“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”
--- Proverbs 25:15
“Persuasion is clearly a sort of demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when we
consider a thing to have been demonstrated.”
--- Aristotle, Discourse on
This chapter will equip you to:
what is most important to your case and its successful conclusion
the importance of logic, emotion and credibility
the rule of first impression and it’s importance to your success
the principles of persuasion
There are two critical elements in the successful presentation of any case in court. The
first has to do with the substance of the argument and the claim; does the evidence support the argument and
is the claimant entitled to what he is seeking? These are the nuts and bolts of your case and much of the
rest of this book will focus on these things to equip you to manage your case through the legal system to a
successful outcome. But, the second element – persuasion – is at least as important as the first, and while
we will spend the rest of this chapter discussing what it is and isn’t, you won’t hear one word about where
to find more of it.
That’s because persuasion is a skill that you have to discover – and develop – from within
Persuasion is the single most important element you must provide in presenting your case.
With or without lots of solid evidence and testimony, if you succeed in persuading the judge or jury, you
will win your case. Likewise, if you are unpersuasive in your presentation – even if you’re case is woven
through with heavy cords of undisputed evidence – you will surely lose.
Facts don’t just speak for themselves. The evidence in any trial needs a champion or
advocate to convince the jury or judge. It isn’t just the facts, but the person behind the facts that
Almost 3,000 years ago, Aristotle, reduced the principles of argument and persuasion to
their three core elements in his discourse On Rhetoric:
- Logos (logic, evidence)
- Pathos (emotion)
- Ethos (credibility, believability)
These are the tools the advocate uses to cause the judge or jury to find in their favor.
Since judges and juries base their verdicts on perceptions of reality, the litigant must create those
perceptions in their minds. How?
The skilled advocate can create word pictures in the minds of the judge and jury through
the use of storytelling and logical language - building solid evidence line upon line leading to an
inescapable conclusion. So the auto accident which has interrupted a students’ education becomes a story of
a dream delayed. Using storytelling techniques, evidence and facts come to life and take on extra
importance. So the rear end accident with an aggravated neck sprain taking two months to heal becomes more
important because the dream of finishing college in four years has been lost. College will take an extra