Advanced Strategy and Practice – Opening Guidelines

There is no “template” that can be used in every case, no matter how similar the cases may appear on the surface. There are however some guidelines:

1. Connect with jurors using eye contact and gesture.

2. Avoid technical, legal, or medical terms.

3. Focus on the conduct of the defendant.

4. Let the facts do the work, don’t advocate or argue.

5. Use rhetorical questions* and rules.

6. Address the defenses the jury will hear.

7. Marginalize defense experts who will be persuasive.

8. Tell a real story (stories are about people and action).

9. Concede mistakes/flaws in your case.

10. Talk about damages and tell them how much.

11. Use exhibits for key points/takeaways.

12. Don’t attack the defendant, this is Aikido not MMA.

13. Test and refine your opening pre-trial with mock jurors.

14. Be unfailingly polite to everyone in the court room and courthouse, all of the time.

*If you test your rhetoricals in advance of trial, you may have insights on how jurors will respond, and a useful trial advantage.

Caveats (there are many). Call me for help/suggestions.

Review our Trial Consulting Services including Deposition and Case Strategy Planning, Juror Surveys, Focus Groups, Mock Trials and Pricing.