As trials frequently feature two different, competing narratives describing events, it is important to make your client’s story as compelling as possible. The best attorneys tap into their experts’ knowledge to create a solid foundational context for their story. This is reflected in the following observations in Round Table Group discussions with experts, available online:
Attorney Dr. Chris Mammen, of Womble Bond Dickinson, has noted:
As a philosopher by training, I can’t claim specialization in any particular scientific field, but I think that has helped because, particularly in litigation, so much is about telling the story of the dispute and reducing the complex technology to something understandable by the judge and by a lay jury.
Early in his career, Matthew Morr of Ballard Spahr discovered how integral experts can be in defining the setting of the story. Furthermore, he has witnessed how the best experts keep up with the narrative as it evolves during trial:
The first expert that I worked with was Bill Carey […] on lost profit cases. He was a certified public accountant. [… ] In his spare time [he] judged mock trials, took continuing legal education courses on persuasion and was well-read on persuasion and how to talk to judges and juries, and he worked a lot on his writing. […] He did a good job of putting together narratives and stories. [Early] in my career I had the opportunity to work with him on some cases that went to trial and he was a huge asset. Not only was he an expert in the field, [..] but he also had the value add of being able to help us narrow down our themes. He would watch our opening statements to make sure they tracked with what he said. For folks that have been to trial, there is a process where you start narrowing down themes and phrases. He was a big help in doing that. As a young attorney, it was a great experience as I got to learn from this expert, and we worked well together. When I contrast that to some experts I have seen on the other side [..] that is not the case. What they are doing is not consistent with the persuasive story the lawyers are trying to put together.