It Pays To Give A Number (CLM Magazine)

It Pays To Give A Number

  Friday, November 6th, 2020 Source: CLM Magazine

Money is always an uncomfortable topic—especially in the courtroom. Yet a recent study published in the Iowa Law Review confirms what I have been saying (and doing!) for years: If you want a defense verdict, give a defense number!

According to the study, juries who heard the defense give its own “counter” damages number throughout a trial were more likely to award a defense verdict than those who heard defense counsel simply ignore or attack the plaintiff’s damages demand.

Let me repeat this: If the defense gives the jury a damages number, then you are more likely to get a defense verdict. Ok, you just read that twice, and maybe you are nodding your head in agreement, but you are probably still like most folks in the defense industry: You don’t believe it.

In my book “Nuclear Verdicts: Defending Justice for All,” I highlight the basic psychology behind this tactic. Jurors are conditioned by arguments and evidence repeated throughout trial. That means, over time, they grow comfortable with a number despite how exorbitant it may have seemed when first introduced.

This is especially true as skilled plaintiff’s counsel repeat their large numbers over the course of multi-week or months-long trials—a tactic called “priming,” which is used to influence attention and memory.

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