Recently, I witnessed a few seasoned trial lawyers lose sight of what I believe is a key concept in the courtroom; that is, the likeability factor. This blog is not born out by experimental studies, but rather my observations over the course of my career, and interviews with jurors after trials about factors they found important in reaching their verdicts. Human nature informs us that if there are two equally qualified witnesses, a jury may find the likeable witness more credible. This holds true for both lay and expert witnesses. This concept enters into my preparation for all witnesses for trials, hearings and depositions. The goal is for the jury to like your witnesses, find them credible, and give you what you want, i.e. a favorable verdict. Do not underestimate the power of professionalism, respect, and yes, likeability with all those you encounter in court, whether it be the tip staff in navigating the courtroom, the judge in his rulings, or the jury in their verdict. In the past few months I have seen lawyers lose sight of this basic concept, to their detriment. For example, a partner from a prominent law firm insisted on talking down to and demeaning his associate in front of the jury and it did not play well for his case. Also, a lawyer was recently admonished for arguing directly with opposing counsel rather than properly directing her comments to the court. Given that this simple concept may effect the outcome of your case, there is no excuse for not being mindful of it when selecting and preparing your witnesses for court.
- How-to guide How-to guide: How to navigate challenges relating to Source of Wealth and Source of Funds (UK)
- Checklist Checklist: Conducting a competition compliance audit (UK)
- How-to guide How-to guide: How to develop, implement and maintain a US information and data security compliance program (USA)