Trial In Action

The Persuasive Power of Psychodrama

Joane Garcia-Colson, Fredilyn Sison & Mary Peckham
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  • Editorial Reviews (23)

If you've tried any cases, you understand that a trial is as much an art form as it is a test of facts. Psychodrama can help you better understand your clients, their backgrounds, and what shaped them before they came to you. It helps you to present the compelling story of your case through a better understanding of the parties', experts', and witnesses' motivations. It will also help you prepare your cases and direct them from intake to trial.

This book is a step-by-step manual that will help lawyers who are new to psychodrama learn the basic techniques, and will help more seasoned lawyers perfect their skills. The book begins with the history of psychodrama in law, then moves on to describe the specific tools and techniques that trial lawyers use. Each instructional chapter gives a "how to," followed by an example, and finishes with an exercise you can try at home. Finally, the book gives concrete examples of how you can use your newly found psychodrama tools and skills in all parts of a trial, from voir dire to closing.

Psychodrama is not for the faint of heart. It's a method for those lawyers ready to join the ranks of the best lawyers in the world.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Traditional Psychodrama Session
  3. The History of Psychodrama
  4. Prepare Yourself—Body, Mind, and Spirit
  5. The Three Most Valuable Psychodramatic Tools
  6. Exploring the Story Through Psychodramatic Reenactment
  7. Fundamentals of Storytelling
  8. Tell Your Client’s Story in the Opening Statement
  9. Tell Your Client’s Story Through Direct Examination
  10. Tell Your Client’s Story Through Cross-Examination
  11. Select the Jury and Form the Group
  12. Connect to the Universal Story in Closing
  13. Processing After a Psychodramatic Session and After Trial
  14. Appendix A: Certification in Psychodrama
  15. Appendix B: Opening
  16. Appendix C: Closing

Additional Information

Publisher Trial Guides, LLC
Hardcover 374 pages; 1st edition (2010); ISBN: 978-1934833193
Articles and Interviews

6/8/2011 — Trial In Action
Reviewed by Wilbur C. Smith, in The Colorado Lawyer (June 2011)

Trial in Action presents a unique twist on the trial lawyer’s art. The authors strongly believe that, as a trial lawyer, “your goal is to help your juries hear, see, and feel your client’s stories.” As a means to this end, they present the technique of legal “psychodrama,” in which the lawyer prepares for trial through dramatic role playing. Continued »

4/27/2011 — Listen to the authors of Trial In Action discuss the art of psychodrama and its application to the practice of law on the Legal Talk Network

4/26/2011 — Trial In Action
Reviewed by Alexander F. Ransom, in the Whatcom Country Bar (March)

Trial theory is fun. It’s interesting. From Reptile to Rules of the Road, numerous books written by experienced trial attorneys give perspective on how to successfully conduct jury trials. What persuades juries? What turns them off? Trial In Action: The Persuasive Power of Psychodrama is one of the newest books to broach the subject. In short, the authors explain how to use psychodrama in trial practice. Continued »

3/31/2011 — Trial In Action
Reviewed by Larry D. Lee, Esq. in Trial Talk®

Over twenty plus years in practice, I have read a lot of books about lawyering and trial practice, and after a while, they start to sound the same. The same recycled and regurgitated ideas, the same rules, the same strategies. But every now and then, a book comes along with new and revolutionary ideas that break the monotony of the traditional way of preparing and trying a case. Trial in Action: The Persuasive Power of Psychodrama is such a book. You’ve read Rick Friedman; you’ve read David Ball; you’ve read Gerry Spence. If you want to take the next step in your development as a trial lawyer, you owe it to yourself to read Trial in Action. Continued »

3/08/2011 — Trial In Action
Reviewed by Linda Friedman Ramirez in The Champion (January/February 2011)

Does knowing ourselves make any difference in whether we can persuade juries to empathize with our client? Does being authentic about how we feel have a role in our practice? Isn’t it our training to “act” as if we believe our client and his “version” of events? In a particularly horrendous case, aren’t we “masking” our true feelings? Continued »

Short Reviews
  1. Why should you care about psychodrama? Because it is the best way to know yourself, your client, and your case. If you want to tell your client’s story so judges and jurors see an authentic human being rather than a slick lawyer, this book is for you.
    —Paul N. Luvera, member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers

  2. If you’re a trial lawyer and don’t know about psychodrama, this is the book for you. Trial in Action makes concrete the forensic applications of psychodrama by bridging the gap between psychology and trial work. This is the book the practicing bar has been waiting for.
    —Bill Barton, fellow of the International Society of Barristers and author of Recovering for Psychological Injuries

  3. Great advances happen when creative people look at matters in previously unrecognized ways. With this long overdue work, the authors show trial attorneys how the courtroom looks through the prism of psychodrama. Your trial work will never be the same.
    —Carl Bettinger, Lawyers USA Lawyer of the Year, 2007, Adjunct Professor at University of New Mexico School of Law

  4. Trial in Action: The Persuasive Power of Psychodrama is a wonderful book that pulls together for the first time in one place a comprehensive analysis
 of the use of psychodrama in all aspects of trial practice. I am delighted to see a book that makes this topic accessible to a large audience. Not only
is the book clear and easy to understand but it is filled with many practical examples of how the psychodrama techniques can impact case
development, investigation, witness preparation, and all parts of the trial itself. Such a book is long overdue.

