Selecting the "right" corporate representative
The importance of selecting the "right" Corporate Representative
Selecting the right person to act as the Corporate Representative during a civil lawsuit is a difficult endeavor for both in-house and trial counsel. A strong, knowledgeable, well-trained corporate witness can thwart a plaintiff attorney’s attack on the defendant’s policies, procedures, profits, and internal correspondence at deposition. However, selecting the wrong Corporate Representative to testify on behalf of the company can be a multi-million-dollar mistake. Incredibly, this happens all too often as the “person most knowledgeable” is frequently not the best “witness” at deposition. Specifically, the most cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally fit person is often not chosen to be the Corporate Representative, typically due to age and/or lack of longevity with the company. Many corporations are currently facing the challenge of finding new Corporate Representatives, as their 30-year veteran “go-to” witnesses are entering retirement. In-house and trial counsel must face these key questions:
1) Who should represent our company in this case?
2) Do I choose the best witness or most knowledgeable person and what are the pros and cons of each option?
3) Am I making a multi-million-dollar mistake?
How to know the answers
The approach to answer these questions requires a scientifically based assessment of the true strengths and weaknesses of prospective Corporate Representatives. Importantly, this proactive witness assessment system is meant to be implemented BEFORE a case has been filed against the corporation. Figuring out you have a smart, knowledgeable Corporate Representative who is an ineffective witness two months before deposition is a perilous position to be in. Understandably, many attorneys struggle to assess, understand and teach these communication skills adequately, as they usually have no formal training in the two academic disciplines that comprise the backbone of witness effectiveness: neuropsychology and communication science. Assessing and adjusting a witness’s communication style, personality traits, cognition patterns, emotional reactions, and behavioral characteristics are very difficult tasks (Kanasky, 2014). With the plaintiff’s bar putting the pedal to the metal, particularly utilizing highly effective Reptilian techniques taught in Don Keenan and David Ball’s popular Reptile training seminars, there is no choice for defendants but to throw the first (and second) punch in this never ending fight.
CSI® is the only litigation consulting firm that uses scientifically based witness training protocols to specifically improve the testimony of fact or corporate witnesses. Specifically, our analysis of thousands of deposition transcripts reveals that 95% of damaging and/or ineffective testimony can be traced to two specific neuropsychological errors: 1) cognitive processing errors and 2) emotional-survival response errors. Poor deposition testimony can drastically increase the cost of litigation and settlement value and is also the top cause of adverse trial verdicts with high damage awards. Therefore, we have constructed a sophisticated neuropsychological training program to prevent these errors from ever occurring, thus protecting your company from increased economic exposure and vulnerability. The Corporate Representative Training Program can be conducted virtually or in-person.
The CSI Corporate Representative Training Program serves two primary needs:
1. Evaluation and assessment of new Corporate Representatives (Bootcamp)
2. Annual refresher training for current Corporate Representatives (Refresher)
Benefits of CSI Corporate Representative Bootcamp
§ Insight: use to evaluate and assess specific, or multiple, candidates
§ Convenience: train Corporate Representative candidates and Persons Most Knowledgeable (PMKs) in a single group session
§ Personalization: delivers customized training that is unique to each individual and their specific cognitive and emotional situation
§ Confidence: ensure you know who your best Corporate Representatives - in advance of the need - and they are fully prepared for their role to ensure positive outcomes
§ Protection: safeguard your organization from exposure prior to, and during, litigation
The Role of Cognitive Fatigue on Witness Performance