Jamie Oliver, a chef and a child advocate focused on ensuring kids receive proper nutrition through their school lunch programs as well as at home, has a television show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, showing how he changes eating habits in school districts (this season he is in Los Angeles).  In each episode, he creates a visual showing the terrible foods kids are putting in their bodies.  It’s one thing to tell kids (or their parents) that fast food and processed food is bad for them, it is quite another to create a visual showing how bad it is, and creating such a powerful visual that it convinces those kids, their parents and the audience watching the show (including myself) how bad those foods are.  In a recent episode, he filled a family’s house with all the fast food they consume in a year.  Every square inch of furniture and floor was covered.  In another episode, he filled a school bus with sugar to show how much sugar the school board permitted in the kids lunch meals over a year.  It was powerful images like those that made folks change their minds and change their behavior.

When preparing for trial, we can take a page out of Jamie’s book, and think about what visuals (whether a photograph, a diagram, an animation, or some other representation) that encapsulates our theme and does so in such a powerful manner that the image we create carries through the trial, into the deliberation room and turns the jurors’ hearts and minds toward our view-point and toward our position.  Keep a file folder in your office drawer where you include pictures, images and ideas you clip from magazines and newspapers.  These images may later serve you at trial.

Being that it is Monday, my partner Craig Salner has his weekly tip for young lawyers.  This week he discusses the importance of getting involved with social networking.  You can find his post at http://csalner.wordpress.com/.

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An Expert's File

Posted on November 11, 2011 08:02 by Francisco Ramos Jr

 

Assume everything you write or e-mail an expert will be discoverable.  Even if you can somehow keep it from being discovered, you will probably spend your time and the client’s money to keep it confidential.  With that in mind, before you send anything to an expert ask yourself whether you would have a problem with the other side seeing it.  If so, think long and hard before sending it.  Also, folks have become too casual in what they include in e-mails, and I’ve found this true with experts, particularly their staff.  So try to avoid e-mailing experts and their offices whenever possible, sticking to phone calls and faxes when possible.  And ask them not to e-mail you.  Yes, it is less convenient, but it will help ensure that the experts don’t make errant comments that become part of their permanent file (which at some point will likely have to be produced to the other side).

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Show, Don't Tell

Posted on November 8, 2011 09:39 by Francisco Ramos Jr

In the movie, Super 8, JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg do a great job in showing us, not simply telling us.  The opening scene is a mill worker removing the numbers 784 from a sign which reads “784 days since our last accident” and replacing it with the number “1.”  The audience knows an accident has occurred, likely a tragic one (since it is hard to believe that no one has suffered any scrapes or bruises or pulled muscles throughout the entire plant for over 2 years). ”Something happened,” you’re thinking to yourself, “and it was bad.”  The movie then cuts to a scene in a boy dressed in his Sunday’s best, sitting in the swing in his yard, ankle-deep in snow.  And then you’re like, “poor kid.  He lost someone.”  The makers of the film could have started with a narrative – “hey audience, there’s been a bad accident at the mill and it affects this boy.”   Yawn.  Instead, they show us, they don’t tell us.  And by showing us, their message is so much more effective.

When trying to persuade others, whether in a motion, at a hearing or at trial, try to paint pictures with your words.  Create images to show your audience your point. Don’t be satisfied by simply telling them.  Show them.  You could tell the jury that a witness was not at a good vantage point to see the accident.  Or you can create an image of how little he could see what was going on, showing the jury that he couldn’t have possibly seen what happened.  Think about how and when you can show more, versus simply telling, to make your advocacy more compelling, more dynamic and make yourself more of a storyteller.  

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Those Guys Have All the Fun

Posted on October 24, 2011 03:22 by Francisco Ramos Jr

I’m working through a fascinating tome on the birth and history of ESPN, Those Guys Have All the Fun – Inside the World of ESPN.  Besides giving us an inside look at ESPN, which started from nowhere and was broadcasting from what some would say nowhere (no offense to Bristol, Connecticut, which I’m sure is a lovely town), the book provides us a sense of what goes into turning a great idea into reality.  The first lesson I took from the book is that a great idea is not enough. 

