Watching opening statement in a trial this morning, I was reminded of the last time I prepared an opening a few months ago. As I was rehearsing it for my partner, Andrea Lamere, she continually interrupted me to say, “Make it simpler.” Once, though I was able to simplify the sentence, she stopped me again to repeat her admonition and then did it two more times.
Each time I found a way to state my thought more simply. I also recall growing very exasperated about the way my legal education was getting in the way of communicating like a regular person. Or, that is, talking like the guy next door.
I’ve posted about using simple speech at trial before, for example, here and here. At the trial this morning, I was able to understand some of the jargon that was being tossed around only because I was already very familiar with it. I have no idea what the jury must have been thinking. I’m not one to cast stones at trial attorneys when I’m sitting on the bench, but I did stop listening for a moment to write a big reminder to myself: “Keep it simple.”