Twas the night before the NITA workshop, Katherine James and Alan Blumenfeld, of ACT of Communication are curled up in bed listening to the rain come down. Katherine does not realize the roof leak in the office directly above her precious computer with all the info for the program. The next day, her spirits are not crushed, she and Alan quickly mobilize and put on an outstanding, interactive and educational program for NITA members on “Control in the Courtroom” at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
The attendees are comprised of young and senior attorneys from Anchorage to the windy city of Chicago who are looking to connect with jurors, diminish and calm their nerves in the courtroom, improved responses during voir dire, feel comfortable and confident in the courtroom, simplify a case into a compelling story and of course receive CLE credits -to name a few.
Soon after introductions and goals, Katherine dives into the first interactive assignment – the Litmus Test – how to get to the “Human Moment.” The group is fascinated to see the change in a person as they go between talking about a case and a loved one. The goal is to emphasize to the group to be the same person in and out of the courtroom, regardless of the audience. To act like a human being – how are hard can that be? Everyone should try this technique; it is a skill that is helpful to lawyers and non-lawyers.
Next, the group steps into the art of storytelling using the example of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Alan conveys to the group the importance of stories, how it distinguishes us from other species and how to use them to better the case, develop point of view and enhance presence in the courtroom. Alan and Katherine go on to describe the techniques of storytelling, linking the different parts of the story and relating them to the law while adding your own culture, experience and characteristics into the story. The group is transformed through the one-on-one exercises and telegram creation – a fun, challenging and useful exercise. I should practice this technique when arguing with my spouse, LOL, it is applicable in all parts of our life.
After lunch, the afternoon is spent with the attorneys up on their feet practicing the techniques with their colleagues. They also learn valuable non-verbal and vocal exercises to help them prepare for the courtroom and in front of jurors.
As an observer of today’s workshop, I have seen these attorneys bring forth more of their own personality into their “law persona” and become more relaxed when presenting a case. The live communication skills and physical movement techniques in the courtroom that Katherine and Alan present and teach the group are not only helpful for established and aspiring attorneys but also, to anyone who is speaking in front of an audience no matter how small or large.
I look forward to tomorrow’s session which will focus on questioning, voir dire, juror control and cross examination.
As Alan and Katherine say……Questions, comments, criticisms, abuse……..