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Book Review: "Kick-Ass Closings" Gives Lawyers the Tools to Win Cases

Kick-Ass Closings: A Guide to Giving the Best Closing Argument of Your Life

Filled with closing argument gems, compelling quotations, and helpful charts, the new book Kick-Ass Closings: A Guide to Giving the Best Closing Argument of Your Life gives lawyers the firepower to deliver convincing closing arguments with minimal prep time.

Created by best-selling author and criminal defense lawyer Michael S. Waddington, Kick-Ass Closings is 475 pages of successful closing arguments by prominent trial lawyers who actually try cases and win.

Kick-Ass Closings is a guide to giving the best closing argument of your life,” Waddington says. “The book is really designed for criminal defense attorneys, law students, and people who do mock trials. It is packed with snippets of actual closing arguments that I have used, as well as arguments from some of the most high-profile trials in the past 50 years.”

The book is available in a print and Kindle version, exclusively on

Waddington, a member of The National Trial Lawyers, is a founder of Gonzalez & Waddington, LLC, a defense law firm in Evans, Georgia. He has provided consultation services to CNN Investigative Reports, “60 Minutes,” Katie Couric of Yahoo News, ABC’s “Nightline,” the BBC, German Public Television, CNN, CBS, and the TV series “The Good Wife.”

Key Nuggets

The massive book contains the key nuggets from 310 closing arguments from legendary lawyers and high-profile trials such as Johnnie Cochran representing O.J. Simpson, Jose Baez representing Casey Anthony, and Thomas Mesereau representing Michael Jackson.

It also includes closings from renowned lawyers like Mark Geragos, Eric Romano, Mark O’Mara, Gerry Spence, Timothy Bilecki, Dean Strang, Barry Scheck, Timothy Bilecki, James A.H. Bell, Brian Bieber, Cheney Mason, Robert Casale, Jerome Buting and more.

“It's not the entire closing argument from the trial, because that would not be helpful to the readers. We picked out the nuggets. For example, in the OJ Simpson case, I looked at Barry Scheck giving OJ's closing argument, and I picked out specific portions that I thought were very well-delivered and it could help drive a point home,” Waddington says.

Waddington himself tries more than 20 felony cases to a verdict every year, which allowed him to see recurring patterns – ranging from an incompetent investigation, a corrupt police officer or a cynical prosecutor.

“I decided to create a concise manual for lawyers who don't have the experience and don't have the ability to go through hundreds of trials,” he says. “Attorneys can go to Kick-Ass Closings to figure out how to explain reasonable doubt, for example. In the book, there are about 25 different ways to explain that to the jury from different lawyers in different cases.”

Criminal defense lawyer and author Michael Waddington.

The greatest closing arguments

The book opens with a 10-step template followed by many of the greatest closing arguments. Attorneys can tailor the template to fit their fact pattern, and add or remove portions that apply.

The closing arguments cover topics like circumstantial evidence, attacking the prosecution, witnesses who lie, cops & investigators, defenses for specific rimes, and shutting down the rebuttal.

One brief example is by Clarence Darrow from The People v. Henry Sweet: “You people are not lawyers. You do not know how hard it was to make them admit the truth. It is harder to pull the truth out of a reluctant witness than to listen to them lie.” Another is Johnnie Cochran in The People v. OJ Simpson: “You can’t trust the message. You can’t trust the messengers.”

“We have a section on types of defenses -- everything from self-defense to arguing abandonment. For example, I used an example of Mark O'Mara's closing where he describes self-defense in the Zimmerman case, which was a very controversial case where he won a full acquittal. But you get the insight into what he argued and what other people argued,” Waddington said.

Pithy Quotes and Charts

Kick-Ass Closings features 20 pages of pithy quotes and parables, ranging from “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to John Adams who said in 1770, "It is more important that innocence be protected than that the guilty be punished."

The book includes Waddington’s own favorite quote, “Physical, forensic, and scientific evidence does not lie, people do,” which he used in US v. Montece.

There are several charts that depict difficult concepts in a clearly visible way. One that explains the Levels of Proof as a stairstep beginning with “no evidence” and leading up to “reasonable doubt” – each of which equals a not guilty verdict.

Waddington’s book is an encyclopedia of pungent closings that can be looked up with a detailed table of contents. If you are an attorney who tries a criminal case, whether it’s your first case or your 300th, you can benefit from this book. It should be on every lawyer’s bookshelf.

Watch Michael Waddington in a short video on YouTube:

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