144 – Eric Oliver – Beyond the Facts: Trial Consultant Eric Oliver on How to Tell Your Client’s Story

Jury trials can be notoriously unpredictable, even when the facts are in your favor. To be successful at trial, attorneys need to do more than just rehearse their opening and closing statements. They also need to know how to influence the jury.

On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, Michael Cowen is joined by nationally recognized trial consultant and the author of several trial guides, Eric Oliver. Applying over 40 years of experience and his background in marketing and persuasion, Eric shares strategies and techniques that trial lawyers can use, such as storytelling, reverse sequencing, and the use of nonverbal communication, to engage and persuade the jury. Eric and Michael also discuss things such as confirmation bias and what lawyers need to be aware of so as not to alienate the jury. 

Tune in to gain valuable insight and tips on how to present your case more like a story to persuade the jury. 

Don’t miss out! Michael’s book, Big Rig Justice: A Comprehensive Guide to Maximizing Value in Truck Accident Cases is now available!

Featured Guest

Name: Eric Oliver

About:  Eric Oliver is a seasoned trial consultant with over 40 years of experience in the field. A nationally recognized trial consultant, Eric specializes in leveraging persuasion and perception of facts to influence legal decision-making. His expertise lies in working with trial attorneys and assisting them in presenting well-developed case stories that effectively sway decision-makers, both inside and outside the jury box. His books are available at Trial Guides

Company: Metasystems Consulting LTD.

Connect: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights 

[01:54] Eric Oliver’s background: Eric talks about his marketing and persuasion background and how he got started as a trial consultant.

[04:17] Books by Eric Oliver: Eric mentions how some of the books he has written and co-written have come about, including Facts Can’t Speak for Themselves and a revision called, Facts Still Can’t Speak for Themselves

[08:26] Get over the hump of suspicion and engage the jury: Research shows that people are genetically wired to create narratives. Trial lawyers can favorably present their client’s case to the jury by using this information to tell an intentional and cohesive story.

[11:25] How to do focus groups: The trick is to never ask the jury to take a position on the case, because it can work to your disadvantage. 

[13:54] Story components that are persuasive to a jury: Present your case more as a story and less as a case by incorporating elements of a narrative, such as point of view.

[15:20] Confirmation bias: Eric explains the meaning of confirmation bias and how it influences the jury’s thought process and decision-making. 

[18:11] The importance of motive and how to show it, rather than tell it: Eric and Michael discuss why motive is important, even in a negligence case, and how to show motive without telling the jury what they should think.  

[26:46] Rehearse your case and your experts: One challenge at trial is that when witnesses get on the stand, the whole story can fall apart. Eric explains a trick that you can use to train your experts to adopt your language, your imagery, your metaphors, and your analogies. 

[33:33] Sequencing doesn’t always mean starting at the beginning: Starting with the defendant’s story and working up to the bad act is not always the best approach. Sometimes a reverse timeline, where you start with the worst and back up to the beginning bad act, is more effective. 

[36:29] The good and not-so-good things about nonverbal communication: Eric discusses the pros and cons of nonverbal communication, and provides examples. He also talks about how to create rapport with the jury, including how to use mirroring.


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In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

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