    —Barbara Bergman, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of New Mexico School of Law

  5. Superbly written, with heartfelt and compassionate prose, Trial in Action is your ticket to a powerful journey that has no end. Along the way, you’ll find yourself becoming the kind of trial lawyer you never dared to dream you could become.
    —Daniel R. Williams, professor at Northeastern University School of Law, author of Executing Justice

  6. This book is perfect for practitioners confronting the challenge of representing unpopular defendants in court.
    —Linda Friedman Ramirez, attorney and editor of Cultural Issues in Criminal Defense, 3rd edition

  7. The three authors have one foot in the world of psychodrama and one foot in the world of trial practice. This book is the perfect integration of the two, and invaluable to trial attorneys. It is an essential handbook for our office shelves.
    —Charles Abourezk, trial attorney, filmmaker, and author

  8. I am so impressed with this book! It takes what I’ve seen one of the authors do at training seminars and breaks it into easy steps. They’ve taken
 what we criminal defense lawyers do, and explained how to get to the true heart of the client and her case. Not only would I buy this book, I’d make
 it mandatory reading for trial practice students.
    —Tina Hunt, Senior Litigator, Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, faculty of the National Criminal Defense College

  9. This book makes psychodrama techniques accessible. It makes solid suggestions as to how and why psychodrama can expand trial presentations beyond the dry factual approach you learned in law school. Move juries and make your cases come alive!
    —Erica Michaels Hollander, JD and Ph.D. in Human Communication Studies

  10. Reading Trial in Action will encourage you to confront and refine everything you think you know about psychodrama. The book reminds us of a
truth we forget sometimes: the best lawyers are those who recognize that most jurors want trials to be about justice, not about determining
winners and losers. Trial in Action is a must read for both beginning law students and seasoned practitioners.
    —Holly Maguigan, Professor of Clinical Law at New York University, former president of the Society of American Law Schools

  11. As an academic and a trial consultant, I often reflect that law schools do precious little to teach how to prepare a case, much less how to prepare
oneself for courtroom work. Trial in Action will become the manual to which practicing lawyers will turn for a unifying vision of the action method of
case preparation and trial presentation.
    —Marjorie P. Russell, Professor of Law, Chair of the Litigation Skills Department, Thomas Cooley Law School

  12. Garcia-Colson, Sison, and Peckham intelligibly meld psychodrama and trial skills in an easily understandable book. As a pioneer in psychodramatic trial consulting, I highly recommend this book to lawyers and psychodramatists alike. J. L. Moreno would be pleased.
    —John Nolte, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and trial consultant

  13. Trial in Action explains psychodramatic techniques in a way that even a layperson could understand. Filled with practical advice and examples, it guides the novice and refreshes the skilled practitioner. Learn what you didn’t learn in law school—how to tell your client’s story in a compelling manner.
    —Leigh E. Johnson, certified specialist in family law, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Association of Certified Family Law Specialists

  14. If you want to become better at what you love doing, take a chance and read this book. It will revolutionize your life and practice.
    —Larry Lee, diplomat of the American College of Advocacy, and graduate of The Trial Lawyers College

  15. This is an amazing book! It explains both the theory of psychodrama and its practical application to trial lawyers in a
straightforward and easy to understand way. It is one of those rare books that the reader gains more insight and knowledge 
every time he or she peruses its pages. What a wonderful book for trial lawyers who care about their clients.
    —Lynne Bratcher, employment discrimination attorney, Bratcher Gockel & Kingston, Kansas City, Missouri

  16. Trial In Action is one of the best written books on psychodrama that has come to my attention.
    —Zerka Moreno, co-creator of psychodrama field of study

  17. This is a terrific new book that fully describes the use of psychodrama as a tool for trial lawyers. It is written by three brilliant lawyers who are also impressively skilled psychodramatists. They are also eloquent story tellers. They take you step by step through the process of using psychodrama to help discover the client’s story and communicate it to the jury. An important addition to library of any trial lawyer, it is also very valuable for psychodramatists and psychodrama students as it describes the method simply and elegantly.
    —HVPI Co-directors Rebecca Walters & Judy Swallow

  18. I first experienced psychodrama at Trial Lawyers College. It was transformational. But, understanding the power of the techniques and how to actually apply them to my work as a trial lawyer was a huge challenge for me. Then I read “Trial in Action” and all of the pieces came together. Trial in Action was like mortar holding together all the different parts of the psychodramatic techniques I’d learned. I can honestly say that Trial in Action was the single best investment in learning about psychodrama and how to actually use it to be a better trial lawyer that I’ve made. Without the fundamental guidance that is provided in this book, I might still be floundering about, wondering “how does this all fit together?” Now I truly understand, and am very grateful to Joane, Fredilyn and Mary for this wonderful contribution to our work as trial lawyers.
    —John R. Mittelman, Mittelman Law Firm

Customer Reviews