August 27, 2015 Articles

What Litigators Can Learn from Actors

By Roxanna Augesen Manuel

“How did you memorize all those lines?” From Hamlet to Blanche DuBois, this is the No. 1 question asked of actors at audience talkback sessions after performance. The gracious actor answers that it takes a lot of time to commit lines to memory. But every trained actor knows there is a lot more to performance than rote memorization. A phenomenal amount of hard, and sometimes mundane, work goes into creating what looks to the audience like sheer inspiration. The more the actor works at her craft before she ever walks in front of the audience, the more intuitive her performance seems. She makes it look easy, so the audience follows where she leads.

Whether arguing a summary judgment motion or pleading her case before a jury, the skilled advocate would never walk into court without meticulous preparation. You will know your facts and your law; you will have every exhibit at your fingertips. Preparing for your performance in the courtroom can be just as key to your credibility and persuasiveness. Make it look easy, and your audience will follow.

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