February 21, 2019 Articles

Closing Arguments: Common Pitfalls and Pointers

Ignorance of what constitutes improper conduct during closing can have a severe detrimental impact on a client’s case

By Lauren Reynolds and Bryan Gottfredson

Closing argument is the culmination of not only an exhaustive trial but also an entire underlying litigation process that may have been years in the making. It is incumbent on a lawyer to deliver an interesting, persuasive argument that engages the jury, summarizing the points of the case and rebutting the opponent’s argument. Despite the belief of many lawyers that there are no restrictions on closing arguments and that their closing argument is in some way shielded from objections by opposing counsel, there are a number of ethical and legal bases on which a closing argument may result in negative consequences for both lawyer and client that must be taken into account prior to the culmination of the case. Before delivering an impactful and persuasive closing argument, or objecting to an opponent’s closing argument, a lawyer should take care to appreciate, understand, and avoid the following potential ethical and evidentiary hazards that await the unwary.

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