Discover the Story

I just finished a three day seminar taught by Bob Dawson and Mark Wagner. Both are successful personal injury lawyers. Both are graduates of The Gerry Spence Trial College. Although the seminar was not part of the Gerry Spence Trial College, it is clear both have changed how they practice law based on what they learned at The Trial College.

Discover the Story. At the seminar Bob and Mark stressed representation of a personal injury plaintiff cannot be done at the highest level unless the lawyer takes the time to discover the client’s story. The client’s story consists of the emotional components of their injury.

Listen. The client must reveal the significant emotional moments of her injury. Getting this to happen is the first step in becoming a quality trial lawyer. The key is to internalize our client’s emotional moments related to her injury. The only way this can be done is to listen to the client. The tendency is to illicit facts of the case from the client, and soon begin to fill in the facts with how we interpret the facts. We learn as early as law school how courts interpret facts. We want our client to have a case similar to other successful cases so he processes our client’s story like a successful personal injury case.  Thus, the story at least partially becomes our story. Once this happens our client’s story loses it’s emotional impact-it becomes a factual lawyer’s version. This causes the story to lack authenticity. The jury picks this up. The result is either bad or at best less than what the result will be if the story is told from the heart having internalized its emotional impact.

Your Story. Dawson and Wagner also teach to try a case at the highest level we must know our own story. This requires us to get in touch with our client’s emotions through relating to our own similar emotions. This means our betrayals, loves,  successes and failures.By doing this we are able to walk in our client’s shoes with honesty and reflection. Here we relate at the highest level with our client and the jury.

Honesty. Honesty must permeate our case from jury selection through closing argument. When we suffer defeat in a jury trial the tendency is to see the jury as a “bad jury” as if it is the jury that failed to appreciate our case. In reality it is our fault in failing to appreciate the case. When we tell the story on a surface level without demonstrating the emotions that accompany the story we leave the jury with an empty story. The jury responds with empty appreciation. When we get to the emotional level reliving the significant emotional moments of the injury we recreate what happens to our client. It is raw, it is real, it is full. The jury responds with a full result.

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3 Responses to “Discover the Story”

  1. […] for Your Mission. To try the case we must know the case. This means knowing our client’s story. Our client’s story starts with knowing our client’s background, unique […]

  2. […] Discover the Story. Knowing and trusting from one’s heart what needs to be done must be matched with knowing and understanding what our client has gone through and is going through in dealing with her injury. This is done by discovering our client’s story. Under the Spence Method we learn how this is done. Discovering the story allows us to bring the story to the jury in a way that relives the client’s emotions. […]

  3. […] and Forget.  To try the case at the highest level we discover our client’s story and show the story at trial. In each phase of  trial we have imaged the phase and prepared […]

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