Number 4 of 20 for 20 – Rehearsing Barriers

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We have published essays about the value of rehearsing for the courtroom (EXPERT), knowing that there exists a multitude of attorney styles and opinions about the practice. “I never rehearse,” is not usually a good strategy, but is one employed by many trial attorneys. They ride the rush of adrenaline and do pretty well. Similar to advice about creating visuals or demonstration, “never let the jury see something you haven’t already seen,” so too is the warning, “never tell your client’s story or introduce your case themes for the first time in front of the jury.”

“Pure exhaustion” “Too many things to do” “Not sure what to say” “Haven’t outlined the main points yet” “Things keep changing, our adversaries are playing games” These are the barriers we hear and see the most. And they’re real. Here are some techniques that work to overcome them.

“Pure exhaustion.”

    • Delegate the initial draft to an eager colleague. Then just read it aloud. Your voice will emerge.
    • Or set a timer and just start writing. Delegate the editing to a trusted colleague.


“Too many things to do.”

    • Carve out uninterruptible space and time – to escape the list. Start a timer (or an hour glass) and write continuously while unplugged. Hit record and speak your main points while voice transcription software types out what you say.
    • Use the time in the shower or car, to speak aloud, as if it’s the real thing.


“Not sure what to say.”

    • Even if you are awaiting rulings that will affect what you are able to say, write it out with one scenario, then another. Read both aloud.


“Haven’t outlined the main points yet.”

    • Sit with a colleague, and pretend that person is a cousin you haven’t seen in a long time. She asks, what you are working on. Tell her, and have the colleague take notes and/or give reactions to your description. Now you have a solid start on the outline.
    • Or hit record and pretend that person is a teenager interested in your case. Explain to her exactly what your setting out to do, without worrying about the evidence or all that you feel you still need to learn. Transcribe the recording and see if the evidence is there to fill in.


“Things keep changing.”

    • Start where you are. It will be productive to edit an outdated script. Start with something, make it better with attention and diligence and a little teamwork.


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