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143 – Malorie Peacock – Employees Can’t Read Minds: Michael and Malorie on Law Firm Training

Lawyers constantly receive training in the form of CLE. However, training staff members in the day-to-day running of a law office is no less important to a successful practice. Nobody comes into a law firm knowing everything. Ongoing reminders and documented procedures are needed for employees to learn new things, retain information, and correct mistakes. 

On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, host Michael Cowen speaks with his fellow partner and trial attorney Malorie Peacock about how, why, and when to train employees at every level of the firm, from clerks and receptionists to paralegals and litigators.  

Tune in to hear Michael and Malorie discuss their approach to training at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock and lessons they’ve learned through years of training “trial and error”. Every office trains differently, but as they point out, there are some starting points and areas of emphasis that can help every firm implement a training program that is mission-focused and effective. 

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: Malorie J Peacock

About: Malorie J Peacock is a Partner at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock. She was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. During her time with Cowen Rodriguez Peacock, Malorie has worked on numerous commercial vehicle, trucking, and wrongful death cases. Malorie brings close attention to detail, commitment to finding safety issues and areas of neglect, continued utilization of technology and cutting-edge visuals in cases, along with a sincere passion to help those who have been hurt, to each and every case.

Company: Cowen Rodriguez Peacock

Connect: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights 

[02:57] Employees aren’t psychic: People can’t read your mind, and memory is fallible. Tell them how you want things done in a clear manner that they can remember. 

[05:57] Starting point: It can be overwhelming to figure out training priorities. Start with where training is needed the most. 

[09:02] Different procedures for different team members: Everybody–from the receptionist to partner level attorneys–needs training, but it should be tailored to the audience. 

[11:30] The human touch: Even when it’s written down or recorded, training should be presented in-person to maximize effectiveness. 

[15:13] Train. Retrain. Repeat: Training isn’t a one-off. Retraining helps lessons stick and allows errors to be diagnosed and corrected. 

[16:51] Identifying training topics: When mistakes or something new happens, training is typically required. It’s also important to ask people, at every level, what they would like to be trained on. 

[22:58] Quality control: While trial lawyers are often comfortable giving training to their coworkers, it’s not necessarily a strength of everyone in the office. There needs to be quality control to ensure training has the desired outcome. 

[26:29] Train early and often: Training should take place regularly, as soon as a firm has staff members. Waiting too long to start can make bad habits harder to break. 

[27:50] Outside resources: Sometimes, the trainers need training. Outside consultants and resources can provide valuable insights to internal team members. Don’t assume you know everything about everything.

[30:15] Lesson learned?: To get the most out of training, implement a system that can assess whether the lesson imparted is the lesson received so corrections can be made. 

[32:19] Radical candor: Be direct and truthful with people while maintaining respect and compassion for them. 

 

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

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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.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

142 – Ed Ciarimboli – Visuals, Sequencing, and Zoom: Ed Ciarimboli on Trying Cases Post-COVID

Trying cases is an evolving process. And if you’ve been doing the same thing for 25 years, you’ve probably been doing something wrong for the past 24 years. From shorter jury attention spans, to Zooming in experts, to condensing information, and incorporating more visuals, courtroom trial techniques and jury expectations have changed significantly following COVID. 

On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, host Michael Cowen speaks with Ed Ciarimboli, a trial lawyer out of Pennsylvania who’s tried close to 100 cases since the beginning of his career. 

Tune in to hear Ed share how his approach to trials has changed in the post-COVID world and get his tips on how to adapt your trial strategies to “move the needle toward victory.” And how can you overcome the fear of losing cases? Get comfortable with yourself and realize that there are things that you can control and things you can not.

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:  Ed Ciarimboli 

Ed Ciarimboli is a founding partner in the Eastern Pennsylvania law firm of Fellerman & Ciarimboli Law P.C. Ed concentrates his practice on trucking and auto collision and medical malpractice litigation. He is Board Certified by the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys and Board Certified in Truck Accident Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Ed has been selected for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® list every year since 2008.

