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