Discovering Your Courtroom Impact

You slide your chair away from the table, rise and approach. You can’t help but watch yourself, hear your footsteps and feel the hairs on the back of your neck.

What are your opening words? Where is your opening focus? What is the impact you’ve already made?

Litigators know the power of their presence and courtroom performance. It’s one thing to have their case strategy laid out. It’s quite another to deliver the effect they’re after, create a connection with the jurors and judge and relate without going over the top. And clients want them to be confident as well.

Where do you turn to determine the impact you’re making?

On the one hand, you need to go with your gut. On the other, you need to get feedback on those things you aren’t paying attention to or don’t even know about.

How is your pacing, your language, your tone? Are your gestures working for or against you? Are you paying attention to yourself or to those around you? Bottom line is, jurors want to like you, believe you, trust you.

How do you create the performance that seems real and still pay attention to your client and your strategy? Some lawyers rely on their own understanding and awareness of themselves. The difficulty with this is their vision is hugely tempered by what they like and what they know. When it comes to self-assessment, we all need guidance in seeing the bigger picture – in what others see and we have been blinded by.

Most lawyers rely on the feedback of other lawyers who mentor them or who are in their close circle. This is again a huge roadblock. Lawyers respond to life and the world around them in ways unique from the general public. They are thinkers vs. feelers, introverts vs. extroverts, intuitors vs. sensors and judgers vs. perceivers. Although the latter distinction (judger) is true of most of us, the other distinctions leave lawyers relying on a different set of indicators to assess themselves and attorneys around them.

If jurors were all lawyers, this way of understanding their courtroom impact would be solid. But it isn’t the case. Jurors are made up of those people who think differently about courtroom presence and performance. The fact that jurors are commonly sensors and feelers means litigators would do well to turn to nonlawyers for feedback on how they come across in the courtroom.

By the way, I am a feeler, a sensor, a judger and an introvert. I can relate to the introvert needs and concerns, can understand as a judger does yet can add the soft skill and people dynamics information a trial attorney is missing.

Discover your courtroom impact.

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On July 19th, 2011, posted in: impact, litigator, performance, presence by