Opening Statements & Closing Arguments
Crafting effective opening statements and closing arguments is about effective oral performance, storytelling, and persuasion. We help you structure your presentation so it’s easy for you to deliver and easy for jurors to listen to and receive — so it reaches jurors on both the conscious and unconscious levels.
Your opening statement needs to lay out a clear and consistent road map to trial that offers a compelling story that makes jurors want to listen to your side— but doesn’t make promises you are unlikely to fulfill. Ideally, you do this in 30 to 45 minutes, as jurors’ (and judges’) attention spans wane past then. You gain credibility by showing jurors evidence you expect to see, not just telling them. Typically, figuring out what is most essential to show and tell is challenging because you are so close to the details of the case.
Your closing argument must summarize the complete and consistent trial story that has emerged in the evidence and tie together what jurors have learned with the law and the verdict questions they need to answer. A consistent story means tying up any loose ends that may still confuse the jury. Have you identified and answered any remaining psychological questions that have arisen throughout the trial? Are there any promises you made that you did not keep that you need to explain? Have you made clear how your themes relate to the actual decisions jurors need to make? Have you given them understandable motives for the conduct of your party? Are you giving them good emotional and moral reasons — as well as evidence and law — to decide for your side?
We excel in identifying the key psychological decisions jurors need to make in order to reach the legal decisions you and your client want. Once you have identified those, crafting both your opening statement and your closing argument becomes much simpler as the information your audience wants is clear.
The most important part of any successful trial strategy is the identification of themes and it is here that I find your skills unique. I have never met anyone — including a host of top-tier attorneys I have met over the course of my career — who can match your ability to cut through all of the chaos and evidentiary “distractions” to quickly identify and help develop key themes in difficult cases.
That skill was highlighted in one of my recent “smoke jump” cases where I was retained as a trial attorney near the end of discovery.
The case was factually complex, involving numerous percipient witnesses and 12 plaintiffs. You got up to speed quickly … and contributed significantly to the formulation of the opening statement and consulted on various critical issues during the multi-month trial. The insights and suggestions you had for closing argument were extraordinarily helpful. The case began as a highly publicized and emotional case of what was widely described as a “clear liability” case with the potential for huge damages. In the end, we obtained a hung jury after plaintiffs demanded more than $55 million; the case settled for a fraction of that amount and well below all pre-trial settlement demands. My clients were very relieved and appreciative of the outcome and I thank you for the significant contribution you made to that result.”
— Rick Linkert, Matheny Sears Linkert & Jaime LLP
“When I first started working with you, I had already done maybe 100 jury trials. I was surprised at what I still had to learn about voir dire and jury selection. I’ve used the skills I learned on every case I’ve tried since, to great success — so the value went far beyond what Sarah brought to the cases on which we worked together.”
“After our meeting, I felt like there was a Spock mind-meld and I had the sense that I knew what the objective was for voir dire and, with that sense, I could be successful. It’s funny — I had the sense that the voir dire was a bit of a performance and taking stabs in the dark, but actually, it is much more concrete with clear objectives. Thanks again!”
“Sarah's quick mastery of complicated facts and ability to tailor focus groups and mock trials to the issues in the case is unsurpassed.”
“I worked with Sarah Murray on a complex civil antitrust matter. Well in advance of trial, Sarah and her team were involved in the development of trial strategies, our client narrative, and witness preparation. At trial, Sarah assisted with jury selection and ran a shadow jury. Sarah also developed questions for post-trial polling..." READ MORE >
"... using your script, for the first time in my career I was able to successfully challenge for cause a juror sitting on the panel. In addition, the next day after the jury was empaneled, it was discovered that one of the jurors was under a broker/client relationship for the purchase of a home and sale of an existing home where the broker was the wife of one of the defense counsel. Both the defendant and the judge minimized the possibility of bias. Again, using your script, I was able to get her to say the magic words such that I didn’t even need to move to strike her — the judge determined it on his own. Thank you for your help. It was invaluable!"
“... thank you for the excellent advice and guidance you have provided in a number of high exposure cases over the past several years. My clients and I have benefitted from an array of your services — ranging from mock trials to strategies for closing argument in a multi-month trial. What I have found uniquely beneficial is the depth of what you bring to a case and your unflinching commitment to calling it as you see it for the betterment of the case and its presentation. ..." READ MORE >
“We knew that the testimony of the defendant doctor was going to be the key to winning the case. The work you did to prepare her, getting over her feelings of guilt about the bad outcome and guilt about going against a patient, made all the difference: I don’t think we would have won without you.”
“...You did a better job on depo prep than I could have done because you were not concerned about interfering with the lawyer/client relationship. Your work was essential to the successful resolution of this case.”
“...The difference between our witnesses and theirs was like night and day. It made a huge difference with the jury.”