Throw these phrases out with the trash

  Photo:  Dan'l Bridges giving the defense opening statement at the Advanced Trial Advocacy Program at Seattle U Law School today.  Hon. Judge John Chun presiding.

Photo:  Dan'l Bridges giving the defense opening statement at the Advanced Trial Advocacy Program at Seattle U Law School today.  Hon. Judge John Chun presiding.

We lawyers are trained to be precise.  Everything we say has to be supported.  If we're laying out facts to a judge - we need to cite to the source every single time.   This breeds a habit of presentation that can be overly meticulous and filled with legalese.  It can be a hard habit to break.

In trial, a good way to doom an opening statement, is to recite lists of data.  We know that people learn more easily through story telling.  So we set out to tell a story.  But before long, we find ourselves lapsing into our data based ways.

The following phrases are loved by lawyers.  They are not loved by real people.  They are space fillers.  They are time wasters.  They interrupt the flow of a story.  They are triggers for the lawyer to spew data.  These phrases add nothing to an opening statement.  They need to be retired:

  • The evidence will show
  • The witness will testify that
  • You will hear from