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In the Era of Trump We Must Find the Common Ground with Our Juries

In the Era of Trump We Must Find the Common Ground with Our Juries

In a post Trump election world, trial lawyers must search – even more diligently – for those small areas of common ground shared by conservative, moderate and liberal jurors. While it seems impossible, there are three important areas where we can all probably improve.

Cohesive deliberations

A polarized jury causes a divided deliberation which can, at best, lead to a compromised verdict. At worst, the plaintiff loses. Now, more than ever, we need to unite our juries. But how? We must remind jurors that they are the heroes of our story line, not spectators or mere bystanders. Only the jury can save the day, enforce safety standards and protect their community from wrongdoing. But speaking out and doing the right thing is hard. It calls for heroism. The jurors are not passive actors. They must appreciate that they are the focus of the case, the warriors of justice, the angry voice of the people. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s populism with a litigation twist.

Visual entertainment

The most entertaining political candidate just won the presidency. The majority of Americans have spoken: boring is ineffective and easily ignored. Facts be damned. Our audience wants entertainment. Plus, our jurors exist in today’s world of sensory overload. They are comfortable with TVs that show split images and multiple visuals at the same 0me, as words run along the boOom. They are accustom to sensory bombardment. In short, jurors demand entertainment. Jurors’ aOen0on spans are short and, without visual input, their memories are even shorter. Jurors expect your en0re case to be quick, interes0ng and wrapped up in 57 minutes (including commercials). If, instead, we deliver long, boring examina0ons filled with technical language and legal jargon, we lose our audience within minutes. There is new and inexpensive technology available to every lawyer that can provide fast-paced excitement through basic but impacWul visual aides. Visuals should no longer be relegated to openings and closing arguments. Instead, try visually presen0ng every aspect of your case, from direct examina0ons to cross to legal arguments. And repeat the cri0cal
visuals over and over again to create a solid memory that lasts. Even the driest and most boring of expert can be made interes0ng, or at least tolerable, by visual presenta0on. Plus, visual presenta0on is no longer expensive or difficult. There are many tools available today to assist in crea0ng impressive visual aides at liOle cost. These tools have leveled the playing field. Today the solo prac00oner can easily compete visually with the large, well-funded defense law firm.

Storytelling

We all love stories. Even as adults, we s0ll remember – with vivid detail – the fairy tales and stories we heard as a child. Wasn’t that a magical 0me of the day, when you climbed onto a parent’s lap and they opened a picture storybook? It was a special, safe, secure and memorable moment. The stories imprinted. Regardless of background, educa0on or poli0cal leaning, we all s0ll remember the stories of Rapunzel with her long blonde hair tumbling out of the tower window and Goldilocks’ adventures with the bears. We trial lawyers need to up our game in storytelling. And not just stories about our actual case, but use stories as analogies, examples and metaphors. Stories that get our message and themes across without forcing the actual facts of our case down the jurors’ throats too early. A\er all, we know that the side that shapes the narra0ve or tells the best story – which the jury remembers during delibera0ons – generally wins. – Zoe Littlepage, Littlepage Booth, Houston, TX

Zoe Littlepage, Littlepage Booth, Houston, TX, began her legal career on the defense site at Fulbright & Jaworski, but quickly switched to the plain0ff bar. As lead counsel na0onwide in all federal Prempro li0ga0on, Ms. Littlepage has li0gated cases throughout the US, most mul0million dollar compensatory and puni0ve damage awards. In addi0on to being a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, 100 of the most prominent plain0ff lawyers in the US, Ms. Littlepage was recognized by Fortune magazine in 2007 as one of America’s top twelve lawyers. Ms. Littlepage and her partner Rainey Booth worked as consultants on the television series The Prac0ce. She is Co-chair of 360’s women’s conference, Trial Skills from the Woman’s Perspec0ve, March 12 – 13, at The Ritz Carlton New Orleans.

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