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What Makes A Great Trial Lawyer? 3 Tips and Tools

“In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure.”

-Confucious

The vast majority of lawyers do not communicate effectively with jurors. How do I know this? As a seasoned trial lawyer for nearly a quarter century, I have a success record at trial that is unmatched. My winning record stems from a universal truth: great trial lawyers are great storytellers. Below I describe the tools that make up a trial lawyer’s ability to effectively storytell. At Corless Barfield Trial Group, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional service in a variety of practice areas, from property damage claims to personal injury law. Call Corless Barfield Trial Group today at 813-258-4998 for a free consultation.

  1. Simplification – A good story can be relatively short: the 272-word Gettysburg Address said a great deal in just few words. Most trial lawyers do not comprehend the successful impact that simplifying cases has on jurors. Even if they do appreciate it, simplification is both a science and an art, and it takes skill as well as innate talent to master it. Storytelling has a psychological and neurological component that makes humans favor easy-to-follow narratives. Simple sentences are more powerful and easier to remember than complex ones. A soundbite is better than a rambling paragraph. Simplistic storytelling is crucial at all stages of litigation, including jury selection, opening statements, direct and cross-examinations, and closing arguments, which should powerfully reinforce the unified story of the case. Exceptional trial lawyers work on the story of the case long before jury selection begins so that they are able to maintain a consistent and powerful story theme throughout the trial. When you tell a story, you are laying the foundation for successful communication between yourself, the judge, and the jury as storytelling is at the essence of how humans relate to each other.
  2. Professionalism – The field of law is often characterized as a profession in crisis. Oftentimes my adversaries will make rude remarks to witnesses or myself. This is usually done to mask an imperfect, troubled case, and judges and jurors see right through it. Displays of disrespect between opposing counsel distracts from the substance of the case. Projecting a respectful, positive attitude to the judge, the judge’s staff, and the jury are of paramount importance. Lack of professionalism is felt by jurors and judges, and they do not fancy bad behavior. Judges and jurors do not like when attorneys disrespect or behave unkindly to witnesses or their adversaries. Jurors pay attention to not only verbal exchanges between counsel but also nonverbal communications, including facial expressions, eye rolling, and body language. If jurors perceive disrespect, they will be unforgiving.
  3. Preparation – Preparation is perhaps the most important tool in a trial lawyer’s arsenal but you wouldn’t believe how pronounced the lack of prep is. How can a lawyer accept a case, go through discovery, motion practice, and trial preparation and not know exactly what he or she needs to prove in terms of claims or defenses? Lack of preparation manifests itself in a failure to be organized. Jurors and judges do not like lawyers that have to search and fumble for exhibits or notes. The best trial lawyers have the ability to cut through reams of pleadings, exhibits, and deposition transcripts to find the essence of the narrative that will persuade the jury. To be an effective trial lawyer, you have to out-prepare your adversary. It is undoubtedly much easier for jurors to sort through complicated evidence, argument, and legal theories when the attorney neatly packages and presents it in an organized and efficient way.

At Corless Barfield Trial Group, we value results that get justice and maximum compensation for our clients. Jurors expect attorneys to act professional and respectful to everyone in the courtroom and to present clear, organized, and relevant evidence and arguments without dramatics or aggression. Jurors do not like having their time wasted, so preparation is tantamount, too. For a free evaluation of your property damage or personal injury case, call Corless Barfield Trial Group today at 813-258-4998.

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