Ed graduated from Wilkes University with a dual degree in political science and engineering and applied science. He earned his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law. After graduating from law school, Ed served as a law clerk to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Company:  Fellerman & Ciarimboli Law P.C.

Connect:  LinkedIn

Episode Highlights 

[08:36] Learning and evolving: Ed views trying cases as an art where you’re always pushing the envelope and trying new things, some of which will work and some will not. He says that if you’re always doing things the same way, “you’re not learning and evolving.”

[10:31] Getting over fear: Throughout the course of his practice, Ed has learned that a big part of getting over the fear of losing cases or not doing well at trial is accepting that there are things that are in your control and things that are not. 

[12:41] Don’t talk to jurors afterwards: Ed follows the advice once given to him by a judge, which is to never talk to jurors after a case regardless of the outcome.  

[16:51] Take care of yourself first: Ed’s advice on dealing with stress is to take care of yourself first, both mentally and physically.  

[19:34] Using visual summaries: One of the things Ed learned while trying cases during COVID was to condense large volumes of information into visual summaries so that the jury can get all the information they need to make a decision, and to do it quickly, and in a way that leaves an impression. 

[29:44] Zooming into the courtroom: Pre-COVID, Ed rarely used Zoom. Now Zoom is commonplace and jurors expect it, especially with expert witnesses. 

[31:12] Move quickly but not in a hurry: Post-Covid, juror attention spans and trials have gotten shorter. Give the jury the information they need to make a favorable decision and don’t waste their time.

[39:32] Jury selection and masks: Jurors who wear masks can be polarizing and impact the group dynamic of a jury. Both Michael and Ed don’t select jurors who wear a mask.

[41:00] Sharing resources: Ed graciously shares a PowerPoint presentation that he’s done on visual aids.  You can download the presentation here.

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

☑️ Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

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.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

141 – Malorie Peacock – How Michael and Malorie Got a $17.5 Million Verdict in a Tough Case (Part 2)

Trial is not a law school exam.  Just because you can technically put in evidence of certain elements of damages, doesn’t mean it’s in the client’s best interest to do so. It’s up to you–after having the conversation with your client, of course–to make strategic choices on damages. Afterall, the goal is to maximize chances of getting the best possible verdict for your client.

On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, Michael Cowen and Malorie Peacock continue their discussion on how they overcame the odds to win $17.5M in damages for their client in a case against a forklift manufacturer. In this part two of the series, Michael and Malorie share insight on how they told the client’s damages story.  Tune in to learn why they presented the client as a strong superhero, how they found a different story for each of the damages witnesses to tell, why you should use the KING flipchart, and the persuasiveness of the “want ad” technique when asking for compensation. 

To learn more about how Michael and Malorie established liability in the case, listen to part one.

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: Malorie J Peacock

About: Malorie J Peacock is a Partner at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock. She was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. During her time with Cowen Rodriguez Peacock, Malorie has worked on numerous commercial vehicle, trucking, and wrongful death cases. Malorie brings close attention to detail, commitment to finding safety issues and areas of neglect, continued utilization of technology and cutting-edge visuals in cases, along with a sincere passion to help those who have been hurt, to each and every case.

Company: Cowen Rodriguez Peacock

Connect: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights 

[03:30] Catastrophic damages: Malorie explains that the client’s foot was crushed between the forklift and a racking system in a warehouse. The crush to the foot ultimately resulted in a below-knee amputation of the client’s leg. The decision was made to amputate below the knee, as opposed to at the ankle, due to the greater prosthetic options.

[06:41] Splitting 50-50: Michael and Malorie split the entire trial 50-50 and that began with jury selection.  Michael explains that it was critical to have Malorie handle the damages part from the very beginning, including jury selection, since she was going to be asking the jury for money in closing and needed to begin to develop the relationship with the jury. 

