DiscoverMay the Record Reflect19: Upleveling Your Oral Advocacy Skills, with Hon. Nancy Vaidik and Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla
19: Upleveling Your Oral Advocacy Skills, with Hon. Nancy Vaidik and Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla

19: Upleveling Your Oral Advocacy Skills, with Hon. Nancy Vaidik and Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla

Update: 2021-06-01
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In Episode 19 of May the Record Reflect, Judge Nancy Vaidik of the Indiana Court of Appeals and international communications consultant Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla, are in the hot seat to share insights from their new book, Point Well Made, Persuasive Oral Advocacy. They reveal why oral advocacy still matters in a time when most cases settle before going to trial, how to better know your judge to give yourself a leg up, and what are the highs and lows of ruling from the Zoom bench.  

 

Topics

3:56     A learning-by-doing book for oral advocacy
6:45     Writing process as co-authors writing remotely
9:05     Why trial lawyers should care about oral advocacy
11:16   Oral versus written advocacy
13:17   Oral advocacy in persuasion
16:02   What judges are looking forward to in a proceeding
21:24   What to know about your judge
23:45   Relationships you need to know about
27:45   Appearing before a multi-judge panel
30:03   Why rebuttal matters
31:31   Judge Vaidik’s experience with remote advocacy
35:32   “Soft” things lost in remote hearings
40:06   Communication needs that have changed during the pandemic
42:25   Signature signoff question

 

Quotes

“Oral advocacy is a lot different from written advocacy and our law schools are focusing on written advocacy and not on oral advocacy, and there are differences. In oral advocacy, as an advocate, you can actually listen to the judge’s concerns—or whoever you’re talking to, the listener’s concerns – and adapt your argument. You can’t do that in a written setting. In an oral setting, however, you need to keep attention, the attention of the listener. And in a written advocacy situation, that’s not so much the case because when the reader loses focus, they can go back and re-read the material. You can’t do that in oral advocacy situation.” (Judge Nancy Vaidik)

“Judges are people too, and so they’re not immune to the digital age and the lower attention span and the need for people to get to the point and say it clearly, concisely, thematically. All those things are super important, and so old-style argument is not going to be as effective. You have to take into account the digital age and the judges who are going to be listening, especially as younger and younger judges get appointed to the courts. It’s so important to adapt the way we approach oral argument in front of one or multiple judges.” (Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla)

 

Recommended Resources

Point Well Made: Persuasive Oral Advocacy (book)

Hon. Nancy Vaidik (bio)

Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla (bio)

Foolproof: The Art of Communication for Lawyers and Professionals, Second Edition (book) 

Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla’s “Foolproof” Tips for Professional Communication (podcast)

Delivering a (Last-Minute) Point Well Made (webcast)

 
Read NITA’s statement on the important of in-person advocacy in courts, 

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19: Upleveling Your Oral Advocacy Skills, with Hon. Nancy Vaidik and Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla

19: Upleveling Your Oral Advocacy Skills, with Hon. Nancy Vaidik and Rebecca Diaz-Bonilla

National Institute for Trial Advocacy