Effective Closing Arguments for Lawyers
Our experienced court reporters have seen the best (and worst) of lawyer performances. Watching a jury respond to a truly captivating and compelling closing argument is immensely satisfying. Conversely, there are few things as frustrating as watching a strong case fail to convince a factfinder because the legal team failed to adequately demonstrate their side of the case in an effective closing. Below, we provide a few tips for effective closing arguments that we have discovered in our time transcribing legal proceedings. Reach out to our dedicated and detail-oriented Phoenix court reporters for deposition services throughout the state of Arizona.
Use a theme
The strongest cases are those that can be summed up simply and concisely, in a single sentence or two. “This is a case about how the defendant betrayed the trust of its investors.” A successful closing argument will take all of the facts and opinions elicited during the case and tie it back to that single, overarching theme. Themes can, and should, appeal to the emotions of a jury. The theme sums up your side of the matter, and if you do it right, the jury will understand and agree completely.
Show a chronology
Timelines are often vital to prove a case. Knowing who did what when, what each person knew at the time, and what else was happening just before, simultaneously, or just afterward, is key to winning many cases. Timing can show motivation, state of mind, requisite knowledge, and causation. An effective chronology can be a powerful demonstrative to encourage the factfinder to understand and agree with your version of the events.
Use videotaped testimony and quote call-outs
Your summary of a witness’s in-court or deposition testimony will almost certainly be less effective than hearing the words from the horse’s mouth. If you have a video recording of key testimony, play a clip during your closing. If you do not have a recording, it is still helpful to show a visual recreation of the transcript. Even seeing the words on display can be more powerful than simply hearing an argument.
Use charts, graphs, and diagrams
Compelling closing arguments are often as visual as they are auditory. Juries and judges can get bored or distracted during a long closing argument, especially if the subject matter is not immediately engaging. Moreover, if the case is complicated, such as if it involves a convoluted timeline or detailed financial statements and transactions, juries can be easily confused. Properly utilizing visual aids can keep factfinders engaged and properly informed throughout your closing argument.
If you need high-quality and efficient court reporting services in Arizona, contact the Phoenix offices of Ottmar & Associates at 602-485-1488.