Opening Statement Thoughts

Recently read a column in The Wall Street Journal titled The Fine Art Of Where To Start [a story] by Darin Strauss. Mr. Strauss says the most important part of a story is the beginning as in the first words out of our mouth in opening statement.

Opening Statement Tells a Story. In a personal injury case the story involves an injury to plaintiff. Mr. Strauss says the first lesson in story telling is to remember “A story equals trouble.” The personal injury story must discuss how the trouble caused injury to plaintiff.

Beginning the Story. Mr. Strauss  believes the sooner we introduce the trouble into the story the more likely our listeners (the jury) will pay close attention. To Strauss this means beginning the story with the critical action of the trouble. 

Jacob Appel in Writer’s Digest reasons: “I started devoting an entire session of my writing class to opening lines when I realized that the last formal instruction I’d had on the subject was the grade school admonition that stories should begin with a hook.’” In the years since, I’ve come to believe that the fate of most …[stories] is sealed within the initial …[phrases]—and that the seeds of that triumph or defeat are usually sown by the end of the very first sentence.

The Current Model. Quality lawyers and jury consultants teach to begin opening statement by telling the jury the story.  When telling the story David Ball advocates beginning with the rule then going to the story focusing on defendant rather then plaintiff. Mr. Ball usually begins the story before the trouble. In a factual narrative he teaches let the story unfold as it happened with plaintiff being introduced after defendant causes the trouble.

Current Model Revised. We plan on tweaking the Ball model by beginning defendant’s impact caused by the trouble. We will state this in a thematic way introducing our theme with the impact caused by the trouble. This is similar to Ball’s model of beginning with the rule. After this beginning we will go to the narrative focusing on defendant. After the narrative gets to defendant causing the trouble we will introduce plaintiff as the victim of the trouble. 

    4 Responses to “Opening Statement Thoughts”

    1. Gaynell Gaspar says:

      hehe cool ! I love this site 🙂

    2. Tabitha Moreland says:

      The layout is what really caught my eye, then the i looked at the writing and i think you did a very nice job. Good work:)

    3. Thank you for this post! This has helped me a lot!

    4. poorourry says:

      I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.

    Leave a Reply