Friday, March 2, 2018

Use the Value Embedded in Words to Persuade

If you are to persuade jurors, you must make the case real for them. It can’t be just about facts and figures, yet if you over-dramatize events, your case loses impact. One of the secrets to bringing events to life without resorting to histrionics or melodrama, is to bring vocal color to your words. Color is literally, painting pictures with your voice.

Within any given situation you are describing there will be a few key words that need color, life. All you have to do is make the word sound like what it means. This is much less esoteric than it seems. Technically, you either stretch the word (lengthening) or shorten it. Words such as “break” or “kick” are shortened to give the vocal rendition of a blow. Words such as “abandoned” or “painful” are stretched, lengthened to give them an aspect of suffering.

The word must not however simply be lengthened or shortened. As best you can, put into the word its value. How boring can you make the word “boring” sound? How “non-compliant” can you make the word “non-compliant” sound? How “hurt” can you make the word “hurt” sound? If you really think about what you are saying, you’ll find you do this quite naturally. It is only when we speak without paying attention to the actual words we are using that we lose the dimension of color. Practice making words sound like what they mean and you’ll open up a whole new dimension of jury persuasiveness.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Motive Matters to the Success of Your Case - Always

Whether or not you believe motive is important to your case, motive is everything to jurors. In the absence of your attributing motive, the jurors will do so, and the motive they assign may not be favorable to your client.

This is particularly true in business cases, where the human heart may not seem to play as large a part. For example, a case involving copyright infringement, fraud, or breach of contract, may lead the attorney to focus too narrowly on the legal issues. They forget to bring to light the bigger human picture, yet that is the picture the jurors will focus on: Why was the copyright issued in the first place? Who invented the whatever, what did it mean to them, to their business, their life? How did these other people come to be involved? What’s the story of their connection, their hopes and dreams when they entered the relationship? Why did it fall apart? Why, why, why is a question the jurors will ask over and over.

When you answer these more human questions for the jurors, your case – and your client – become a living, breathing matter of importance to the jurors. It appeals to their hearts and minds in a way that allows them to care. Jurors must care about your client, about your interpretation of the facts, if you are to prevail. Giving them motive goes a long way towards helping jurors care.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Be Courageous, Not Arrogant

While you undoubtedly assume a positive attitude going into a case (or try to!), it’s hard to remain upbeat when things go wrong. That’s when it’s good to remember that jurors identify with the Davids of the world, not the Goliaths. He or she who maintains a positive outlook and courage in the face of difficulties and long odds, wins favor with jurors. If, after all, you face the unexpected challenges and pitfalls of your case with a positive approach, you demonstrate by your refusal to be disheartened that your case is truly worthwhile. Never stop looking for a way forward, for the pluses, the upside of any situation.

That being said, do not confuse positivity with arrogance. An arrogant attorney assumes that he or she will be victorious just by virtue of being who they are. That attorney fails to support his/her conviction with reality, and neglects to marshal facts, arguments and witnesses appropriately.

Always remain humble about who you are. Courageous on behalf of your client, yes. Thinking you are better than everyone else, no. You are the presenter (and interpreter) of the facts, that’s all. The jurors are the most important people in the courtroom, always.