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Facts Still Can't Speak for Themselves: Reveal the Stories that Give Facts Their Meaning

Eric Oliver offers trial attorneys proven ways to uncover the full range of those "rewritten" stories in focus groups, and how to take their best elements into court to deliver a story more likely to persuade than the one you thought you had.
Publisher: NITA

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ISBN: 9781601564399
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Today, most trial lawyers and consultants accept the fact that all legal decision makers decide cases by first making up their own version of the case story. Yet, few have yet to fully adjust their practices to meet the demands of that reality. Facts Still Can't Speak for Themselves offers specific methods for trial professionals to increase their reach into the full range of potential stories decision makers can construct (and will construct) during any single case, and then shows you how to refine those stories into the one most compelling presentation for any legal decision maker to judge, in any legal decision-making venue.

What you'll find inside: 

• How the stories decision makers imagine affect verdicts as much as their backgrounds and beliefs or the attorney's presentation in court
• Which focus group method reveals the real range of stories decision makers can build from your case
• How to profitably apply focus group results in negotiations and mediation equally well as in trials
• How to run voir dire like a focus group (and a focus group like voir dire) improving both in the process—and how to avoid common misleading mistakes
• How focus group deliberations are the least valuable part of the process
• How asking focus group participants which side in a case they "like" could be a major mistake
• Why you should think twice before ever again asking a "why" question or using the word "any" during voir dire or in focus groups
• How to establish immediate rapport with decision makers and to manage how they build their perceptions of your client's case story—in time to affect their final judgments

In this new edition, Eric Oliver dives deeply into cutting-edge research in communication, human judgment, perception, and influence and breaks down the process of turning theoretical abstractions into effective persuasive practices that help legal decision makers hear–and see–the case story from your client's point of view. Each chapter is now supplemented with some of the most relevant developments in the science of decision making, as well as with the decade of additional experience Eric has acquired working with trial lawyers and their clients since the first edition was published in 2005.

Authors / Contributors

Table of Contents


Foreword by Mike Doyle

Foreword by David Ball

Preface 2015

Preface 2005


Chapter One:    Making up Your Mind
    1.1     Seeds of Judgment
    1.2     Terrain of the Story Context
    1.3     Story Elements
    1.4     Process of Story Growth
    1.5     Seeking out Stories
    1.6     2015 Supplement

Chapter Two:    Lives of Their Own
    2.1     Tempting Types
    2.2     Familiar Ground
    2.3     New Ground
    2.4     Illusion of Control
    2.5     2015 Supplement

Chapter Three:    In the Beginning
    3.1     Roots of Story Growth
    3.2     Limitless Possibilities
    3.3     Common Bias, Experience and Sense
    3.4     The "Right" Way to Drive
    3.5     Indirect Inclusion and Expansion
    3.6     Presupposition
    3.7     Getting Groups into Focus
    3.8     The "Problem" with Focus Groups
    3.9     How We Build Our Stories
    3.10     Perceptions and Their Influence
    3.11     Influence of Thinking Processes
    3.12     Decision-Making Biases or Heuristics
    3.13     Psychological Factors
    3.14     Harvesting a Case Story
    3.15     2015 Supplement

Chapter Four:    Well Begun
    4.1     Preparing to Present
    4.2     Video Testimony
    4.3     Visual Aids
    4.4     Small Bites
    4.5     Focus Group Presentation Tips
    4.6     Ground Rules
    4.7     Sample Transcript-Introduction and Job Description
    4.8     2015 Supplement

Chapter Five:    Open Wide
    5.1     Inviting Stories to Grow
    5.2     Invite Input
    5.3     Reality, What a Concept
    5.4     Planting the Story Seeds
    5.5     Seeking Signs of Early Growth
    5.6     Debriefing Participants
    5.7     Polling Questions
    5.8     Cultivating Story Growth
    5.9     Harvesting the Whole Story
    5.10     2015 Supplement

Chapter Six:    Refining the Story
    6.1     Bringing in the Crop
    6.2     Bridging and Blending
    6.3     Nonverbal Input
    6.4     Verbal Input
    6.5     Oppositions and Linkages
    6.6     Degrees of Judgment
    6.7     Written Input
    6.8     Tell Me a Story
    6.9     Packaging the Full Yield
    6.10     2015 Supplement

Chapter Seven:    What's Your Story? Voir Dire and Opening Statement
    7.1     Plowing-Voir Dire
    7.2     Medical Loss Ratio
    7.3     The "Criminal Mindset"
    7.4     Kill the Lone Gunman
    7.5     Bending the Branch
    7.6     Your Story
    7.7     Distorted Judgments
    7.8     Priming the Pump
    7.9     Sequencing Hot Topics
    7.10     Effective Education
    7.11     Winnowing the Panelists
    7.12     "Please Excuse Yourself Now"
    7.13     Planting-Opening Statement
    7.14     The Story's Central Image
    7.15     Unsupported Conclusions
    7.16     Tracking Growth
    7.17     2015 Supplement

Chapter Eight:    Start, Look, and Listen: Visual and Verbal Aids and Evidence
    8.1     Feast Your Eyes
    8.2     Common Problems with Exhibits and Visuals
    8.3     Visuals: So How Are They Best Shown?
    8.4     Gleaning Images
    8.5     Handling Imagery
    8.6     Visually Seeding Perceptions
    8.7     Visually Seeding Narratives
    8.8     "Sightlines"- Conscious and Other-than-Conscious
    8.9     Behavioral Illustration
    8.10     Offering Visuals with Witnesses
    8.11     One Story, Many Mouths
    8.12     2015 Supplement

Chapter Nine:    Sowing Premium Seeds: Story Delivery
    9.1     Finished Products
    9.2     Case One: Surgical Neglect
    9.3     Case Two: First–Degree Murder
    9.4     Case Three: Negligent Delivery of Service (Electrical Utility)
    9.5     Case Four: Professional Misconduct
    9.6     2015 Supplement

Appendix One: Function Follows Form

Appendix Two: Glossary

Appendix Three: Sample Opening Statements: Theory in Practice

      Case One
      Case Two
      Case Three

Appendix Four: Small Group Standards and Guidelines