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Trial Technique: Opening Statements

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Trial attorney Brian Kabateck spoke about opening statements during trial at the Santa Monica Bar Association Trial Seminar. He explained the importance of being able to describe your case in 30 seconds and of memorizing your opening statement. Mr. Kabateck always introduces his clients to the jury early on. He also believes that in today’s multimedia world, the jury expects it and certainly doesn’t want to just hear you talk.

The key for any litigation attorney is to keep the jury “intrigued” since people these days have shorter attention spans. Mr. Kabateck uses timelines to contextualize the story. He introduces key witnesses (with a photo if possible) and summarizes their testimony with bullet points.

Don’t tell the jury what the theme is but make sure that they understand it. Don’t say you’re an expert but educate the jury about things they are interested in.

As a plaintiff’s attorney, Mr. Kabateck advised the attorneys to “talk about the money and talk about it often. They need to be conditioned.”

Lastly, Mr Kabateck said to be yourself and go through the case methodically.

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