As a litigator, you have a lot of details to manage. One of the most crucial details is the jury’s perception of your client relationship. Managing your client relationship is vital at trial.
Why is the jury’s perception of your relationship with your client important to the outcome of a trial?
Jurors notice and discuss attorney-client rapport in the jury room.
How many times have any of us seen another attorney who barely speaks to, or even looks at, their client? Attorneys who fail to manage their client relationship at trial and engage with their clients miss an important chance to humanize their plaintiff or defendant in front of the jury. Jurors who observe attorneys sitting within a foot or two of their clients, but not engaging in a meaningful way, often perceive that the attorney dislikes the client or does not actually believe in the client’s position. This may not be fair, and it’s undoubtedly an obstacle to winning a case. Jurors who witness a cordial, professional relationship between attorneys and clients are more prone to like both the client and the attorney— because both are humanized. Managing your client relationship in such a way to be visible to jurors is often one of the most important details in any trial presentation.
At trial, and while in the courthouse, find ways of engaging in meaningful and helpful interactions with your clients. Consult with your clients from time to time while you’re examining witnesses. Pass occasional notes to your client explaining a courtroom procedure or to answer a question. Make sure your client is comfortable in the courtroom.
These most essential and basic human interactions are a foundation for shaping juror perceptions and, definitely, a winning strategy.