[09:47] Presenting damages in opening: On the damages portion of opening, Malorie took a more “factual” approach. Strategically, they wanted to sell the jury on liability before they pressed too hard on damages.

[11:45] Making choices on damages: Michael and Malorie didn’t ask for past medical bills or lost wages. This was a strategic decision to anchor the jury to higher numbers, which ultimately worked in their favor.  Before giving up an element of damages, though, it’s important to have the conversation with your client. 

[18:39] Don’t bore the jury: Malorie shares her approach for getting a different story from each of the damages witnesses.

[20:01] Use the KING flipchart: During trial, Malorie wrote down really great phrases and words from the witnesses that she was able to use for two purposes: to keep the jury interested and to repeat in closing.

[24:24] Client’s social media videos were a goldmine: The client had posted videos of himself on TikTok–such as trying out his new leg and trying to exercise at the gym–which turned out to be very powerful videos that Michael and Malorie used on direct with witnesses. 

[30:00] Saying no: Saying no to some witnesses who wanted to testify was one strategic decision that was key to getting the verdict.

[33:41] The “want ad”: Malorie shares how they came up with a way to ask for the amount of money that would be enough to compensate the client for his loss, but would also be tied to the evidence, make sense, and be persuasive.

[39:17] At the end: Malorie shares that she had a fleeting moment of disappointment because the client didn’t get $38M, an amount she believed the client deserved.  However, the client still got an eight-figure verdict, which was still a great result for him, will help him get the medical care he needs, and help compensate him for the loss that he suffered.

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

☑️ Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

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.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

140 – Maxey Scherr – From Theater to Trial: Maxey Scherr on Starting Strong, Establishing Your Reputation, and Letting Go

Trial lawyers can’t be afraid of failure. It is often by refusing default thinking and defying expectations that a trial lawyer gets the first big win that sets the tone for their career. 

On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, Michael Cowen speaks with Maxey Scherr–a Texas trial lawyer, board certified in truck accident law–who recently started her own law firm and found immediate success with a $10.65M verdict against Swift Transportation. 

Listen to Maxey explain how learning and preparation have been integral to some of her biggest wins, why it’s important for a trial lawyer to have a reputation for trying cases–and how in the end, getting a good result stems from seeing the case through the jury’s eyes and placing your trust in them.

Featured Guest

Name: Maxey Scherr

About:   Maxey Scherr is the founder of the Scherr Law Firm in El Paso, Texas. She has practiced for more than 14 years and has over 40 jury trials resulting in multi-figure verdicts, including a $10.65 million truck accident verdict in the firm’s first trial. Ms. Scherr is Board Certified by the NBTA in Truck Accident Law and is a member of various boards and organizations focused on trucking law. In addition to a law degree from Texas Tech, she earned a bachelor’s in Psychology from UMass-Boston and undertook postgraduate work in Neuroscience at Harvard. 

Company: Scherr Law Firm

Connect: LinkedIn  

Episode Highlights 

[3:54] Blazing new roads: Maxey has attended every ATAA Annual Symposium. She was one of the first woman attorneys to gain board certification in truck accident law and is continually studying and learning to improve her craft. 

[8:46] Theater kid to trial lawyer: Maxey’s background in theater has played a role in her courtroom success by preparing her to confront an audience and face her fears using the methods of psychodrama. 

[10:51] Setting a precedent: A trial lawyer’s reputation is based in part on having a reputation for trying cases. Settling low or quickly sets a standard for future cases, but so does willingness and commitment to trying cases. “If you’re going to accept the case, try it,” says Maxey. 

[17:18] Starting strong: When starting Scherr Law Firm, Maxey brought over a former client who suffered a TBI in a truck accident and, after a $300,000 settlement offer, ended up securing the first eight figure verdict in El Paso since the 1990s.

[24:48] Never TMI about TBI: Brain injuries can be difficult to detect and argue to the defense. But with a background in neuroscience, Maxey stays up to date on the rapidly evolving neurological research field, using the latest findings to counteract the defense’s misrepresentations of these “invisible injuries.”

