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Gus Brown Lectures at ATLA Case Workshop -- Helps Train Trial Lawyers in Their Craft

In September 2005, Brown, Brown & Young principal Augustus F. (Gus) Brown again served as a faculty member for an American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA) Case Workshop Program.

Held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the Omni William Penn Hotel, the 4-day workshop offered an opportunity for attorneys to bring real cases from their practices (generally ones that have not yet gone to trial), present them to several different focus groups (including "typical juries") and to see how typical jurors or members of the court would react to their presentation effectiveness, tactical effectiveness, choice and coverage of evidence, and other real-life issues.

The workshop was limited to 16 highly-experienced trial attorneys from around the country. All cases studied in the program were injury cases, and included medical malpractice cases, products liability cases and fatal vehicle and tractor-trailer collision cases.

Brown and seven other attorney faculty members demonstrated how to present such cases to a jury, lectured on some of the intricacies frequently encountered, facilitated focus group deliberations and discussions, and more. Of particular interest was the faculty's recommendations to the attorneys of alternative methods of presenting and ordering their evidence for each case. "We helped them explore the key issues, pinpoint their strategic strengths while dealing with potential weaknesses, and develop their stories," says Brown. "This includes how-tos on visual storytelling, how to demonstrate themes, and how to best present issues of liability and damages. It's just four days, but they are completely full and quite intense!"

Topics covered by Brown and his fellow instructors included:

  • How to talk and listen to jurors;
  • The weaknesses in your case -- and how to eliminate them;
  • What strategies the opposition may use -- and your best responses;
  • How to develop themes and what themes to use in your case;
  • How to present cases to focus groups -- and what to do with the results.

The program also featured professional trial consultants (including psychologists, actors, personal performance instructors, investigators and the like) who heard the presentations and gave extremely specific feedback to the attorneys.

According to one attorney, the experience of "learning the weaknesses of my cases . . . listening to the jury talk about things I have not thought about... was very enlightening."

ATLA is very proud of its Case Workshop Program, stating that "the civil justice system, trial by jury, and the rights of Americans who have been injured through no fault of their own continues to be under attack. It is more important than ever that [lawyers] prepare to fight back for [their] clients against the misinformation and tort deform campaigns.

As Brown says, "If you really want to learn -- teach. If you really want to teach, do it when the students are already some of the best in their profession."

In addition Brown, the ATLA Faculty for this Case Workshop included Robert W. Bailey III, Sonia Chopra, Ph.D, R. Eddie Davidson, Carrie Frank, Robert Gerchen, Patricia F. Kuehn, J.D., M.A., Steven C. Laird, Lin S. Lilley, Ph.D., Howard L. Nations, Kelly E. Naylor, Ph.D, Eric G. Oliver, Martin Q. Peterson, Ph.D., Paul J. Scoptur, Jacob Vigil, Rhonda Hill Wilson and Diane Wyzga, R.N., J.D.

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