Everyone knows it takes money to go to trial. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need a bunch of money to have excellent counsel or to have experts with lots of experience on your side. But you do need some things. First, you need courage. Second, you need to be able to trust the jury.
No one wants to lose in front of a jury. No attorney wants to talk about their losses. It is painful, embarrassing, and something we want to erase from the record books. The best and bravest trial lawyers lose cases. They would tell you they often learn more from losing than from winning. I will tell you that.
The brutal truth is that the law is good, but it can be used for evil purposes, such as trying to bully ordinary people who are standing up for themselves against the elite power structure in the United States. There are corporate lawyers who do not seek to help the people who are in need, who do not consider the harm being done to people and society, and rather seek to make lives worse and to help the insurance defense industry.
This is written to those who have the courage to stand up for themselves against the resources of the corporate giants, the insurance defense, or the government. We must bring humanity and dignity back to the courtroom. It is only through brutal honesty that it can be done.
Courage is the basic ingredient necessary for battles. Courage is not something you can go out and find on the shelf. We cannot mimic it from watching somebody else. Courage is something we must find within ourselves. Fighting courageously does not mean we stop being smart or that we lose our tempers, but courage is the basic ingredient necessary. The good thing is that we all have access to this ingredient within us and that, once we tap in and find it, there is an unlimited supply.
Many of us have lost courage in the world. We don’t know when we lost it, or where it went, but it appears to be gone. For some, courage is something we don’t believe we have enough of. And, for others, the courage is fake.
Effectively, what we are afraid of is the power structure that has been steadily working to create as much fear as possible. A judge who strikes key evidence and warns of the dangers of going to trial. Statutes enacted to punish those who will not be beaten into a cheap settlement. Media propaganda poisoning jurors views of the civil justice system before they ever show up. Politicians who decry trial lawyers as damaging to the country. Too often, ordinary people who are in need are bullied into silence by the insurance defense industry, and the jury who is supposed to serve as the conscience of our community does not get to do justice for cases in which justice should be done.
So I write to you now and pour out my heart and soul with hope that if you have been beaten down, you find the courage to pull yourself back up, keep fighting, and never give up. If you have suffered the deep, sharp, and chronic pain of injustice, so piercing that you can still place your hand on your chest and take a deep breath and feel it. Feel that pain, such that the depth of it brings tears to your eyes. This feeling is not one that can be contrived; rather, it overwhelms, takes control, and creates a glow of truth around your body, one that brings out the humanity in other humans. By feeling these emotions, you allow other people to relate to you more closely.
I have seen change in my short lifetime, and always from people who found their courage, who fought for what deserved to be fought for. Those who can feel that, who still have their humanity and are not afraid to share it and show it, are the most powerful people in the courtroom. People who are able to truly feel their own emotions and empathize with others. They are authentic, honest, and able to communicate truth in a sincere way. Those are the ones who have what it takes to go to trial. Those are the warriors who keep the fire alive and provide hope for the future of justice.
To do justice, we have to learn to identify and embrace the parts of our human story that are good, bad, and even ugly. When we learn to do this with ourselves and to accept ourselves, we are better able to understand and communicate with those humans we need in our lives and those humans who are involved in deciding our cases.
The human, the whole you, the brutally honest you, the one who strives to be a fair and honest human being and is willing to go through discomfort or struggle to get there — that is where this all starts. It all starts with you. What happened and why? What is it you miss the most? What is your favorite thing in the world now and why? If you could push a button and make life different tomorrow, how would it be? Whom do you love most and why? What is the love? Feel it, make it part of you, make it something you can feel in your gut, understand it, and share it with a group of people that need to know — the jury.
If you are willing to commit to this and feel it within yourself, you know that it possible in others even inside a courtroom. Once your human story is alive within you, you won’t need notes to tell it. You will start to see you have authority, credibility, and something no one else has: the truth. Truth about why we have a jury and a civil justice system in the first place. Truth about why getting this process right, for the right reasons, really matters. You’ll know then that none of this has ever had anything to do with lawyers asking and answering questions across a desk from each other in some fancy, impressive office.