[37:05] Legal logistics: One of the proudest moments of Maxey’s career came from representing Mexican nationals in a truck accident case against FedEx and a U.S. government contractor that involved cross-border litigation challenges. 

[49:45] Parenting, litigating, and trust: As a mother, Maxey has learned to let go and trust her son to choose his own path–a lesson that has translated to the courtroom and trusting the jury to make the right decision.

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

☑️ Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

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.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

139 – Malorie Peacock – How Michael and Malorie Got a $17.5 Million Verdict in a Tough Case (Part 1)

There’s data going all the way back to the 1970s showing that people have lost a leg while operating a forklift. Not only do these leg crush injuries keep occurring, but it’s the most common injury with a stand-up forklift.  It’s a big problem. However, the industry has been able to avoid having to change anything because they’ve been able to get the standard written to support their design decisions. 

On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, Michael Cowen and Malorie Peacock discuss how they overcame the odds to win $17.5M in damages for their client in a case against a forklift manufacturer.  All this occurred in a case where the defendant said they’d never even pay $100k. 

Tune in to this part one, of a two-part series, as Michael and Malorie discuss how they established liability in the case. What was one of the key winning trial strategies? Not getting sucked into disproving every argument the defense made. 

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: Malorie J. Peacock

About: Malorie J. Peacock is a Partner at Cowen Rodriguez Peacock. She was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. During her time with Cowen Rodriguez Peacock, Malorie has worked on numerous commercial vehicle, trucking, and wrongful death cases. Malorie brings close attention to detail, commitment to finding safety issues and areas of neglect, continued utilization of technology and cutting-edge visuals in cases, along with a sincere passion to help those who have been hurt, to each and every case.

Company: Cowen Rodriguez Peacock

Connect: LinkedIn 

Episode Highlights 

[04:39] Case background: The client operated a stand-up forklift, lost control of the forklift and crashed, resulting in a leg amputation. These types of incidents occur once every eight days, but the industry has been winning trials on defect allegations for decades.  Up until Michael and Malorie’s trial, the forklift industry was undefeated in the 2000s. 

[08:38] Understanding how a forklift works and the problematic design: The forklift is operated standing up, with one foot on a dead man’s pedal, one hand on a lever, and the other on a tiller. Just a minor loss of balance from someone steering a little too hard, or unexpectedly taking their foot off of something, can ultimately result in a crash where a foot gets crushed by a 7,000 pound forklift.

[17:52] Three data sources on injuries: There were incident reports (limited details), an OSHA database (type of injury/equipment but no manufacturer info), and another manufacturer’s data (revealed percentage of injuries). Additionally, one study showed 474 injuries and recommended a door for forklifts.

[21:34] Random test v. peer-reviewed study: Michael and Malorie discuss how they taught the jury the difference and why it mattered in this case. 

[36:35] The case was complicated, but strategic decisions made the difference: The client was not properly trained and the employer’s negligence was not considered. However, blaming the client would be unfair, and the focus should be on fixing the design. The defense argued about certification requirements, but it was better, strategically, to embrace the lack of training. Winning the case was a close call.

[40:08] Revealing the truth: Michael and Malorie share why it is essential to read defense cited literature, and how doing so made a difference in their case.

[46:13] Two ways to solve the problem: Michael and Malorie offered two alternative designs to the jury–a door or a seat with a seat belt. 

[51:38] Most jurors aren’t familiar with forklifts, so visuals were key: Michael and Malorie used visuals to make things simple–annotated photographs and videos.  They tried to use two life-sized forklift compartments—one the way it was and one with a seatbelt, but they wouldn’t fit through the courtroom door. Lesson learned!

[59:17] Preview of part-two: On part-two of this series, Michael and Malorie will discuss damages and how they made it a story–not just about despair–but also a story about love, hope, striving, and overcoming.

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

☑️ Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

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.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.