21 states and D.C. It also includes the publications: ABA Model Jury Instructions Securities Litigation and Jury Instructions in Commercial Litigation.  Use the path: Sources > Browse Sources > Court Materials & Jury Instructions > Jury Instructions.

Westlaw litigation databases include a variety of sources: AMJUR-POF contains Am Jur Proof of Facts; AMJUR-TRIALS contains Am Jur Trials; FORMS-PP includes national and state-specific pleading and practice court forms used in civil litigation.  The LTG-TP database includes texts, legal practice-oriented periodicals, CLE course materials, and form books.  Also check the the Westlaw directory under Litigation for a variety of sources containing jury instructions, pleadings, expert witness information, and other trial practice material.

Internet Resources