A good personal injury trial lawyer is a good story teller. That’s what it takes to win a trial. A trial is really about competing stories. Whichever side tells the best, most compelling, and most believable story, wins.
That’s why a good personal injury trial attorney shuns boring power point presentations with bullet points. Charts, graphs and bullet points are ok to a certain extent. But they had better be quick, colorful, and add to the story.
Why are stories so powerful at persuading juries? That’s just the way us humans evolved. Ever since we learned to speak we have been sitting around the fire telling stories that explain everything: The beginning of the universe, the cause of thunder, the creation of us humans. We are hard-wired that way. Our brains “perk up” when we start to hear a story. We pay attention. We get emotionally involved.
If your lawyer thinks a jury trial is just about the facts or the law of your case, then you should probably switch lawyers. Ask your lawyer, “what story are you going to tell at trial”? If his face becomes blank, fire him!
A winning case is always about a winning story. A personal injury lawyer’s job is to find the story of the case and breathe life into it at trial.
For example, a slip and fall in a busy store entrance way is not about, “the store owner breaching his duty of care to the customer by failing to salt”. The story is about human greed. It’s about an owner who wanted to cut costs, and thus pocket more money, at the expense of his customers’ safety. It’s also about a hard-working family provider who, because of the defendant’s greed, can no longer provide for his loved ones.
A good trial lawyer starts looking for the “story” in his case from the time he opens the file. Before trial, he boils the story down to a “theme” – a strong one liner he can repeat over and over again at trial. It’s his “hook” for the jury’s attention. For example, “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”. Or, in our slip and fall case, “the store owner put his profits above our safety”.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
michaels-smolak.com Central NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.