Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tips for more effective opening statements

From the ABA Magazine's Young Advocates Column, Litigation Section:  "Opening Statements: Tips for Effectiveness in 15 Minutes or Less."  An excerpt below.

Many lawyers overlook this truth. They begin opening statements with commonly bad phrases such as “good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the jury”; “first and foremost, thank you for your service”; and “please allow me to introduce you to my client.” They drone on and on and become mired in minutiae in a valueless attempt to explain every detail of their case. They employ unnecessary adverbs and haphazardly make bold promises. Such strategies do not create a remarkable first impression, let alone a lasting one.

How exactly should you begin your opening statement? And how should your opening statement continue through its conclusion? There is no set piece that will work for every trial. If there were, legal practice would be boring and trial outcomes would be predictable. However, there are guidelines that lawyers should adhere to.

1. Have the right approach.

2. Learn the fundamentals of effective storytelling at trial.

3. Know your audience.

4. Do not confuse the opening statement with the closing argument.

5. Explain bad facts.

6. Do not rely too much on visual aids.

7. Practice.

8. Promise only what you know you can deliver.

9. Consider whether to comment on the trial process.

10. Remain flexible.

11. Conclude with your theme.

Click here for the full article.


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