At Holocene, we make witness preparation a major focus of our work because good arguments and a favorable jury will rarely save a case from being ruined by ineffective or bad testimony. Sometimes, particularly with corporate representatives and occasionally experts, the stakes are higher than any one case because “the record is forever” and even one serious misstep at deposition or trial can haunt you for a long time.
We are especially adept at helping trial counsel make headway with witnesses who have proved difficult to work with, whether they’re stubborn and irascible, bore you to tears, or have difficulty navigating cross-cultural boundaries.
In particular, we have very deep experience working with foreign witnesses who speak English as a second language and have trouble communicating to an American audience. We’ve worked with witnesses from Australia, England, China, France, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, and Taiwan.
Our approach to witness preparation focuses on four crucial things:
- Helping the witness understand the role that he or she plays in the case
- Figuring out how to help the witness tell the story in his or her own voice without scripts, cues, or outlines
- Helping the witness and the attorney conducting direct examination work together more easily and effectively
- Arming the witness with a set of tools to rely on when facing difficult questioning under cross examination
Although we get many of our witness prep calls after a deposition gone wrong, we rountinely do work at every stage of litigation:
- Helping inside and outside counsel audition and select a good corporate representative during or in preparation for serial litigation
- Helping witnesses prepare for deposition, whether they’re seasoned testifiers or first-timers
- Preparing witnesses for trial, either in advance or during the trial itself
- Working with witnesses after trial– sometimes with the aid of post-trial juror interviews– to help them understand what they did well and where they can improve