How Attorney Demeanor Can Affect a Case
Plaintiff's attorneys have evolved to become far more aggressive when compared with most defense attorneys, particularly given the emergence of increasingly aggressive plaintiff tactics, such as reptile attacks. The plaintiff’s bar is not only looking to win but is frequently pursuing nuclear settlements and verdicts. As such, many defense attorneys have noticed that the mindset and strategy they have found effective for many years are no longer achieving their desired result.
To maximize their chance of seeing superior settlement and verdict outcomes, many defense attorneys find that the polite demeanor they may once have relied on now must be replaced with a more proactive and aggressive litigation strategy. For defense attorneys, the right strategy and demeanor can drastically impact a case's outcome, influencing jurors and delivering superior litigation outcomes.
How does attorney demeanor affect attorney credibility?
Credibility is frequently determined more by nonverbal behavior than by verbal content. An attorney who appears arrogant, frustrated, or impolite risks negatively impacting the jury’s opinion and damaging their credibility. On the contrary, an attorney who demonstrates expertise, objectivity, and communicativeness can improve the jury’s perception of their credibility.
Defense Attorney Demeanor Impacts Juror’s Opinions
The courtroom is an environment with a complex interplay between many factors, one being attorney credibility. In a courtroom, the body language of an attorney, such as posture, facial expressions, gestures, and even eye movements, can subtly impact how their words are received. When it comes to defense attorneys, jurors may notice even the most minute details, such as rolling their eyes during the other party’s presentation. Jurors have indicated that some specific behaviors may decrease an attorney’s credibility, including a lack of humility and being unprepared.
Despite some preconceptions, effective, aggressive courtroom tactics have the potential to be seen either as damaging to the case or as beneficial; it all depends on the attorney's corresponding demeanor. For example, if the jury sees a defense attorney as abrasive, mean-spirited, or unlikable, their aggressiveness may be perceived as a negative trait. However, if the attorney is perceived as likable and gracious, jurors may view their aggressiveness as a more substantial commitment to securing a positive outcome for their client. Furthermore, experience has shown that the most cautious side often operates at a tactical disadvantage. In determining when they should bend the rules or where to draw the line, defense attorneys may ask themselves, ‘Will this favorably influence the jury?’
Additionally, attorney demeanor has the potential to impact all aspects of the litigation process and extends to behaviors outside of the courtroom and within the vicinity of the courthouse. As a rule of thumb, attorneys should assume that jurors always watch their behavior. Because of this, defense attorneys must constantly be aware of the nonverbal messages they may be sending to others.
Defense Attorney Demeanor Can Deliver Superior Results
Often, defense attorneys have based their courtroom strategies on the goal of not losing rather than a focus on winning. Now, particularly with the formidable behavior seen lately by plaintiff's counsel, this tendency can cause defense attorneys to be even more reactive in their approach, putting them on a weaker footing from the start of the case. Defense attorneys may be better served by developing a more assertive and aggressive demeanor to combat this.
Defense attorneys have an opportunity to be more proactive and more aggressive in their litigation strategy with the help of litigation consulting experts and questions about specific tactics can easily be tested in focus groups and mock trials. Witness preparation can also be beneficial for helping attorneys practice developing their assertive style because the skills utilized during that preparation time translate into taking a good deposition, which further translates into performing well in a courtroom in front of a judge, jury, and opposing counsel.
Formulating the most advantageous approach to litigation often necessitates having better data and superior insights to realize the best possible outcomes. Whether through exploratory focus groups or witness assessment and training, defense attorneys can utilize litigation consultants to get involved as soon as the case is filed. These early findings can guide the discovery process and be used to inform settlement negotiations.
At Courtroom Sciences, our litigation research and psychology professionals deliver the most predictive research programs, helping you uncover invaluable information critical for achieving superior litigation outcomes. Speak with one of our experts to get started.
● Attorney demeanor can impact a jury’s opinions and potentially drastically affect the outcome of a case.
● Aggressive courtroom tactics have the potential to be seen either as damaging to the case or as beneficial; it all depends on the attorney's corresponding demeanor.
● Defense attorneys have an opportunity to be more proactive and more aggressive in their litigation strategy with the help of litigation consulting experts.
● Courtroom Sciences’ experts can help provide trial attorneys with better data and superior insights to realize the best possible outcomes.
Preventing Nuclear Settlements at Deposition