Perspectives on Advocacy - Frank, Straightforward & Relevant Tips |

Perspectives on Advocacy - Frank, Straightforward & Relevant Tips

Paula Puddy, HBA LLB MBA

Dermot Nolan, a 40+ year litigator (and former actor with the Stratford Shakespearean Festival), shares important and straightforward reminders about succeeding in court.

Dermot comments, "It’s not about you! It’s about them! It’s about the audience, the judge, the jury, whoever it is you are trying to persuade!"

In Dermot's opinion, the foundation stones of effective advocacy are:

  1. Believing in what you are saying.
  2. Listening to what you are saying.

"Believe in what you are saying" means to be credible. Every judge and juror has a natural, built-in "bullshit" detector. If it goes off, comments Dermot, it is "gameover"!

Litigators primarily forget to listen to what they are saying. Dermot emphasizes that "It’s not about what you are saying! It’s about what they are hearing!"

For example, everyone has sent a text or email that was completely misunderstood. We focus so much on writing the message that we forget to consider how the recipient reads or receives the message. In court, you have the benefit of hearing the tone of the judge, or reading the body language of the jury.

Dermot shares additional tips to "aid" the decision-makers:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Know yourself
  3. Be yourself
  4. Empower your audience [to make decisions]
  5. Be creative
  6. Control the narrative
  7. Keep it simple
  8. Be disciplined
  9. Respect the audience
  10. Use words, not technology

Towards the end of his presentation, Dermot reminds us that "being a lawyer is a timeless and honourable calling which we are all privileged to undertake". Important advice to remember in our busy lives.

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