The sixth chapter of David Ball on Damages is titled “Opening Statement.” Here are Ball’s five tips to keep jurors listening, which require “overcoming five bad habits from law school”—
- Do not use too many words to make each point.
- Do not repeat obvious information. You need to say a date only once; after that, you can say “that night.”
- Do not use the passive voice. The passive voice sounds like legalese. Don’t say “the car was hit by the truck,” but “the truck hit the car.”
- Do not give speeches. Aim for informality. Speeches went out early in the last century.
- Never be satisfied with semi-clarity in place of crystal clarity. Your goal: to make every juror understand you the first time you make a point.
Ball’s book is a favorite among plaintiff’s lawyers. You can find it at Amazon.com.
Related post: "For Plaintiffs' Lawyers: A Reminder About Damages from David Ball."