When it comes to advocacy there are certain rules that are mandatory and must be observed. The consequences of forgetting these rules or not giving them proper credence can be severe, so it is important to have a solid understanding of them.
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First, it is best to avoid arguments and stick to the facts. This rule is not ambiguous; it means simply what it says. It can be particularly important when you are presenting an opening statement during a trial. Only during the closing argument are you allowed to argue and present the opportunity for factfinders to draw inferences. In the beginning, you will only be allowed to introduce evidence that is relevant and essentially tell the factfinders what it is that you hope to prove. Take great care speaking about anything you might be later prevented from proving. It might seem as though it would be limiting to be forced to stick to the facts, but that is not the case. You can still be creative and imaginative; creating a story that will draw in your factfinders and invite them to take the journey with you.
As an advocate, you must never appear to be providing evidence on your own. Testimony must come from the witness stand–it must never come from you as the advocate of the client.
When it comes to your closing argument, only speak of things that have actually been touched upon in evidence. While you can certainly discuss any item that is common knowledge, e.g., you may refer to historical events and characters or to characters from television programs or literature. If, however, you wish to discuss anything else, you must make certain that you actually did prove it before you refer to it in the summation.
To learn more about advocacy and the best techniques to win others over to your issue, consider The Capitol Learning Audio Course, Effectively Using Persuasion in your Oral Presentations: A Trial Lawyer’s Perspective, or this 1-day workshop, Effective Briefings, the Art of Persuasion.
Reference: Common Sense Rules of Advocacy for Lawyers, by Keith Evans, Chapter 3 The Mandatory Rules of Advocacy
For more information about becoming a better advocate, see these resources from TheCapitol.Net:
- Common Sense Rules of Advocacy for Lawyers, by Keith Evans
- Persuading Congress, by Joseph Gibson
- Live courses in Washington, DC:
- Capitol Learning Audio Courses: