By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
It's said that there's a story hiding in every case. And sometimes, depending on the attorney's style and habits, that story can be hiding pretty darned well. An emphasis on presenting based on accumulated facts within a topical division of issues -- a style taught in law school and prized in briefing -- can end up submerging the basic story at the heart of the case. Even when a timeline is used, the key hallmarks of scene, character, and plot that distinguish a simple sequence from a story are often missing. In the continuous stream of facts, dates, documents, and data, the central chunks or chapters of a story can also be buried.
Whether the case is complex or simple, all litigators face the challenge of finding and conveying their case story. In encouraging trial lawyers to take that step, I'm inspired by a method shared by my colleague, Dr. Kevin Boully. What he does early on in his work on a case is to use his notes to boil down the central narrative into a very quick three or four sentence story. Supplying my own take on that, I would like to use this post to propose a simple Q & A format -- a worksheet of sorts -- for lawyers to use in arriving at their own simple story at the core of their case.