As a dad of triplets, I have a unique perspective on fatherhood.
Sure, there are many dads with many more kids, but until you've had to learn how to feed three infants simultaneously, how to keep track of three similar-looking people in a crowd, or how to negotiate a quick settlement in a heated dispute over who will wear that special dress over the coming week, you just have not lived the life of a triplet dad.
As I head into Father's Day weekend, I'm thinking about all of the questions I regularly get asked by friends and strangers alike. Are they triplets? Are they all yours? How do you do it?
The 'how do you do it' question in particular reminds me of the work we do as lawyers or as litigation consultants engaging in trial preparation. So, it is with a blend of tongue firmly planted in cheek and with some real-life lessons that I share the 9 ways that trial preparation and trial itself are similar to being a triplet dad.
- Storytelling is essential: Just as my six-year-old girls are mesmerized by my nightly reading of Harry Potter, your jury will best be persuaded if you incorporate storytelling into your trial presentation. Here's a free book we've written about storytelling and here is a free webinar on litigation storytelling you can watch anytime.
- Outsource to experts: Similar to the way my wife and I relied on a triplet baby nurse to help our premature infants get a healthy start in life and to learn to sleep through the night, it is best to rely on outside trial experts who go to trial dozens or even hundreds of times per year for jury consulting, litigation graphics, persuasion consulting and trial technology consulting.
- If it's working, don't change it: One thing I learned early on in fatherhood was that if three kids are happy, don't change anything. I often see many parents interrupt a perfectly content child to get them to do something else, and I don't get that unless you disapprove of what they are doing. The same is true for trial preparation. If you are consistently successful using a particular approach, why change it? If you think times are changing and you need to adapt, then do so before you get a bad result. Claiming a free subscription to this litigation blog is a good way to stay one step ahead.
- Don't lose your cool: Whether you are parenting or whether you are working with your trial team on the eve of trial, you just can't lose your cool with so much at stake. Here are some good resources that can help: 10 Signs the Pressure is Getting to You and What to Do About It and When a Good Trial Team Goes Bad: The Psychology of Team Anxiety.
- Prepare for the unexpected: Just as one must prepare for the unexpected on a family outing, your trial preparation is only good to the degree that you've tested it's weak points. This is why we advocate for highly-structured mock trials. There is no better preparation tool available for a serious litigator. Here are five great resources related to mock trials:
- 6 Good Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial
- 7 Reasons In-House Counsel Should Want a Mock Trial
- 12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials
- 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them
- 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said
- Scheduled events make for smooth sailing: Sometimes I think both trial preparation and parenting are conducted on too much of an ad hoc basis. My wife works in real estate which can take up large chunks of some weekends. As she does when I am working, I plan activities in the outdoors or at any one of thousands of interesting places to go in the DC-area. The kids have fun, they usually learn something, and I have fun. Contrast this with an ad hoc approach of waking up and waiting until the last minute to decide what to do. It rarely generates good results. The same is true for trial. Perfect planning prevents poor performance. Use our one-year from trial calendar to plan your mock trial schedule and other trial preparation to take an organized approach to trial prep.
- Use compelling and persuasive visuals: Whether kids, a jury, your colleagues or the general public, learning how to teach and persuade with visuals is critical since more than two-thirds of the people prefer to learn this way. Here are five great resources related to litigation graphics:
- 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
- [Download New E-Book] Using Litigation Graphics to Persuade
- Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You
- Good-Looking Graphic Design ≠ Good-Working Visual Persuasion
- 16 Litigation Graphics Lessons for Mid-Sized Law Firms
- Don't be afraid to go outside: The picture above is of my kids when my wife and I were headed out for date night recently. The kids are sad to see us go, but as any parent knows, spending time as a couple is critical for parental happiness. For those preparing for trial, the lesson here is to remember to get outside of your daily routine and daily circles when preparing for trial. Talk to litigation consultants, talk to your colleagues and talk to your family about the case. It's amazing how commonsense insights can go overlooked when one is too in their own head.
- Celebrate success and remember time flies: In the context of trial, my favorite trial teams are those that schedule a thank you lunch, take our people out for drinks or even give us post-trial mementos to remember the great work we did together. The litigators who lead these teams are the best in the business. They know that recognition and a kind gesture creates loyalty for life. In the parenting context, I'll highlight something one of my friends did recently. Seeing his daughter growing up fast, he wrote her a song. Then, in an effort to connect more deeply with her, they flew to Nashville, they rented a studio, they hired a band and they recorded the song. They did something similar for a video. For all the dads out there, but especially those with daughters, the video below is heartwarming and a good reminder to cherish the time you have, celebrate the people around you and make the everyday moments count.
I hope this article provided some useful reminders. Happy Father's Day.