Ideas from the wyoming trial lawyers convention

Ideas from the wyoming trial lawyers convention

The Wyoming Trial Lawyers’ Association held their annual meeting in Jackson in June of this year. I was privileged to be invited to speak. The convention materials were very informative. Here are a couple of excerpts from two of the convention papers.

David Bossart Fargo, North Dakota provided a paper entitled Law, Lawyers & Listening, What do they have in Common. He quotes from the book Listen Up by

Larry Barker, Ph.D. and Kittie Watson, Ph.D., St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2000 their list of the top ten irritating listening habits:

  • Interrupting the speaker.


  • Not looking at the speaker

  • Rushing the speaker and making them feel that that they are wasting the listener’s time

  • Showing interest in something other than the conversation

  • Getting ahead of the speaker and finishing their thoughts

  • Not responding to the speaker’s requests

  • Saying "Yes, but…,"as if the listener has made up his mind

  • Topping the speaker’s story with "That reminds me of …,"or "That’s nothing, let me tell you

Frank Costilla Brownsville, Texas paper was entitled Techniques & Approaches to Motivation. He pointed out that some of the defendant’s own corporate language can be of great help to the plaintiff. It may create an image of a big corporation or one that dominates the market or professes safety as an important thing for it. Here are some of his examples:

  • "most powerful"

  • "leader in the industry"

  • "On time, every time"

  • "safest company in the world"

  • "largest in the country/world"

  • greatest resources available"

  • "greatest knowledge about…"

  • "best position to research and develop…"

  • "professes to be 100% safety conscious"

  • "zero tolerance"

  • "puts safety first"

  • "unequaled expertise"

    He does a good job of providing a summary of David Ball’s basic rules of conduct. These are helpful rules because it is very difficult to deny they make sense:

    • "The greater the danger, the higher the level of care required"
    • "Safety is the number one priority"
    • "Nothing is more important than safety"
    • "A doctor is never allowed to unnecessarily endanger a patient"
    • "When there are two ways of doing the same thing, a doctor is obligated to do it the safest way"

    There is in psychology a concept of the "halo effect" when another person is seen as having qualities because of the words or actions of another. In trial, lawyers should always demonstrate respect, consideration and concern for their clients both verbally and non verbally. Descriptions of characteristics that conservatives identify with include some of these:

    • "Personally responsible in life"
    • "Self reliant"
    • "Hard working"
    • "Independent""Fighter"
    • ‘Morally upstanding"
    • "Positive and hopeful not defeated and dejected"
    • "Good person, good father, good son, good sibling"

    I was impressed with the quality of speakers and the written materials at this convention.

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