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Rowley and Wilson: Real-World Trials & Tactics


"How to try... and win... the tough cases."

Legendary trial attorney Nick Rowley calls them the "tough cases:" the low-speed crash suits, the slip-and-falls, the soft-tissue injuries. They're the cases that nearly every trial lawyer works at some point. And Rowley says trying, and winning, those cases is the foundation for success throughout your courtroom career.  

Rowley and Joseph Wilson, one of Georgia's leading attorneys, dissected one of those "tough cases:" Wilson’s $584,000 win against Loomis Armored for the shattered arm a young nursing aide suffered in a 2018 crash at an Atlanta intersection.

Using real trial video, the pair outlined a veritable roadmap of best practices on those “tough cases” they say must be tried in the face of low-ball settlement offers. It's a webinar deep dive into the techniques that win verdicts in everything from those tough car crash trials to headline-grabbing blockbusters. 

You can join that deep dive, on demand. Simply click the play button below to watch the whole 3-hour analysis, or use our index of topics to skip directly to any one of the issues they discuss, from approaching voir dire to setting up damages in closings.

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Rowley and Wilson: Real-World Trials & Real-World Tactics

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Rowley-lpNick Rowley

Rowley, a partner at California's Carpenter Zuckerman and Rowley, and founder of Trial Lawyers for Justice, is widely regarded as one of the nation's top trial attorneys, winning more than $1.5 billion in verdicts over his career. Named the 2018 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, Rowley's notable wins include a $10.5 million post-verdict settlement for the brain damage a high school student suffered at a pep rally and an $8.4 million verdict for the family of a Vietnamese immigrant killed in a California crash.

 


JL-Wilson-LPJoseph L. Wilson

Wilson, of Atlanta's J.L. Wilson Trial Law, is considered one of the brightest trial attorneys in the Southeast. Wilson was selected by the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association to participate in their prestigious GTLA LEAD program. And in 2016 he was honored by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in its "Who's Who," 30 Under 30 edition. Wilson's notable trial wins include a $500,000 verdict for a tenant injured in a deck collapse and a $584,000 award for a woman injured in an armored truck crash. 

 

 


Topics in "Real-World Trials & Real-World Tactics" 

Click each topic below to skip directly to the discussion. 


Introduction

Rowley and Wilson delve into the story behind the damages-only trial, involving a young healthcare worker with a "caregiver's heart," whose arm was shattered in a collision with an armored truck. 

What you'll learn:

  • The importance of trying the "tough" cases.
  • Why you should connect with your client outside the office.
  • How to best develop your client's trial story.

Quotable moment: That's the bedrock of who I am as a trial lawyer, is trying the tough cases that nobody else wanted to touch. What is honorable and magnificent about Joseph Wilson is that's what he's done.Rowley on trying cases where fair settlements are tough to get.  


Voir dire

Wilson details his approach to jury selection in the case and the walk through how to approach voir dire in general. 

What you'll learn:

  • How to connect with prospective jurors while ferreting out those who might be hostile. 
  • How to begin building credibility with jurors from voir dire onward.

Quotable moment:

Don’t judge them, don’t chastise them, don’t try to persuade them in front of everyone else, because it’s not going to happen.Wilson on questioning a prospective juror adverse to your case.


Opening

Courtney Rowley joins the discussion to dissect Wilson's opening statement and discuss the art of the perfect open. 

What you'll learn:

  • How to tell a jury what the case is worth in a trial's opening moments. 
  • Controlling breathing and pace during openings. 
  • Use of the present tense and your body to tell a trial's story. 
  • How to deliver a powerful "Pulp Fiction-style" opening. 

Quotable moment: 

We put the dollar amount up right away. First slide. — Rowley on when he brings up damages at trial. 


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Questioning a corporate representative

The pair discuss Wilson's approach to questioning Loomis Armored's corporate representative with an eye toward showing that the company had failed to take responsibility for the crash.

What you'll learn:

  • How to question a hostile corporate representative on direct. 
  • The value of putting a corporate rep on the stand in a damages-only case.

Quotable moment:

I wanted to juxtapose [defense arguments aimed at doing the right thing by plaintiff]  with the reality of how Loomis has treated Kirche in this accident.Wilson on why he called the corporate rep. first in a damages trial.


Treating-physician testimony

Wilson and Rowley walk through best practices in putting a plaintiff's treating physician on the stand.

What you'll learn:

  • The importance of a treating physician's testimony as opposed to a paid expert.
  • Making the plaintiff's injury "real" for the jury.  

Quotable moment:

The Golden Rule [doesn't prohibit] asking people to understand and apply their own human experience.—  Rowley on connecting the jury to the accident. 


Before-and-after witnesses

Wilson details his questioning of before-and-after witnesses, including the plaintiff's sister, who was in the car at the time of the accident, and the wife of one of the plaintiff's former clients.

What you'll learn: 

  • The importance of ensuring your before-and-after witnesses are credible. 
  • How a witness's present-sense impressions are crucial to making the accident real for the jury.
  • How to give jurors the full picture of a plaintiff's post-accident life, positive and negative.

Quotable moment:

It gives you so much credibility when you talk about the good parts of life.— Rowley on before-and-after testimony. 


Putting the plaintiff on the stand

The pair walk through the plaintiff's testimony and discuss potential pitfalls to avoid generally when a plaintiff testifies.

What you'll learn:

  • The importance of your plaintiff being authentic with the jury. 
  • How to prep your client for testimony.

Quotable moment:

Make sure your clients are stoic. Rowley on putting your plaintiff on the stand. 


Closing

Wilson walks Rowley through his closing and the two attorneys discuss issues ranging from how to argue damages to the best way to phrase your close. 

What you'll learn:

  • How to put numbers on the board to begin closing. 
  • How to prepare if the defense "steals" your close. 
  • The best ways to break down damages and why break-downs by hours may not be the best approach.
  • How to minimize legalese in your argument. 

Quotable moment:

Those jurors are the people that have come to your cookout. Rowley on how to speak to a jury in closings.


Q&A

The pair take questions from the attendees in a wide-ranging discussion and recommend the books that have most influenced their own trial technique. 

Trial By Human by Nicholas Rowley and Steven Halteman

David Ball on Damages: A Plaintiff's Attorney's Guide to Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases by David Ball

Rules of the Road A Plaintiff Lawyer's Guide to Proving Liability by Rick Friedman and Patrick Malone

Don’t Eat the Bruises: How to Foil Their Plans to Spoil Your Case by Keith Mitnik


 

Next Steps

CVN offers hours of video on the topics Wilson and Rowley discussed. Here's where to head next in our library. 


Watch the full trial, Hall v. Loomis Armored, now. 

Learn about all the truck crash trials in CVN's library.

Joseph Wilson's trials on CVN.

Nick Rowley's trials on CVN.

Watch Nick Rowley's voir dire in a Washington state medical malpractice trial.