Opening Statements – Closing Arguments

by Ronald J. Matlon, Ph.D.

To do well in court, you must be a master of persuasive communication. But what is truly effective in persuading judges and juries in the courtroom? This handbook provides many answers to that question. It summarizes applicable research in communication and social psychology and gives sound advice on content, structure and presentation of opening statements and closing arguments designed to take advantage of primacy and recency effects. The author shares his years of experience working side by side with legal counsel in a variety of cases as a legal communications consultant to help attorneys – plaintiff lawyers, prosecutors, defense counsel – to be more effective and persuasive in the courtroom. An “easy read” of useful and concrete suggestions, the practices recommended in this handbook can be put to immediate use by trial attorneys.


WHY BUY THIS BOOK?

It is easy to dismiss the psychological and motivational dimensions of your trial, and your adversaries will gain an important advantage over you if you do. But in order for you to persuade (cause an attitude shift toward your position), you must involve your audience in attitude change. Instilling attitude change begins at the earliest points of trial and doesn’t end until the deliberation doors are closed. There is no recess from persuasion during a trial – it is an ongoing process. This book focuses on two key aspects of juror persuasion -- opening statements and closing arguments.


WHAT DOES THIS BOOK COVER?

The book help trials attorneys to:

  • Develop effective trial themes and storylines
  • Construct more powerful and persuasive opening statements
  • Use presentation techniques to enhance persuasion
  • Understand the boundaries for closing arguments
  • Take advantage of the recency effect in closing arguments
  • Use emotional appeals effectively without going overboard
  • Focus on compelling language and delivery


WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE BOOK

“Masterful! Matlon blends academic research and professional experience to teach us how to effectively craft and deliver opening statements and closing arguments. His lessons are a gift for lawyers who seek to improve their advocacy.”

-Paul Mark Sandler, Esquire
Shapiro Sher Guinot & Sandler
Baltimore, MD

“Ron Matlon tells lawyers what it means to communicate with a jury and how to do it. His book is a wealth of helpful ideas. Every lawyer should read it before going to trial.”

-Jerry O’Neill, J.D.
O’Neill Kellner & Green
Burlington, VT

“If you want to deliver a good opening, don’t bother to read this book. However, if you want to deliver a great opening based on sound, trial-tested advice from one of the profession’s originators, read this book. Then read it again. Ron Matlon’s advice is directly on point!”

-Karen Lisko, Ph.D., Senior Litigation Consultant
Persuasion Strategies
Denver, CO

“Lawyers who believe the evidence is the story don’t understand the critical nature of how they open and close the case. Matlon’s focus on theme, structure, and delivery hit the mark on what it takes to pull together what witnesses individually cannot accomplish. Matlon takes it from big picture goals down to the selection of words.”

-Paul M. Lisnek, J.D., Ph.D.
Author, Legal Analyst, TV and Radio Anchor
National Lecturer on Trial and Litigation Skills
Chicago, IL

“Ron Matlon’s second edition is an essential text for the novice as well as the experienced advocate. The novice advocate will quickly benefit from Matlon’s clear and practical advice. The experienced advocate will benefit from use of the end-of-chapter recommendations as a checklist to tighten up and polish current practices.”

-Chris Dominic
President and Senior Consultant, Tsongas Litigation Consulting, Inc.
Portland, OR

“Ron Matlon’s advice is practical and easy to apply. By reading his book and using his insight and research, you will be more credible and persuasive – a better advocate.”

-Alan B. Parker, J.D.
Reminger Law Offices
Cleveland, OH

BOOK DETAILS

Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-0977751136
PAGES: 104
COVER: Soft
SIZE: 5.25" x 8"
EDITION: Second (2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ronald J. Matlon

Ronald J. Matlon is one of the nation’s leading authorities on courtroom communication. He is currently CEO and Senior Litigation Consultant with Matlon & Associates, a litigation consulting firm based in Maryland and a past president of the American Society of Trial Consultants. His credentials also include university teaching and department chairmanship. As a consultant, Dr. Matlon has worked on hundreds of civil, criminal and commercial cases in the areas of jury selection, witness preparation, mock trial/focus group studies, and case strategy and analysis. He has authored six books, including Communication in the Legal Process and Communication Strategies in the Practice of Lawyering, and he has appeared before bar associations and legal organizations to teach seminars and workshops on litigation persuasion.