UW News

May 6, 2004

Winning help from a lawyer: Wiehl touts book

A self-help book from a law professor?

That’s only the latest surprise to come from Lis Wiehl, an associate professor of law who is better known to millions of Americans as a capable jouster in the cable-TV news pundit pits.

Wiehl’s new book, Winning Every Time, shares lawyers’ trial techniques — skills she says can help non-lawyers in such daily life situations as talking a boss into giving a raise or a child into doing homework.

Ballantine is heavily promoting the $24.95 book, which Wiehl will discuss at the UW School of Law on Monday, May 10 at 7 p.m. in Room 115.

In it, Wiehl walks readers through the steps that lawyers follow to build an effective case, such as thinking through the “theory of the case,” identifying the audience and gathering evidence.

“Part of our job as academics is to make our work accessible to people not in academia,” Wiehl said in an interview. “And I’m hearing from people who’ve called me and said this has helped them.”

In its second week on the market, the book already has shot into Amazon.com’s top 200 in sales.

Though Wiehl is director of the UW School of Law’s Trial Advocacy Program, she has been on unpaid leave all year to focus on her writing — with another leave planned for next school year to write another book whose topic she is not ready to disclose (UW law grad Maureen Howard handles the trial program in her absence).

When she is not writing, Wiehl is sparring with Bill O’Reilly on their nationally syndicated daily radio show (KTTH 770 AM in Seattle), and she also pops up an average of once a day as a legal commentator on O’Reilly’s and other Fox News Network programs. Wiehl commutes to Fox’s Manhattan studio from Westchester County, N.Y., where she lives with her two children.

Despite Fox’s conservative reputation, Wiehl says she personally approaches each issue on its merits, with a tendency to see some social issues from a liberal perspective, but as a former federal prosecutor, law-enforcement matters to her. Her experience at the Fox network has been positive.

“I can only look at how I’m treated,” she says. “What I appreciate about Fox is that I’m never told what opinions I should have.”

Wiehl says she doesn’t have to be on the East Coast to connect with people through the news media; she started doing Fox appearances, NPR commentaries and other media work while she was teaching at the UW and building up its award-winning trial program.

Wiehl’s UW ties are deep. She was born at the UW Hospital, and her father and grandfather were UW law graduates (Wiehl herself, however, studied law at Harvard).

The UW ties even extend to Wiehl’s brother and her mother (doctorate in English).

The upcoming author tour will have an extra benefit for Wiehl — she’ll get to spend Mother’s Day with her mom.