Drawing on the insights of cognitive and counseling psychology, storytelling, and oral persuasion as well as our years of trial experience, Trialcraft specializes in turning problem witnesses into persuasive testifiers.
We help prepare both fact and expert witnesses for deposition and trial as well as meditation, arbitration presentations, and hearing testimony. (We can also help with executive presentations in high-stakes situations of crisis or conflict.)
Frequently, problem witnesses suffer from anxiety and fear, which leaves them with few internal resources to focus on the question. Most often, what drives anxiety and fear is feeling out of control. In structured prep sessions, we give witnesses tools to take appropriate control that allow them first to experience failure and then, with coaching and support, to achieve success and a feeling of mastery and comfort.
Tools for taking control can include:
- Teaching the witness about trial, the rules of trial testimony, and techniques for dealing with typical cross traps
- Helping the witness to understand the story and themes that need to be conveyed at trial and the role he or she plays in conveying them
- Helping fact witnesses reframe their understanding of what happened
- Helping witnesses acknowledge and release negative emotion
- Developing “safe harbors” — truthful, simple, and sound answers for anticipated tough questions
- Practice, practice, practice
In addition, prepping experts also often requires working with them to produce clear and persuasive slide decks and demonstratives that communicate at an appropriate level (not for a graduate seminar!).
Here are stories about some of our successful fact witness prep with professionals facing negligence claims — when licenses, careers, and reputations are at stake.
Click here for stories about our work with expert witnesses.
Click here for a recommended agenda for a prep session with an expert witness.
We can also help in ways you may not have considered, such as helping with witness assessment and selection, evaluation of opposition witnesses, and targeted development of cross-examination outlines for opposing witnesses. Click the Contact button below for more information.
The most effective way of dealing with “problem” witnesses is most often not to try to change the witness, but to craft your case story around your witness’s personality and demeanor. Don’t row against the current. Roll with the river.”
— Sarah Murray (excerpt from Make Your “Problem” Witness Your Case Solution blog-post)
“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.”
— John Hart, Partner, Hart Wagner
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.” (Business Dispute)
— Steven Piser, Owner, Law Offices of Steven Piser
“The difference between our witnesses and theirs was like night and day. It made a huge difference with the jury.” (Trade Secrets case)
— Carl McConnel, Partner, Hoge Fenton