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Essential Client and Witness Prep: Doubles Tennis

Agreeing to accept a new client is like agreeing to play doubles tennis with someone you don’t know.

You arrive at your tennis club hoping to get a pick-up-game and luckily, three guys are obviously looking for a third.  One turns and says, “Hey, wanna’ join us?”  You’ve been watching this guy serve and he’s really good.

“Absolutely.”  He tosses you two balls, you get set, smash a serve and charge the net, but your partner moves right in front of you – you crash and both tumble into the net.  Very quickly you realize that this guy knows nothing about doubles tennis and appears unwilling to expend any energy running down balls.  All he wants to do is serve and delegate the rest to you.  Needless to say, you lose.  And who does your partner blame after the match? 

If you’re a seasoned trial lawyer, you’ve had this experience.  During the initial interview this potential client was good at authoritatively serving up a powerful narrative that made him look like a good doubles-partner.  But before long you begin to get the feeling that he’s not going to be, and weeks, months or years later he crashes and burns during his deposition.

Since 2003, I’ve been preparing witnesses and clients to testify in depositions, trials and arbitrations and without a doubt the hardest aspect of what I do is triage and stitching things up when a lawyer engages me after his client has crashed (both of them) during a deposition.

And this is why I’ve I taken all I’ve learned about preparing people for depositions, and created this workbook – to help clients, but also to help lawyers.

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Sarcasm: A Trial Advocacy Skill Lawyers Really Need…….. NOT!

I grew up in south Alabama.
trial-advocacy_map

I mean, SOUTH ALABAMA.  I thought anybody who lived north of Montgomery was a Yankee.

But I heard my first sarcasm from a genuine Yankee when I was ten years old.

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The Handshake of Trust

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As a client and/or witness in a legal dispute you will naturally be shaking hands with the people you greet during the process. This is often the very first chance you have to establish trust with the person you are greeting (either your own lawyer, or a stranger), as well as establishing instinctual trust with everyone who can see you shaking hands. If you do this right, observers will instinctually think that you are more trustworthy than someone you shakes hands “at arms length.” 
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First Impressions Start with Your Face

DOMINANT FACEYour Dominant Face is the face you wear when you don’t think you are communicating with anyone.

[Our use of the term “dominant,” relates to its definition “predominant,” rather than the “controlling or exerting authority,” definition.  Your Dominant Face is the facial expression that you “wear” more than any other when you are not communicating with others.]
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