If Google is any indication, it seems nearly every attorney wants to improve in the courtroom.
Plug in the term “trial practice tips” and Google returns “about 11 million results.”
A search for “better trial practice” throws 20.8 million entries back to you.
“Cross examination techniques?” A whopping 5 million results.
Even something much more specific, “medical malpractice themes,” for example, delivers 131,000 pages.
These sites run the gamut of quality and relevance: from bar association-sponsored seminars featuring the best attorneys in the country to landing pages hawking poorly edited ebooks.
But even the best classes and articles come up short on improving your trial performance, because they don’t show exactly how to translate that advice to a courtroom. A conference featuring a lecture from one of the country’s best attorneys, informative as it may be, is just that—a lecture. It doesn’t show you that attorney in action. It's like Robert DeNiro telling you about how his role in Goodfellas if you've never seen the movie. What makes that role so powerful is lost.
Like acting, trial advocacy is an art, not a science. As important as the law and evidence are to a case, it’s the way that law is argued and how that evidence is presented that win a judgment. No matter how detailed a book or thorough a lecture, they cannot show you the nuance that makes a winning trial technique live, breathe, and influence jurors. It’s that nuance, under the pressure of live courtroom conditions that is critical. Without seeing that nuance, the technique no matter how wel described, is incomplete.
Moreover, lectures and books typically limit themselves to generic, hard-and-fast approaches. But trial practice isn’t one-size-fits-all. An opening that works for one attorney may be disastrous for a lawyer with a different personality. And a seminar on product liability cases, no matter how detailed, will likely not delve into how to best highlight the unique circumstances underlying a specific hip implant suit.
Before the advent of courtroom video, an attorney’s options for seeing techniques put in use at trial were limited. Mentorships and new attorney programs can be effective but are largely dependent on the strength of the mentors. Watching the best attorneys in a given field, or scouting a specific case in person required time, expense, and luck that few practicing attorneys have.
But the growth of video in courtroom journalism has built a vast library of the best trial advocacy in the country, available online and on demand. Courtroom video is your window into every moment of how the best attorneys in your field try cases like yours. It brings to life the best and worst advice a book or seminar might provide and shows you the results. It allows you to see gavel-to-gavel, the sweep of successful approaches and strategies that you can tailor to complement your own personality.
In short, video provides the full picture that an article or lecture can never deliver. It’s an on-demand, master class of trial advocacy.
Three Tips to Getting the Most Out of Video Analysis
Courtroom video is a revolutionary tool for studying the most successful courtroom strategies and techniques. But you don’t need to watch hundreds of hours of video to improve your courtroom performance. These tips will help make your analysis more efficient and effective.
- Tailor your video search to clear goals: Are you looking for how an attorney successfully runs a trucking collision case in Arizona? Then limit your search accordingly. Do you want to see how the best attorneys convey their theme in openings of a medical malpractice case? Then you need search, and watch, only those portions.
- Watch the best of a variety of attorneys: Even the best lawyers are usually known for a key strength in one or two areas. A lawyer who delivers thunderous closings, for example, may be only workmanlike in their direct examinations. Focus on what an attorney does best.
- Find attorneys who best complement your natural personality in the courtroom. Improving courtroom performance doesn’t mean abandoning your personality. Juries can spot a lawyer’s discomfort with a presentation style at odds with their natural demeanor. If you are more subdued, don’t try to force an approach used successfully by a fiery orator. Find and study an attorney whose technique you feel you would be comfortable with on your best day at trial.