by Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
Everyone, regardless of political persuasion, can agree that a significant portion of the U.S. electorate voted for change in this week’s presidential election. And the way the whole 18-month campaign went certainly represented a change from the way most campaigns have gone in our history.
But while we as a country – at least every four or eight years – seem to like change, lawyers not so much. Maybe that reflects what we learned in law school. Law is governed by precedent, and if there are changes to precedent, they are incremental at best. Or, maybe it reflects the role we assume as advisers and the tendency for many in our profession to be cautious and risk-averse.
Regardless of your attitude toward changes in the law, in your political leaders, or in what your clients do, we believe that in the arena of trial advocacy change is very often a good thing. Here are five examples.
- Literally, change the font you are using for exhibits and displays. Mix it up occasionally. Pick a less common font, but not one that calls too much attention to itself. Jurors will notice the unusual font, although they may not know just what they’re noticing, and they will stay awake and attentive. See, Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?
- Change your narrative. Don’t be wedded to telling your story a certain way, but be open to other people’s thoughts and perspectives. Aunt Sally’s apple pie wasn’t perfect the first time; it took years to fine tune that recipe. It could take many run-throughs to get an opening statement just right. See, 10 Types of Value Added by Litigation Graphics Consultants
- Change the perspective. Within a trial, tell the story from more than one viewpoint. If your opening statement is told from the perspective of your client, you might want to mix things up so that your closing argument features the thoughts of a particularly convincing witness. The opening and the closing don’t have to match. They can be different, based on a preconceived plan. This will also keep the jurors awake and interested, and it will provide depth to your narrative. See, Are You Smarter Than a Soap Opera Writer?
- Change your approach to working with your team. Ask yourself if there have been miscommunications or tensions. To get the most out of everyone on the team (lawyers, paralegals, vendors, and so on) think about the best way to motivate them. Be prepared to adjust. See, 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams
- Change yourself. Billy Joel said, “Don’t go changing to try and please me,” it’s true – but lawyers are in the business of trying to please jurors and others. Don’t resist the process of making yourself a more effective lawyer. Most lawyers who do trial advocacy think they are already at the top of their profession – and many are. But even the best can learn and grow. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators