By Hon. (Ret.) Ken E. Adair
Lawyers: Listening Doesn’t Have to be Difficult
Video Transcribed: One of my greatest difficulties is that I’m not a good listener, never have been a good listener. I work on it. I work on it almost every day of my life, learning how to listen to people. And my brain operates pretty quickly.
I have ADHD, I can see and hear a lot of things going on at once, I’m easily distracted. But I’m not a passive listener, I’m an active listener. So people don’t always think that I’m listening when I’m listening intently and very actively.
But learning how to listen, that’s difficult for lawyers. Lawyers… There’s a selection bias about who goes to law school in the first place and there are some egos involved there, no matter what.
So learn to be a passive listener, ask probing questions after the client or prospective client has told you what they want to tell you. Learn to be a passive listener.
One of the things I learned recently that a lawyer did and it was brilliant. A person had been… There was a plaintiff and there was a defendant who had wronged them. It was some sort of betrayal. Every good cause is a betrayal of some sort, in a civil case, it’s a betrayal.
And there will be situations in criminal cases, where you’ll be talking to a witness who was betrayed in some way. They might’ve been lied to by another witness, lied to by a family member. They might have been lied to by a police officer to get him to tell the story.
We know that the Supreme Court of The United States has said, and the Court of Criminal Appeals in Oklahoma has said that it’s okay to lie, what is called an extrinsic lie in the course of an investigation, to get somebody to tell the truth. You can lie to get the truth.
But if a person has been betrayed in some way and you’re trying to talk to this prospective client or this client or this prospective witness or witness about what happened and how they feel about what happened.
You’re the lawyer and you’re asking them a question about, “Well, what would you like to say to that person?” “Well, I don’t know. I don’t know.” “What do you mean?” And so what this lawyer did is this lawyer says, “Well, tell me about this other person, the person that betrayed you.” And it’s a role reversal exercise and I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about how it’s done.
But the witness or client can assume the role of this person that betrayed them, can describe themselves in the role of this person who betrayed them and the lawyer can then assume the role of the betrayer. It’s not complicated, it’s not difficult. It’s very easy.
And so as the person that betrayed the witness, there’s a conversation that will ensue. And then the person that did the betraying, the lawyer in the role of the betrayer says to the witness or the client, “Was there anything you’d like to say to me?”
And they would say it in the role of being the person who did the betrayal. Which you find out is that things come flowing out, that wouldn’t come out in the context of sitting there with a pen and paper and taking notes and listening and writing notes.
Put yourself in the role of the person that did the wrongdoing that did the wrong or betrayed your client, or betrayed the witness. And assume that role and make sure that the other person knows what that role is.
If you need to know more about role reversal, you can get online, you can go to the Trial Lawyer College in Wyoming or one of the regional seminars. You’ll learn all you need to know about role reversal and how you can flesh out the truth of the case using role reversal.
So I hope again, this video has been helpful. If it’s a little complicated or seems a little goofy, just listen to it a couple of times, maybe Google role reversal, and you’ll understand what I’m saying. So again, thank you for listening and watching. This is Trial Attorney, Ken Adair. If You are looking for First and Second Chair Co-Counsel, Focus Groups & Mock Jury Trial Sociometrics, Jury Trial Preparation Services, visit trial-win.com