Becoming a Teiwaz Lawyer with Rick Friedman

Reviewed by Jamie Cogburn

Originally published in the July/August 2021 edition of The Advocate, a publication from the Nevada Justice Association 

Recently I read "The Way of the Trial Lawyer" by Rick Friedman. Rick is one of the best trial lawyers in the nation, so I don’t need to recite his resume in this article, not to mention it would take up at least 20 pages. Rick’s new book takes a new approach to handling a plaintiff’s case, and it was truly enlightening and earth shattering to our mission as plaintiffs’ lawyers. In his book, Rick explains three types of persuasions: Logos, Pathos and Ethos.

Logos is logic. The rational, logical arguments we learned in law school.

Pathos means experience. Essentially it is an appeal to thoughts and emotions. There are many articles, books and classes discussing how to appeal to the emotions, thoughts and beliefs of jurors.

Ethos means moral or showing moral character. We’ve all been told the importance of our credibility, speaking with truthfulness, politeness and preparation, but that is about all we learn when it comes to Ethos and conducting a trial.

Rick has taken it upon himself to cultivate Ethos in all of us with his new book. He points out that you can be successful without Ethos, but once you cultivate Ethos you become an invincible lawyer. Rick’s good friend, and whom he considers the best criminal defense lawyer, Jim McComas, summed up Ethos best—“The sincerity of a true heart is the only requirement of effective advocacy. No one wants to know that, because a true heart is much harder to acquire than a few advocacy techniques.” A true heart is Ethos. A lawyer who has Ethos is what Rick calls a “Teiwaz Lawyer” and the Teiwaz Lawyer is in all of us.

We have all attended seminars or read books to improve our skills as lawyers, which helps us present our cases for our clients. This book does the same by helping us cultivate our inner spirit to become a Teiwaz Lawyer. I will highlight  some of the areas Rick covers in his book, but this book should be part of any plaintiff lawyer’s educational foundation. What is even better about this book is the methods can’t become outdated as a Teiwaz Lawyer always practices
from the heart.

All of us have the ability to be a Teiwaz Lawyer, and like anything else we must cultivate our skills. Before you can cultivate or enhance your skills as a Teiwaz Lawyer, you must first understand what it means. The reality is Rick made up the word Teiwaz (pronounced “Tee-waz”), as he needed a word to help the book flow smoothly, so this is what he came up with. Simply put, a Teiwaz Lawyer is someone who practices from the heart and truly cares. We have all had the case or client we were emotionally invested in, and nothing could stop us from getting justice for them. In fact, if you look back on how you handled that case compared to ones where you did not have an emotional connection, you will notice you did a better job when you had a connection to the case and client. There is one main reason for that— your heart was in it. You stood on the moral high ground and gave everything you had to give for that client. That is a Teiwaz Lawyer.

As plaintiff lawyers, we are always fighting an uphill battle. We always have less money and resources than the other side. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics issued a report on Civil Justice in America. It was scary. According to the report, plaintiffs “won” 51% of tort trials. However, even a $1 verdict counted as a win. The median verdict was $24,000. The median award in auto cases was $15,000. We can all agree that receiving a $24,000 or $15,000 verdict after everything you must do to put on a trial is not really considered a “win.” Based upon these numbers, it is estimated that 85% of these verdicts could reasonably be considered a loss. Knowing those statistics, you may ask – why do we do this? Simple, our moral values guide us to do what is right.

The insurance companies and corporate America look at everything based upon their values, which at the end of the day, is economic. Every single decision made by a corporation is based upon how it will affect the bottom line. As Teiwaz Lawyers, we know we must operate in this corporate world, but not let it control us. We all have to make money and want to live a great life, but we can do that and, at the same time, make a difference in this world based upon our values. Teiwaz Lawyers understand it is their job to appeal to a different set of values and understand that a jury is made up of people who have similar values. How can you cultivate the Teiwaz Lawyer within yourself? Rick walks you through the steps and persuasions to find the Teiwaz Lawyer within yourself, but he also provides guidance on how to cultivate these virtues within yourself. As with anything, you have to practice it on a daily basis. You can’t mail it in for one case and then think you can just step it up for the big case. You must practice like you want to play. It is your job to make the jury appreciate the things we value as people: family, pleasure, joy, human dignity, integrity, beauty, human connection, courage, compassion and love. This means we have to work on the values in ourselves that can bring these things to life for our client.

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome as a Teiwaz Lawyer is fear. You may feel you are not good enough to take a case to trial, you don’t have confidence in your trial skills, or you fear embarrassment if you lose at trial. All of these fears are understandable and rational. The truth is you must learn to be comfortable with the paradox of being scared, but know what we are fighting for is extremely important. If you lead with your heart, the jury will see that and do what is right. Sometimes, you just have to have faith. You may get the feeling that Rick’s new book is a hippie style to practicing law. It is far from it. The book does make you tackle your own emotions, but it also helps you fight for your client using all the advocacy skills you already have. Rick’s book gives you practical examples on a variety of cases and how to use your skills to zealously advocate for your client in each of those cases. Rick walks through real life examples including: a wrongful death case, a low visible property damage with soft tissue injury, a client with a conviction and other types of real-world case scenarios. The book goes over every aspect of a case from intake meetings with clients, to the psychology of the jury, voir dire, opening, direct exam, closing and everything in between. One of the best tips I found was how to harness the moral energy in the courtroom. Rick teaches you that Teiwaz Lawyers must find moral values that (1) resonate within them, (2) support their case, and (3) are shared with the jurors.

Growth is a key to success and Rick’s book, "The Way of the Trial Lawyer", will help anyone grow. This book helps you take what you already have within you and fine tune it, so you can become a Teiwaz Lawyer and ultimately get your client full and fair justice. This book is a must-read for any lawyer who wants to embrace their inner Teiwaz Lawyer.

The Way of the Trial Lawyer by Rick Friedman