I am a trial lawyer, an advocate for people. In front of a jury, I want to feel as righteously indignant over my clients’ losses as they feel and represent them to the fullest.
To do this, a lawyer must connect the evidence the law requires with the story the clients bring, for us to be able to fully advocate on our clients’ behalf. Admissible evidence in a court of law, is any relevant testimonial, documentary, or tangible proof introduced to a factfinder to establish a claim. For the evidence to be reliable, one must lay the groundwork for the witness’ credibility and knowledge. The evidence must be authentic and able to demonstrate the causation between the act and the harm.
As a trial lawyer, it is imperative that we know our client’s story as if we have stepped in our client’s shoes. If an injury case, we must take ourselves back to the client’s life to experience the life before. If we can see the life before, we can feel the loss, to be able to guide the client to tell the story of the harm within the context of their previous life. If a commercial case, we must discover the true story of the aggrieved party. What was expected? Why? We must learn the story that leads our clients to feel betrayed, feel the breach for which they are requesting relief. The most important component is to discover our clients’ stories early on to begin our storytelling process, which is what a jury needs to make their decisions.
We explore our client’s life, knowing that we will be facing a jury, a group of twelve strangers who don’t know this person, yet have been called to make judgment on their case, knowing that our client must connect with jurors in some aspect of the jurors’ lives.
What is imperative that jurors understand? Is losing the ability to play golf much more important to our client because of trying to become a pro-golfer? Can jurors connect with a loss of a passion in their own world? Is the loss of reputation to a business much more important to the client because a grandfather struggled and was successful in establishing that business 30 years ago? Can the jury connect with feeling that type of loss? What is the client’s true story? What personal facts do the jurors need to know to appreciate our client’s character and to know this is a worthy cause?
Listening, asking probing questions, visiting clients in their actual life setting, helps us get to know those who hired us to represent them in a court of law. Bringing in our curiosity as we take our “lawyer” hats off and just be “people” with them is important.
As we face a jury, it is so important for me to walk in with my client as my friend. A person whose story I know and whose story I need to help tell these folks who don’t know us and don’t know why they’ve been pulled out of their lives to serve in this capacity and evaluate what they see and hear. It brings me pride to be able to help make a difference. Brings meaning and purpose to advocate for the right cause.
Knowing the client’s story is the key and what brings meaning to being a true trial lawyer advocate.