Three Strategies for the Corporate Defendant: From Crisis Management Through Trial

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One of the most common misconceptions surrounding corporate defendants is the belief that portraying corporations as collections of ordinary people who just go to work and try to do their best can sway jurors. Unfortunately, data, such as mock trials, have consistently demonstrated that jurors see through these arguments. Also, jurors tend to discount arguments made about how the company supports other worthy causes, recognizing that those charitable contributions are tax write-offs and calling those actions insincere or tainted. 

Companies need a strong, knowledgeable, and well-trained corporate witness to thwart a plaintiff attorney’s attack on the defendant’s policies, procedures, profits, and internal correspondence at deposition. Plus, they also need a corporate representative that jurors will perceive positively. Because of this, understanding how to prepare a corporate witness effectively can have lasting repercussions for companies.

Why is having a plan in place to prepare a corporate witness important?

Having a plan in place is crucial for preparing a corporate witness because it allows for a strategic and deliberate approach to shaping the narrative and perception surrounding the company. This proactive approach of preparing corporate representatives ensures that their performance at deposition and trial is as effective as possible. 

Corporate Representatives Are Seen As The Face of the Company

Corporate representatives serve as the face of the company, embodying its values, credibility, and overall persona in the eyes of jurors and the public. Their demeanor and ability to communicate effectively can significantly influence juror perceptions. One key aspect of humanizing the corporate defendant is ensuring that corporate representatives are well-prepared and able to present the company in the best light possible, and that starts with getting them involved early in the process. Allowing enough time to provide them with the necessary training will help ensure they are prepared to face depositions and trials confidently and address any potential pitfalls. 

Thus, the careful selection and preparation of corporate representatives are critical components of any strategy aimed at shaping a positive narrative and fostering a connection between the jurors, the representative, and the corporate entity. Attributes such as humility, patience, emotional poise, confidence, open-mindedness, and focus are valuable for individuals serving as corporate representatives. When a corporate representative displays these essential qualities, they are likely to be well-equipped to navigate the challenges of litigation successfully.

Develop a Thoughtful Crisis Communication Response 

Developing a thoughtful crisis communication response is another cornerstone of safeguarding a corporate defendant’s reputation. The narrative surrounding the incident and the company's subsequent actions can profoundly impact public opinion and potential jurors' perceptions. Crafting a well-thought-out crisis communication plan involves addressing the immediate crisis and establishing a narrative that reflects the company's commitment to transparency, responsibility, and corrective action.

A strategic response can mitigate potential damage by providing clear and empathetic communication, assuring stakeholders that the company takes the situation seriously. This proactive approach can mitigate potential damage before litigation arises, fostering a positive view of the corporation. By proactively shaping the narrative, defense teams can lay the groundwork to demonstrate a corporate defendant’s accountability and potentially sway opinions in a more favorable direction.

Addressing Anti-Corporate Bias

Anti-corporate bias can significantly impact how jurors perceive the case, potentially clouding their judgment and predisposing them against the corporate defendant. To adequately identify and address potential biases among jurors, defense attorneys must ask insightful voir dire questions that delve into juror attitudes, 

Defense attorneys can tailor their strategies by pinpointing these explicit or implicit biases early in the litigation process. As these biases can significantly impact the overall perception of the case, this proactive approach is essential in creating an environment where the corporate defendant has a chance for a more equitable legal outcome.

Humanizing the corporate defendant is a nuanced and challenging task that requires a comprehensive approach. By prioritizing the preparation of corporate representatives, crafting effective crisis communication plans, and strategically addressing biases during jury selection, defense attorneys can create a more humanized and relatable image of the corporate defendant. 

At Courtroom Sciences, our psychology experts evaluate and train corporate rep candidates to serve in that role, ensuring their testimony performance is well-received. Speak with one of our experts to get started. 

Key Takeaways

●  A carefully chosen and well-prepared corporate representative can positively sway juror opinion by presenting a relatable and credible image.

●  During times of crisis, the company's narrative and response play a crucial role in shaping public opinion and juror perceptions.

●  Insightful voir dire questions are crucial in identifying jurors with anti-corporate biases that may impact their judgment.

●  A comprehensive plan is key to consistently humanizing the corporate defendant throughout litigation.

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