I spent part of today on Zoom (of course) helping some University of Texas Law students tell their stories.
Why, you may ask.
Because stories are our currency. Stories are how we help convey what happened to harm our clients or how our clients are hurt. Stories help us convey the pain or the limitations that our clients experience and feel. Stories help us make connections with the jury about universal truths, values and justice.
In short, great trial lawyers are great story tellers.
And it’s a skill that most of us have to work on. I’m constantly reading books an articles about trial advocacy or persuasion or communication. And many of those books are about how to tell a story. It’s not easy. I’m reminded of an article by Alabama lawyer Stephen Heninger from several years ago when he wrote:
Reciting stories makes them nothing more than words that have been reduced to cookie-cutter products. Telling stories is different. The words, messages and feelings are mixed in with the pace, expression and style of the story.
I’ve tried to work at it. I’ve dog-eared and worn out my copies of Jim Perdue’s WINNING WITH STORIES, and I’ve worn out other articles to help me tell our clients’ stories.
But we can’t do it without your help. We can only tell the stories we know. Clients have to be honest with us. They have to be willing to spend time with us. And they have to be willing to share with us. Only that way, can we get to know them and their true stories, which deserve to be told.
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