The Best Trial Story Wins
Many successful trial lawyers will tell you that those who tell the best story win. Stories hold power. They make case facts memorable and drive jurors to fight for your client during deliberations. A good trial lawyer is a master storyteller. In Courtroom Storytelling, author Jim Perdue teaches you how to become exactly that.
Lessons from a Master Trial Lawyer
Jim Perdue spent over forty years persuading juries to find justice for his clients. He won record- and precedent-setting verdicts, pioneered techniques that are now standard practice among the plaintiff’s bar, and has mentored hundreds of aspiring trial attorneys. In Courtroom Storytelling, Perdue takes many of the concepts he first introduced in his previous books, such as Winning with Stories, and develops them into a polished series of lessons and exercises that you can begin using to immediately improve your next case.
Across twenty-five chapters of practical examples and winning techniques, Perdue guides you through the range of auto, trucking, product liability, nursing home, birth injury, and medical malpractice cases he used to develop and prove his strategies for effectively telling a winning story in court. Perdue breaks his cases down and walks you through each part of trial, jury selection through closing argument, and shows how to deliver an effective case that will stick in the hearts and minds of your jury.
Stories from the Courtroom
Perdue begins with a brief tale of how he began his career as a plaintiff’s lawyer and then dives right into the meat of the book with detailed examinations of what worked and why as he sets out to show you how any lawyer with a just cause and the willingness to “charge hell with a bucket of ice water” can take his methods and apply them to their own practice and win. Offering examples drawn from past opening and closing statements, as well as direct and cross-examinations, Perdue shows how different storytelling techniques strengthen your case and inspire jurors.
Essential Elements for Persuading a Jury
Perdue then moves beyond a nuts and bolts analysis of lessons from past cases to exercises that demonstrate how both new and experienced trial lawyers can improve their ability to present their cases. He discusses how different kinds of evidence often do (and don’t) work in a courtroom and how to adapt them to your trial story. Perdue also provides guidance on word choice, matching the language and analogies you use to the venue of your case, developing an effective speaking voice, the importance of nonverbal communication, and a framework for how to build a powerful trial story that is centered on how your jurors will experience the case.
Don’t let the defense beat you in the battle of impressions before the jury. Learn from a master trial attorney, whom Rick Friedman calls “one of the greatest trial lawyers of our time,” and discover hard-earned lessons, successful trial tactics, and insightful observations about what actually moves a jury to act and deliver justice.
Part One: Home Is Where the Story Begins
1. The Values We Learn as Children
2. We Are What We Are
Part Two: Stories from Life and the Courtroom
3. Product Liability Case
4. Negligence in Providing Safe Working Conditions
5. Workers’ Compensation Wrongful Death
6. Medical Malpractice in a Rural Hospital
7. Trials Can be Fun
8. Medical Device Product Liability
9. Losses and Appeals
10. Nursing Errors
11. Getting to the Deep Pocket
12. Opening Statements
13. Trucking Wrongful Death
14. Birth Injury
15. Breast Cancer Misdiagnosis
16. Anesthesia Malpractice
Part Three: Essentials of Storytelling for the Classroom
17. My Epiphanies
18. Constructing Your Trial Story
19. Dramatic Techniques for Storytelling
20. Developing Your Speaking Voice
21. Developing Your Nonverbal Communication
22. Words and Word Choice
23. How Jurors Think
25. Closing Argument
About the Author
What Legal Leaders Are Saying
— Rick Friedman, coauthor of Rules of the Road and past president of the Inner Circle of Advocates
“With this book, Jim Perdue gives the reader the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of a giant and benefit from a lifetime of trial experience. Reading this book is like sitting on the front porch and discussing trial tactics with one of the greatest trial lawyers of our time. Hard-earned trial lessons are conveyed with a mix of legal history, entertaining case examples, and shrewd observations about what it is that actually persuades a jury. In this book, you will see not only the mind but the heart that goes into the making of a great trial lawyer.”