By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Pick a trial venue in the United States, grab the average citizen who shows up for jury duty and put them next to the average attorney: What will stand out most immediately are the differences. Comparing education, social class, linguistic ability, habits, and a bevy of other qualities, you might think you're looking at two different species. Those differences, combined with a broad cultural disparagement of lawyers, can invite a juror's perception that the lawyers in front of them in court are distant, arrogant, elitist, and condescending. To get past that, advocates need to break out of that constructed image of the "lawyer," and to instead cultivate an image of a "human being." We would like to think that this comes naturally, but the advice to "Just be yourself" can fall flat when there are so many real and perceived differences between the "yourself" and the "themselves."
As a result of this separation, attorneys should think carefully about the steps that might help to break down the barriers. Trial lawyers should make a conscious effort to humanize themselves in front of the jury. There is no formula or single magic-button approach to doing that, and any good advice in this area could be taken to the point where it seems forced or corny. But there are some effective habits that good trial lawyers should internalize and apply intelligently, but consistently, in order to present a more complete and human persona to the jury. Here are my thoughts on seven ways.