Jury Leadership = Your Success

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You have a case of negligence. You successfully laid the understanding of that definition with your jurors (see our previous article on legalese here). What now? Are you going to let them meander around the countryside, hoping they find your cabin in the woods? I don’t think so. You need to lead them home; you need to establish leadership with the jurors.

The big picture is that jurors are humans and have human emotions and biases. Let this guide your opening argument. Practice thinking like a juror, not like a lawyer.



Our research at First Court has given us key insights into how the average person responds to corporations and lawyers. Take the following points into your next jury trial:

No. 1: Winning the Emotional Right to Lead the Jury in the Opening.

The average person is not accustomed to seeing the great tragedy and sufferings that cases tend to entail. Legal teams tend to forget this. Set up your arguments in your opening so that jurors see you as caring and in touch with the plaintiff individual.

No. 2: What To Do with Your leadership?

Your leadership should have one goal – to focus the trial and the jurors on causation and compensatory damages. The defense can bring home a huge win by properly focusing here. It will take supreme discipline to walk away from covering all the bases. But you cannot be two-faced, take responsibility, and lead the jury to a fair damage award OR make every legal argument­ and face the likelihood of a nuclear verdict. You choose.

No. 3: Don’t Embrace Losing Arguments.

Stay away from them! The legal team must avoid any argument irritating the jury to win the leadership struggle. In a 23-person private trial, the jurors were asked: “What would your reaction be if the corporation being blamed for this injury claimed the plaintiff did not suffer pain as a result of their actions?”

Only four jurors thought that was appropriate for the case,, and the other 19 said it “bothered/irritated” them. The numbers speak very clearly. To maintain the leadership of the jury, you must be very conscientious not to come across as unaware or uncaring toward the plaintiff’s pain and suffering.

No. 4: S*** Happens Sometimes to People.

There are extraneous circumstances that can distract from the fundamental questions. For example, addiction. Many jurors can have strong feelings toward this or similar situations. It is effective for you to blame the addiction for its effects, whereas blaming the person can minimize the empathy you get from jurors. Show that you are in the business of fighting addiction. Embrace this mission. It is morally good for the legal team to blame the addiction and to be saddened by what addiction does to so many good people. Showing the jurors that you have real compassion for a person suffering from addiction can go a long way toward winning the right to lead the jury.

We hope you can benefit from the above tips. If you would like more, please connect with us via phone or email!


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Michael Liffrig

Mike’s passion is to wake up each morning and resolve conflicts over money. This usually involves 1) giving clients effective tools for making a fair evaluation of their case, and 2) creating workable channels of communication so that lawyers and claim handlers can quickly overcome their differences. Growing up in a small town USA, Mike spent his summers building barbed-wire fences, working cattle, and picking rocks on the wind-swept wheat fields of western North Dakota. To assist his realtor father in selling homes, he learned the great value of paint and caulking. He and his wife Julie have raised nine children on a cattle, horse, and sheep ranch featuring all species of flora and fauna.

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