Thursday, February 2, 2006

Tips for Opening Statements

[TIP] Since students are preparing opening statements, I visited a few of my favorite spots for trial tips to look for some good opening argument tips.

The Texas Young Lawyers Association and Texas Bar CLE have a series of 10-minute videos on different practical topics. Plug in your headphones and check out:

From Elliott Wilcox's Trial Theater, here's How Can I Tell More Powerful Opening Statements?. His advice? Focus on the story you're telling, not the facts, and make it more immediate by using the present tense.

From Evan Schaeffer's Illinois Trial Practice Weblog: Schaeffer recommended: The ABA Section of Litigation has: Method Acting for Lawyers (includes tips on how to calm yourself down, keep your voice normal, and appear calm). Note: this "Tips from the Trenches" feature changes regularly. In a few weeks, clicking on this link will get you a new article.

Framing a Worldview at Trial was originally in "Tips from the Trenches" (April 2005). So was The Opening Statement: Making an Impact on the Jury.

A law firm (Ungaretti & Harris) newsletter has Carpe Diem for Powerful Opening Argument.

Illinois Legal Advocate (training for legal aid lawyers) offers a sample opening statement in an eviction case.

All of the above are tips -- quick pieces to read for ideas about presentation. I also came across a scholarly article presenting empirical research:
Shelley C. Spiecker & Debra L. Worthington, The Influence of Opening Statement/Closing Argument Organizational Strategy on Juror Verdict and Damage Awards, 27 Law & Human Behavior 437 (2003).
That won't help you prepare your opening statements this week, but it might be interesting for those of you with a scientific bent.

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