Overwhelmed by Rhetoric

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“Four legs good, two legs better! All Animals Are Equal. But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.”
― George OrwellAnimal Farm

As lawyers it is easy to fall in love with our words. We live and die by the pen. But when it comes to building a great case, I’ve been told that it is best to take out all of the superfluous rhetoric, all of the editorial comment (opinion), and instead focus on the facts.

When focusing on the facts ask yourself: “is there another way to look at the evidence?”And from there develop key phrases.

A great example comes from a lawsuit involving a swimming pool. Many years ago a young boy was in a city pool that suddenly went from shallow water to deep water. After crossing from the shallow end to the deep end, he drowned to death. The lawyer defending the city called the divide in the pool “the safety ledge”. This phrase was so powerful that despite the negligent design, the city was found not liable. And the ledge was considered a safety feature (a death trap by today’s standards).

When used properly, in conjunction with the facts, word choice can define a case. No one forgets the beautiful saying “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

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