Every Trial Needs a Theme

Trials are highly organized, adhering to a very specific set of rules and procedures. The trial process itself takes significant time to learn—simply how to do one, how to address the jury, how to make an opening statement, how to introduce evidence, how and when to object to evidence, how to move exhibits into evidence, how to argue jury instructions, and how to make a closing argument, to address only the significant aspects of the trial. The onerous and minute detail that encompasses the trial process itself can be daunting. Even a lawyer that has a few trials usually lacks a strong grasp of the entirety of the process.

Once a trial lawyer becomes proficient in the process, where counsel knows it well enough to not enough require much concentration, the trial attorney must think in a broader perspective, far above simply trying to follow all the rules and become a competent trial attorney.

The experienced trial lawyer should articulate, well before the trial begins, his or her theme for the trial. The trial’s theme is, of course, unique for each case and depends upon each unique set of facts, laws and circumstances. Once that theme is articulated and absorbed, the theme should permeate every aspect of the trial. The theme is independent of whether or not the represented party is a plaintiff, defendant, cross-complainant or cross-defendant. In other words, the trial’s theme is applicable to any circumstances.

The theme should permeate the entire trial and every aspect as presented by counsel—from the way counsel dresses and addresses the jury, to the questions asked of witnesses, to the way evidence is offered or presented.

If this theme is adopted and supported by the trial’s presentation and evidence, this theme may assist the subcontractor before the jury, creating an unarticulated image that supports the subcontractor’s case. With every trial, counsel should create, adopt and pursue a theme throughout the entire trial that supports the client’s case, no matter what position is being advocated.