In 1978, Bill Rasmussen had a dream for an all sports channel, and with $9,000 he put on his credit card and some money he squeezed from family members, he sought out investors.  Eventually he landed a huge one and ESPN was on its way.  Unfortunately, his big idea was not enough.  All the hours he and his family poured into the venture was not enough.  Even the money wasn’t enough. What he lacked was a coherent, detailed long-term plan that projected how ESPN would succeed.  Others would come work for the company. Those who had a plan.  Ones who could see Bill’s vision, who understood you needed more than just a vision and who created a plan to implement it.  And along the way, Bill lost control, became what some would say ”irrelevant” and was eventually bought out.  His idea wasn’t his anymore.  His dreams had become someone else’s.  And that was it.  A brilliant man was pushed out.  Unfortunately for Bill he was missing the plan - details big and small – and eventually he got in the way of his dream.  ESPN appeared to have outgrown him.

Whether it is planning for a case, leading an organization or figuring out your life, yes, you need the big ideas.  Without Bill, there may never have been an ESPN.  And yes, you need the hard work.  And sometimes, you’ll need capital too.  But those ingredients don’t work unless you know where you’re going and have figured out how best to get there.  That means both big picture and little picture. That means understanding and knowing the “business” of whatever you are doing.  Figuring it out as you go along isn’t good enough.  See where it got Bill. 

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In Those Guys Have All the Fun – Inside the World of ESPN, we learn that George Bodenheimer, who would become President of ESPN, started as a driver for the company.  George applied for a job as a driver in 1980, where he was asked if he would mind shoveling snow.  His response – “Not if you tell me where you keep the shovel.”   At the time, George was a college graduate with an economics degree. While he was waiting to hear back from ESPN, he had dinner with his dad who told him, “If you think the sports-television business would be a good career, then if they call you, you should accept the job.  It doesn’t matter what the pay is or what the job is.  You should make a career decision, not a money decision.”

Young lawyers need to make decisions that are career-driven, not-money driven. Look for firms that are headed by experienced, ethical attorneys where you will get real world experience sooner than later.  Firms where you have opportunities to attend hearings, take depositions, interview witnesses and interact with clients. These jobs generally are at smaller firms, and these jobs generally pay less than the big firms.  But if you want to grow as an attorney and acquire the experience you crave, take George’s dad’s advice and “make a career decision, not a money decision.”

Read more by Frank Ramos on his blog, Tips for Young Lawyers.

 

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Categories: Young Lawyers

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In the new movie, Super 8, JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg do a great job in showing us, not simply telling us.  The opening scene is a mill worker removing the numbers 784 from a sign which reads “784 days since our last accident” and replacing it with the number “1.”  The audience knows an accident has occurred, likely a tragic one (since it’s hard to believe that no one has suffered any scrapes or bruises or pulled muscles throughout the entire plant for over 2 years). ”Something happened,” you’re thinking to yourself, “and it was bad.”  The movie then cuts to a scene in a boy dressed in his Sunday’s best, sitting in the swing in his yard, ankle-deep in snow.  And then you’re like, “Poor kid.  He lost someone.”  The makers of the film could have started with a narrative – “Hey audience, there’s been a bad accident at the mill and it affects this boy.”   Yawn.  Instead, they show us, they don’t tell us.  And by showing us, their message is so much more effective.

When trying to persuade others, whether in a motion, at a hearing or at trial, try to paint pictures with your words.  Create images to show your audience your point. Don’t be satisfied by simply telling them.  Show them.  You could tell the jury that a witness was not at a good vantage point to see the accident.  Or you can create an image of how little he could see what was going on, showing the jury that he couldn’t have possibly seen what happened.  Think about how and when you can show more, versus simply telling, to make your advocacy more compelling, more dynamic and make yourself more of a storyteller. 

Read more by Frank Ramos on his blog, Tips for Young Lawyers.

 

 

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Categories: Young Lawyers

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Assume everything you write or e-mail an expert will be discoverable.  Even if you can somehow keep it from being discovered, you will probably spend your time and the client’s money to keep it confidential.  With that in mind, before you send anything to an expert ask yourself whether you would have a problem with the other side seeing it.  If so, think long and hard before sending it.  Also, folks have become too casual in what they include in e-mails, and I’ve found this true with experts, particularly their staff.  So try to avoid e-mailing experts and their offices whenever possible, sticking to phone calls and faxes when possible.  And ask them not to e-mail you.  Yes, it is less convenient, but it will help ensure that the experts don’t make errant comments that become part of their permanent file (which at some point will likely have to be produced to the other side).

Read more by Frank Ramos on his blog, Tips for Young Lawyers.

