Judson Vaughn

Who I Am


Though Judson’s education and initial professional experience was as a psychological and sociological researcher in the field of gerontology, in the late 70’s he moved to Hollywood, became a character actor (IMDB page) and shared the screen with some the most successful actors in film and television including: Gabriel Byrne, Jim Carrey, Harry Connick, Jr., Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Keith Carradine, David Duchovny, Faye Dunaway, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, E.G. Marshall, Steve Martin, Mary Tyler Moore, Carroll O’Connor, Brad Pitt, Blair Underwood, and Sam Waterston, and he worked with admired and legendary directors such as John Frankenheimer, Alan J. Pakula, Joseph Sargent, and Peter Weir.


In the early 90’s Judson moved to Atlanta and in 1993 opened a film development and production company called WHAT Films: http://www.clatl.com/news/article/13007691/what-the-heck. In 1997, three feature films came out of WHAT’s development process, Nagesh Kukunoor’s Hyderabad Blues, Ben Taylor’s In the Flesh, and Judson’s The Real Reason: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0160744/?ref_=fn_al_tt_4  http://www.nytimes.com/1998/06/17/arts/tv-notes-wrestler-s-other-side.html?_r=0

Everyone who worked or studied at WHAT learned a precise, objective system of persuasion that Judson had developed for himself (as an actor) when he was in Los Angeles.  That system of emotional and intellectual persuasion was the antithesis of what actor’s around the globe are taught. 

Actors are taught that in order to get audiences to feel real and powerful emotions, the actor must conjure up real and powerful emotions during his or her performance.  Sounds like that would work, huh?

The problem is… it doesn’t work.  There is no science behind it.  Just because you feel certain emotions does not mean that those around you will feel reciprocal emotions, and the same goes for actors and audiences. 

Judson’s system is not based on creating emotions within himself, but rather on the him doing things with his body and speech to make others feel the exact emotions he wants them to feel.  When Judson started developing this system back in 1979, the neuroscientific research that details why his system worked didn’t exist.  But today that scientific evidence does exist and within our courses, with every communication skill we teach, we buttress our discoveries with neuroscientific studies that show exactly why the skills we teach are so effective.

From the Film Set to the Courtroom

Lawyers and clients frequently ask Judson how a character actor and filmmaker moved into the legal world.  Here’s the short (well, sort of short) story.

Between 1993 and 2002, thousands of people studied at WHAT Films and learned Judson’s system of communication, which he eventually came to call CommuniKata.(1)  During those years the system became more expansive, more precise, and more detailed.  Essentially, for over ten years, WHAT Films became a laboratory for developing and refining what many of our clients believe is the most comprehensive system of emotional and intellectual communication ever created.

The communication skills that are at the foundation of CommuniKata are the Six Elements of Instinctual Trust

Yes, since 1993 we have been teaching people exactly what they need to do in order to secure the most valuable element in any business or personal relationship, TRUST.  And we’ve been teaching people the science behind why the skills we teach will enable anyone to secure trust from a stranger – within seconds.

Lots of people take acting classes who have no desire to become professional actors, but rather, join an acting class just for fun, to meet people, or in some cases to become more confident speaking to a group and making presentations.  So there were people from every imaginable professional field who studied at WHAT: salespeople, teachers, engineers, electricians, doctors, nurses, dentists, business owners, dancers, singers, managers and C-Level execs, life coaches, engineers, and yes, lawyers… and even one postman.  Many of these people started telling Judson that they used these skills (that he had created for actors) every day in all aspects of their professions and personal lives.  And Judson began to realize that he was using the skills in his romantic life and his friendships.  So he began to believe that the system of communication he’d created had practical value far beyond the film industry.  After all, the skills he’d been teaching were simply communication and relationship skills, and in what profession are effective communication and relationship skills not vital?

So Judson put his researcher’s hat back on.  If CommuniKata was to prove to be extremely valuable, it needed to be subjected to an extremely difficult test.

In 2002 Judson made the decision to close WHAT Films and take CommuniKata to another profession.  But not every profession would truly test – in the most demanding ways possible, how sound the concepts and skills within CommuniKata were.  The professional group that would provide the most intensive test had to be one in which analytical, critical, captious, cavil (and yes cynical) thinking were important ingredients for success within that profession.  And for the most onerous test of the communication skills within CommuniKata, those professionals should be be working in a cutthroat, competitive environment where emotional and intellectual stress is almost always present, and lives and fortunes of individuals and companies are on the line… lawyers – trial lawyers and their clients and witnesses.

Judson reasoned that if litigators were willing to believe that CommuniKata skills could make them more trustworthy and more effective communicators, and if he could prove to them – beyond a doubt, that learning CommuniKata skills would make their clients and witnesses more trustworthy and more effective witnesses, then eventually he could confidently take CommuniKata to any other professional group within any profession or industry.

Judson decided that his initial sales call should be at one of the oldest and largest law firms in the United States.  He chose a firm that was founded in 1885 and had over 800 lawyers, an international firm based in Atlanta called King & Spalding.

In March of 2003, Judson and his wife Kate sat down with a lawyer (a magna cum laude at Harvard), who was King & Spalding’s head of professional development.  About forty minutes into that meeting, the lawyer said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.  There isn’t anything like this.  I’m going to get you in here.  It’s going to take quite a while.”

It didn’t.

A month later, Kate and Judson were conducting their first CLE for a group of Labor and Employment lawyers in K&S’s Atlanta office.  At the conclusion of that CLE a senior partner came up and asked Kate and Judson if they’d be willing to speak for a couple of hours at a litigation conference he was conducting in Hilton Head.  We learned that this lawyer was one of the top L&E trial lawyers in the country.  We spoke in Hilton Head, and following that we were on our way.

A few months later we were hired to prepare a client in a complex commercial litigation case with $87,000.00 on the line.  Gulp… and since then JurisPerfect has stayed busy with trial work and conducting CLE’s from coast to coast, south to north.  We’ll always be grateful to those two lawyers at King & Spalding who were the first to believe that we had things to teach lawyers and their clients that were (and are) truly valuable.

(1) [Communi – because (obviously) these are (numerous specific) communication skills, and Kata as in the exercise of specific movements within certain martial arts.  Like martial arts skills, people learn one CommuniKata skill at a time then add more and more as they continue to become better and more captivating, compelling and persuasive communicators.]