A chicago criminal lawyer learns a new language in law school. That language is dense with theory, legal jargon and even a few doses of Latin. While law students are encouraged to provide minute analyses of potential arguments or points at issue in every fact pattern, the legal practice areas are quite different, especially in a courtroom. In court, your audience is not a law professor, but a juror whose day-to-day life experiences may have little to do with the law or the subject matter of the case.
Lawyers must develop a rapport with jury members within the confines of trial rules, while clearly conveying their arguments to these decision-makers who may have no legal training. There may be only limited instruction on the technical aspects of the law. Understanding the unique perspective of jurors on a legal case is crucial to winning a verdict. To improve your chances for success, consider not only the strength of your argument but how to get your message across. To ensure that you are properly conveying your message, here are 3 trial strategy tips to consider.
Determine the Best Delivery Method
Jurors are often visual. It is the quickest and most direct way they receive information. It goes without saying that your exhibits and presentations may influence their view of your case. Take the time to plan and execute a delivery method that gives your side the best shot at success, including how it will appeal to jurors who are listening and watching your argument. When it is vital for each juror to understand the small details in your case, how you convey those details has a great impact on the outcome.
Start with high-quality trial graphics. If you must recreate a scenario, such as a vehicle collision or workplace accident, your pictures should clearly show the important aspects of the event. Each juror should see the direction each car was moving, the road signs and passenger locations, if those are important to your case. In every instance ask yourself if your trial graphics clearly convey your argument.
Analyze your graphics in the context of your courtroom setup. Graphics must be large enough to be clearly visible from the jurors’ seats and have maximum impact from their vantage point. Do your best to encourage the jurors to turn themselves toward you; in general, a square body orientation shows the juror is listening to you and is accepting what you say.
Rehearse your oral arguments in a mock version of your courtroom setup. Get in the habit of using the graphics to support your speaking points. If you are comfortable with your presentation, you’ll avoid any awkward moments setting up equipment or fussing with pictures during the trial. This will prevent unnecessary juror distraction.
Analyze the Case Through the Jurors’ Eyes
An important rule of thumb is to keep your arguments simple. Although the backgrounds, education levels and legal knowledge will vary between juries, there are a couple of things they have in common. Your jury is new to your case and new to your client. Jurors will make a judgment based on the evidence alone and that evidence should be as straightforward as possible. Overloading the jury with information can make them feel overwhelmed and cause boredom.
Deliver your argument in layman’s terms. Even common legal terms like “liability,” “damages,” and “fault” may mean something different to jury members than to lawyers. Introduce information related to case perceptions that you gathered in your pre-trial analysis of the jury. Ultimately, you want the jury to listen to you, be open to what you’re saying, and fully understand your oral argument.
Isolate the Critical Issues
Legal trials are packed with information but you want jurors to focus on your critical issues. These will probably be different from the issues advanced by the attorney on the other side. But even in cases where winning or losing turns on a single element, you want the jury to narrow in on that issue. Throughout your oral argument and witness questioning, revisit this issue as much as possible. Reinforce your main takeaway for the jury in your opening and closing arguments in clear, easy-to-understand language.
How Magna Helps
Magna provides insight into how a jury will perceive your case. You are the legal experts who know what you must prove in order to win at trial. At Magna, we help you to get your message across. Through our legal consultation services and advice on graphics, war room and courtroom setups, we can help you create a successful trial strategy. Our team gives you the perspective of the jury so you know how to effectively tweak your communication efforts. You can use our legal trial strategy tips to evaluate the quality of your arguments and the effectiveness of your evidence presentations.
Magna is another tool you can use to improve your success rate in a competitive legal environment. Jurors, like all individuals, are often easily distracted, fixate on odd details and introduce their own take on an existing set of facts. We will help you to know your audience by giving you unique insight into what jurors are thinking and how you can bring them back on track to the strength of your argument.