I’ve been working with two tools that I believe all trial lawyers need to master to improve how they organize their arguments in briefs and in the courtroom.
The first tool is Mind Mapping using the Mindjet MindManager Pro software. The second is rule based organization, as taught in Rick Friedman’s book, Rules of the Road.
My first example is a mind map outline of a conventional negligence analysis. You’ll notice the map documents negligence in the same way it is taught to law school first years in their torts class, that is, duty, breach, causation and damages.
This analysis technique works adequately when the fact pattern is simple, such as a traffic accident or an uncomplicated slip and fall. But, I think we can improve on it.
Now, see how the analysis looks when you apply the rule-based approach in a mind map:
You can see that the rule-based analysis is simpler and more direct. I think it puts the advocate in a better position to communicate their case clearly, because it forces the story into a simpler framework that is easier to understand.
Detailed legal analysis is great for attorneys thinking through their cases. But when we try to force a trier of fact, particularly a lay jury, to follow a complex thought process, we are raising barriers to understanding rather than building bridges.
Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA. A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association. Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine. Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.