Witness Preparation: How To Tell The Winning Story

Jesse Wilson

37 Reviews
Format: Paperback
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“If you want ordinary results, don’t read this book. If you want to learn how to cast your client such that their compelling voice and spirit shines through, [so] that others root for them, protect them, and even fight for them, read this book now. This book will shift your thoughts about what the most compelling damages story is, and it gives you practical pointers to put these new ideas in action right away in your cases—for trial and even for pretrial settlement.”

—Joe Fried, co-founder of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys and trial attorney with $1 billion in recoveries

How do you see your witness? How will the jury see them? The judge? The defense? The more compelling—the more credible—your witnesses are, the more you increase your chances of obtaining a just outcome for your client.

In Witness Preparation: How to Tell the Winning Story, trial consultant and strategist Jesse Wilson teaches you how to prepare your clients, experts, and lay witnesses to deliver effective testimony during both deposition and trial. Wilson has spent years helping trial lawyers and their clients discover, develop, and deliver winning testimony in trial—often resulting in multimillion-dollar verdicts.

Wilson draws from his experiences working alongside trial teams in wrongful death cases, trucking cases, criminal cases, civil cases, and numerous brain injury cases to provide checklists, actionable steps you can immediately take, insightful case studies, trial transcripts, and more, to help you bring out the best testimony from your witnesses. He also introduces you to witness-preparation and case-framing tips from the trial lawyers across the country that he has worked with over the years.

Wilson shows you how to work with your witnesses to present the right story in trial and deposition, one that inspires jurors to action through effective testimony that helps them understand the harms your client has suffered. Throughout the book, Wilson uses what he refers to as the “victim to victor” approach to empower your clients, improve your damages arguments, and present the truth of the consequences your clients are living with—and fighting to overcome—to galvanize jurors to action.

Wilson explains that clients are often mischaracterized when they are solely framed in terms of what was taken from them. When your trial story only focuses on the pain, you risk diminishing your client or making jurors feel manipulated. But a trial story that is framed around joy in the defiance of pain—and the strength it takes to strive to overcome the harm the defendant caused—empowers jurors to act. Referencing the work of Moe Levine, Wilson quotes that “it’s not what they took, it’s what they left behind.” The victim to victor approach focuses on showing that what they left behind is the strength of overcoming what has been taken. When it comes to the witness, this should be the lawyer’s primary focus.

Wilson argues (and has the record to prove it) that jurors care more when they see fighters up there on the stand. Somebody they can get behind and help, long after the trial is over. When lawyers go with the tactic of “the poor client, their life is ruined, give them money” jurors end up feeling manipulated. Wilson shows that you shouldn’t care about that story. If you show the fight in your clients, their fight becomes the jurors’ fight.

Wilson teaches how you can develop and deliver a great story of systematic, willful misconduct, a story of serious life-altering injuries, and a story of hope, redemption, and joy. And in the courtroom, Wilson points out that joy is impossible to defend against. As he puts it, “Imagine the defense attorney saying to the judge, ‘Your honor! Mr. Smith is inspiring the jurors too much!’ Or better yet, ‘Your honor! Mr. Smith is allowing his client to inspire the jurors too much!’ That would be a gift, wouldn’t it?”

In this book, you’ll learn a new focus and new action pattern; you’ll be able to frame your case and present your client’s story (and your villain’s story as you’ll learn about in the chapter on preparing for adverse witnesses) in the right way.

Wilson also demonstrates how the victor story can be used to show the defense for who they most often are: the person (or company) who knows the most and cares the least. He provides tools to show the jury how the person (or company) who had the most power to prevent the harm from happening didn’t care in the least that it actually happened.

Later in the book, Wilson also discusses how you can guide your expert witness to give their testimony in the form of a story that the listener feels connected to. Your expert needs to draw the listener into that story. Wilson shows you how you can act as a director and help your expert craft a presentation in a way that engages your judge and jurors so that the information the expert gives them will be embraced and internalized.

Most witnesses are rarely certain of who they need to be, for depositions, for pretrial, and for trial. Learn to reveal them as what they really are, and need to be, for the jury: the victor. In this book, you will learn to apply the victim-to-victor approach to framing and presenting the right story to your jurors, as you prepare both your client (and yourself) for trial. The lessons and methods in this book that Wilson offers will grant you transformative tools that you can start using—today—that will improve your practice, empower your juries, and help your clients.

Your eBooks are now accessible from your Trial Guides account! Click here for step by step instructions.

Do you want the eBook and print book? After you complete your purchase of the print book you will receive a coupon code via email to purchase the eBook for $20.

Paperback: 266 pages; 1st edition (2022); ISBN: 978-1-951962-48-7
Publisher: Trial Guides, LLC

Publisher’s Note. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xv

Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xvii

Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxv

Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxvii

1. When Does the Lawyer Need to Die?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

2. No Separation: Become the Ball. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

3. Victim To Victor: Your Witness’s Role . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55

4. Victim to Victor: Stories of Joy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85

5. Adverse Witness Preparation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

6. Preparing the Expert Witness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

7. Transforming The Focus Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171

8. Tell The Story You Have to Tell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

Final Thoughts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .217

About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .221

What Legal Leaders Are Saying

I am a trial attorney with over forty-five years in the courtroom. Jesse Wilson caused me to rethink my trial strategies. This book pushes the reader to think outside of the box—to focus on the positive side of your client; to highlight his or her post-accident victories rather than defeats; to humanize your client—the VICTOR’S STORY. Jesse directs your focus to finding the story and framing it correctly to help you do your best to help your client—the real win for all. He uses concrete examples in explaining his theories; this makes the book highly readable and easily translatable for your specific case.

— Patt Ardis, effected the recovery of more than $140,000,000 in the areas of fraud and negligence, coauthor of Risk Management: Computers, Fraud, and Insurance and Bad Lies in Business

 

4.9
4.9 star rating
Based on 37 reviews
4.9 out of 5 stars Based on 37 reviews
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Allen T.
Verified Reviewer
5 star rating
Stop Selling Witness Prep Short!
Witness preparation may be the most important part of what we do as trial lawyers. Jesse has found a way to masterfully explain the process and teach us how to have our clients morph from the victim to the victor.
05/10/24
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Arthur F.
Verified Buyer
5 star rating
Jesse's book is outstanding, greatly
Jesse's book is outstanding, greatly assisting counsel to ferret out the client's REAL story. The book is only surpassed by Jesse's live, in-person work!
04/30/24
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Charlie M.
Verified Reviewer
5 star rating
Great teaching tool
It's one thing to hear Jesse coaching, but it so much more to have this teaching tool that is now dog-eared and highlighted. Reading his book, I can hear Jesse in my head. "Don't give it away so cheaply"..."I wish I could tell you..., but I can't"...
04/18/24
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Keenan N.
Verified Reviewer
5 star rating
Game Changer!
Jesse Wilson literally gave me a legal lobotomy in 221 pages, and transformed the way I think about trying cases for catastrophically injured clients after nearly 30 years of practicing law at a very high level. Simply put, I've enjoyed some amazing results
04/04/24
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Judy L.
Verified Reviewer
5 star rating
Witness Preparation: How to Tell the Winning Story
More than a guide for lawyers, How to Tell the Winning Story is essential reading. Jesse Wilson brilliantly takes the lessons from acting and reshapes them for the trial lawyer. He does not teach us how to act, and nothing that is contained in the pages
02/26/24
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