The Kern County Paralegal Association’s May luncheon featured Brian Panish, trial attorney and partner of Panish, Shea & Boyle, and the 2010 California American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Trial Lawyer of the Year. Introduced by both David Cohn of Chain Cohn Stiles and Warren Paboojian of Baradat & Paboojian, Panish began his presentation acknowledging and thanking paralegals for all their efforts and hard work and “for making lawyers look good.”
With a stellar career consisting of 100 verdicts and settlements in excess of one million dollars, and 14 verdicts in excess of 10 million dollars, Panish shared his thoughts and ideas on trying cases to the new juror, i.e., the Millennial or Generation X juror. He shared the following tips that he called the “Tools of the Trade”:
• Interactive Graphics
• Powerful Story Themes
• Bring the Event to Life
• Powerful Photographs
Today’s jurors are inundated with information and they want their information instantaneously, and that is the biggest difference in trying a case in front of the “new juror.” Whatever the case, Panish says, it’s important to captivate the jury. What better way than interactive graphics to captivate and to deliver a visual and instantaneous message.
After sharing several great stories about some of his most successful cases, and even using the Gerry Spence line from the famous Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee matter, Panish illustrated the importance of having a powerful story theme. He believes that it’s not the greatest lawyer who wins the case but the best story. In the Silkwood case, he says, Gerry Spence interchanged the deadly plutonium that Karen Silkwood was exposed to with a vicious tiger. He repeatedly came back to that theme and repeated to the jury, “If the tiger gets away, Kerr-McGee must pay.” Well, of course, Kerr-McGee did pay.
Panish also stressed the value of bringing the event to life. He played a chilling 911 call at an accident scene and the last radio transmission of a passenger jet before it crashed. It had quite an impact on the KCPA audience. One can only imagine the impact to a jury.
Photographs can also be a powerful tool, Panish says. He cautioned not to overuse them, though, as it may desensitize a jury. He said to use a disturbing photograph sparingly for more impact.
He believes that the most important tool of all, though, is passion. After all, he says, juries gravitate to the better story so you better be passionate about delivering the story. He played a video of a passionate closing argument by an attorney in a high profile case to illustrate his point. Passion is definitely the hammer in the Panish toolbox.
In closing, the audience was captivated by Panish’s stories and presentation. They laughed, they cried, they winced, they shuttered. Panish definitely brought his tool box out to bring these stories to life. This was a great presentation. Thank you, Kern County Paralegal Association, and thank you, Brian Panish.