NITA Experts Agree: Jurors Want Lawyers to Show, Not Tell
by Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
We have written many times about the fact that scientific studies have shown that nonlawyers (who are the vast majority of jurors) tend to be visual learners, and tend not to be auditory learners or kinesthetic learners –people who learn by experiencing. Lawyers (who are the ones who present facts and tell stories to jurors) tend not to be visual learners and are often drawn from the ranks of auditory or kinesthetic learners.
Of course, this can present an intrinsic problem that we have discussed before. If most lawyers like to tell but not show, and our audience, the jury, prefers to be shown something and not to be told, we may completely fail to connect with our audience.
It’s not just psychologists and other students of human behavior who say so; it’s also people who devote full time to understanding trial advocacy. The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) is a fantastic organization that represents the “gold standard” of trial advocacy. In addition to putting on outstanding CLE programs for newbie and experienced litigators, NITA also publishes many great books from scholars who have thought long and hard about advocacy.
In a famous NITA publication, Modern Trial Advocacy, author Steven Lubet connects the obvious aspects of our daily lives with what we should be doing in the courtroom. He writes: “We are used to receiving our visual information from a screen . . . Why would any trial lawyer not want to provide jurors with the same graphic quality and medium that they experience in most other aspects of their lives?” Flip charts are fine, but carefully crafted litigation graphics might be better.