What It Takes To Be A Great Lawyer – Part 15

An Understanding of the Human Condition and What It Takes to Motivate Jurors to Action

You can’t try jury cases if you don’t understand how people think.  I am not talking about how  the way other members of the club think.  Nor am I talking about the thought processes or values of  the people you see at every disease ball.  

No, I’m talking about the way that "real" people think.  The way the guy cleaning the golf carts at the club thinks.  Or the woman clearing the dirty dishes at the disease ball.  Or the woman supervising the crew on the assembly line.  Or  the guy who works a second job driving a taxi.  In other words, I’m talking about the way that jurors think.

It is hard to keep up with how real people think.   The fact of the matter is that advanced education tends to divorce one from most people in our society.    Even worse, a law school education separates you from the way ordinary people process information and the language you learn there is not juror-friendly.  Then, the money earned practicing law impacts your lifestyle and thus the people around you.  You move up a neighborhood or two, tend to surround yourself with other people who have similar lifestyles, and all of a sudden you are surrounded by those with wealth and privilege.  Those folks are usually not on juries and the way they think is simply unlike the way that real people think.

Great trial lawyers  stay in touch with how real people think and thus how they can be motivated to action.    They talk to the guy that fixes their car, the woman that cuts their hair, and the server at the barbecue restaurant.  They listen to the non-lawyers in their office and encourage their candid opinions about cases.  They use focus groups as appropriate to test themes and presentations of evidence.  They read about how to understand people and motivate them.   They use the language of the jury, not the language of their Secured Transactions  professor.   They use demonstrative aids designed to educate, not just wow, the jury. 

In summary, great trial lawyers know that the advanced education and privilege they have experienced is a handicap before a jury.   They use their best efforts to overcome that handicap by interacting with and endeavoring to understand those who will be jurors.

The rest of the series.