Trials and Litigation
What Susan Boyle Can Teach Trial Lawyers
Posted Apr 23, 2009 8:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Trial lawyers can learn a few things from Susan Boyle, the dowdy-looking, unemployed woman who surprised judges on Britain’s Got Talent with her angelic singing voice.
The lesson is about expectations, blogger Eric Turkewitz writes at his New York Personal Injury Lawyer Blog. Boyle’s success story can be attributed to low expectations, he writes. A beautiful blonde with a great voice would not have become an international human interest story.
“And of course that isn't fair,” he says. “But people judge others on appearances all the time, and that doesn't change when we become jurors.”
The lesson for lawyers, he says, is to raise expectations for the other side’s witnesses and to lower them for your own. For example, a plaintiffs lawyer in a medical malpractice case should tell jurors in voir dire and opening statements that they will like the doctor who is being sued. With such high expectations, jurors will be more critical of any slip-up or contradictory testimony.
At the same time, Turkewitz advises, tell jurors your client doesn’t have the same education or speaking experience as the defendant—and shouldn’t be judged based on looks or awkwardness.