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CA Lawyers: Can You Open and Close Like a Pro?

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By George Khoury, Esq. on April 03, 2018 6:57 AM

When it comes to winning at trial, attorneys should never underestimate the power of a strong opening statement and an even stronger closing argument. The right opening can set the tone for the entire trial and a solid closing can tie your whole case together in neat little knot. Bad openings and closing can sink your case from the get-go.

From setting up the jury's expectations to explaining what in the world just happened over the past several days, these are two of the most critical components of any trial. Notably, these are also two of the three times an attorney is actually supposed to address a jury directly (the third being voir dire), so you better make 'em good.

Fortunately, The Rutter Group has an upcoming CLE seminar to help both new and experienced practitioners alike, aptly titled: Good Morning/Thank You Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: A Guide to Effective Opening Statements and Closing Arguments. (Disclaimer: The Rutter Group is FindLaw's sister company.)

Get Trained to Open and Close

If you have a competent adversary keeping you at bay, your opening and closing will be the only chances you get to interject direct argument. That means you only have one shot before you present evidence to give a jury the big picture, and one shot after you present evidence, to explain how that evidence wins your client their case.

When it comes to openings, it helps to know how to preview the right evidence, develop a theme, and keep your jury interested (or maybe just awake). For closings, you need to be able to write one before trial even starts, and then know how to fine tune it (perhaps using visual aids) in order to sway the jury's sense of justice to be in your client's favor.

Where to Train?

The Rutter Group's 3 credit seminar (including 0.5 ethics credits) will be held on Thursday, April 19 in San Francisco and on Wednesday, May 2 in Los Angeles. It is led by California Court of Appeals Justice Elizabeth Grimes and noted trial attorney Michael Stein. And like all of The Rutter Group's seminars, attendees can purchase related trial practices guides at steep discounts.

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