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Categories: Young Lawyers

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Investigating An Auto Accident Case

Posted on March 15, 2010 08:37 by Francisco Ramos Jr

With advances in technology, there is more and more information out there relevant to your auto case. Some of the following may help you build your case or undermine your opponent’s:

Sun Pass. Based on the tolls paid, you can find out where a vehicle was on the day it was involved in the accident.

Cell records: Was the driver on the phone at the time of the accident? Who was he talking to? After the accident, whom did he call? He may have made admissions about the accident.

Text messages and e-mails: Instead of calling someone, the driver may have been sending a text message or an e-mail. Being on the phone is distracting. Typing on your phone is so much more distracting.

Traffic reports: Reports reflecting lane closures or accidents may give an indication of the flow of traffic at the time of an auto accident. The traffic conditions may make a claim of a speeding vehicle preposterous.

Video footage: There may be footage of the accident, particularly if it happened during rush hour, where the traffic helicopter may have caught your accident on video.

Black box. Some vehicles have "black boxes" that preserve information at the time of the accident, such as the speed of the vehicle. The parties can enter into an agreement to secure the black boxes from the vehicles involved in the accident and have them analyzed by mutually agreed upon experts.

Aerial shots: An aerial shot of the accident scene may prove helpful. Google Earth is a good source for such a photograph.

GPS. Were the drivers using GPS, such as Garmin or Magellan? Were they using an online service like Onstar? There may be information about the driver’s route.


The police report is a good start when investigating a car accident case, but it is only a start. There are so many other avenues to pursue when investigating who caused the accident.

Francisco Ramos is a partner at Clarke Silverglate Campbell in Miami where he can be reached at framos@csclawfirm.com or 305.347.1544.

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Categories: Evidence

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Getting the Other Side’s Attention

Posted on March 11, 2010 09:54 by Francisco Ramos Jr

Generally, scheduling a hearing or deposition takes little more than a call by one’s legal assistant to opposing counsel’s legal assistant. There are times, however, that those calls go unreturned. Despite your assistant’s best efforts, no dates are provided and hearings and depositions remain to be set. How do you handle this situation? Consider the following:

Reach out and touch someone. At the commencement of any case, consider picking up the phone and introducing yourself to opposing counsel. Have a pleasant chat and lay the foundation for cooperation during the course of the upcoming litigation. Such calls help ensure that your office’s requests for dates do not go unanswered. More...


Categories: Law Practice Management

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Setting Depositions - All At Once

Posted on February 18, 2010 04:41 by Francisco Ramos Jr

When tackling your next case consider setting all your depositions at once. When you first sit down with the case, decide what depositions you need to take, in what order you want to take them and coordinate all of them with opposing counsel in a single phone call. Do not wait to take a deposition before setting the next one, and do not wait on taking the next one before setting the one after that. Instead, schedule all your depositions as soon as you know who the witnesses are. Set them out far enough so you have time to receive responses to your written discovery and procure third party records. Spread them out enough so you have enough time after finishing each to prepare for the next one. This way, once the depositions start, you will have them all lined up, in the order you want, on the date and time and at the location you want.

You can see there are several benefits of setting your depositions in this manner:

You set the agenda. By coordinating the depositions, you set the agenda and drive the case on your terms.

Motions for continuance become obsolete. If you schedule all your depositions at the beginning of the case, even if they are set months later, the odds are you will be able to conduct your discovery on a timely basis and avoid seeking leave for a continuance of the trial date.

Unavailability becomes a thing of the past. How often do you hear that opposing counsel’s first date of availability is weeks, sometimes, months away? By setting the depositions at the beginning of the case, opposing counsel’s tight schedule should not create problems in timely completing discovery.

Shows you mean business. By taking charge, you show the other side you are committed to litigating a case and trying it if necessary.

Problems can be dealt with early. What about the witness you cannot find? What about the witness who is in poor health? These issues are easier to deal with if you are not staring at discovery deadlines.

More likely to preserve important testimony. The longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of not capturing important witness testimony. Memories fade. Witnesses move away. They get sick. Sometimes they die. By scheduling your depositions as soon as possible, you preserve favorable testimony.

Setting all your depositions at once is not appropriate for every case. First, your client may not want to incur the expense. Second, you may not want to telegraph to the other side all the witnesses you think are important. However, it is an approach worth considering.

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Categories: Trial Preparation

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