Cross-Examination: Ten Top Tips

Cross-Examination:  Ten Top Tips

Whilst studying on the Bar Course, I attended the Middle Temple Advocacy Weekend at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park.  This involved intensive schooling in the art of cross-examination, as well as “direct” examination (a.k.a. examination-in-chief) and closing speeches (a.k.a. summation).

On Sunday morning, after breakfast, one had the choice of attending church at the Royal Chapel, where there’s the possibility of meeting The Queen afterwards, or staying put at the Lodge, where a video on cross-examination is played.

I chose the former… and was fortunate to be introduced to Her Majesty!  Not bad for a kid from Yardley Wood.

On returning home, I googled the name of the video I’d missed and was chuffed to find it online.  The video is rather epically titled:  “The Ten Commandments of Cross-Examination!”

I can’t recommend it enough.  The speaker, Irving Younger, was an American trial lawyer and judge.  His famous lecture is around 45 minutes in length, and it’s essential for any aspiring advocate.  I recall showing the video to my advocacy tutor, who gave it her nod of approval.  Great fun, too!

However, at 45 minutes, it’s unlikely that most Bar students will watch this apt video more than once.  With this in mind, I’ve created a 10-minute version — carefully edited to include only the most vital parts.

You must avoid emulating Younger’s brash style!  American advocacy has always been less formal than the conservative style adopted by English courts.  But Younger’s tips are valid everywhere, so you can deploy them with confidence.


If you’d like to carry Younger’s “Ten Commandments” around in your pocket (free!), then follow these simple steps:

– Copy the link to this video
– Visit
– Paste the link into the search box
– Click ‘search’ to call up the video
– Click ‘mp3 download’

…. and presto!  You’ll have a short audio lecture for your iPod or portable mp3 player.  Use it to prepare for your live cross-examination assessment (as I did).

In closing, here are the ten commandments at-a-glance:

1 – Be brief.
2 – Short questions, plain words.
3 – Ask leading questions only.
4 – Don’t ask a question unless you already know the answer.
5 – Listen to the witness’s answers.
6 – Don’t quarrel with the witness.
7 – Don’t allow the witness to repeat his direct testimony.
8 – Don’t allow the witness to explain anything.
9 – Don’t ask the “one question too many.”
10–Save the ultimate point of your cross for summation.

Elsewhere on this blog, I offer tips and advice on passing the drafting assessment.

For help with drafting, Click Here.



One response »

  1. Pingback: Best cross-examiners on telly! | LLblawg

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