Heather Hansen

Yanny or Laurel? A Trial Lawyer’s Nightmare

Have you heard the whole controversy about Yanny and Laurel? If you haven’t, here is the link. What it comes down to is that because of our ears and the tone of this recording, some people hear Yanny and some hear Laurel. Two completely sane, normal people can hear completely and utterly different things. Not that big a deal–unless you’re a trial attorney. Because for a trial attorney–this is our biggest nightmare. If a juror isn’t hearing the same things we are, that makes it really hard to know what they need to hear in order to resolve the case. It makes it hard to know how to win.

We all worry that jurors aren’t seeing what we see, and hearing what we hear, and this is just proof. Some of us overcome that concern by repeating ourselves–over and over and over. Others, like me, read tons of books about body language, micro expressions, and ways to read people nonverbally. On rare occasions you’ll get a cluck or a guffaw from a juror which gives you some limited feedback. But that’s the extent of it. We don’t get to ask questions of juries, so we can’t figure out what it is they hear. 

You do get to ask questions. So at the risk of repeating myself, I encourage you to ask them. Ask the people you’re talking to what they hear, what they want to hear, how it makes them feel. You have the power of questions at your fingertips, and that power is magic. Use it. Ask questions, and then ask more. The more questions you ask, the better your chances of winning.

I’ve never won a case without asking questions. I’ve never settled a case without asking questions either. And when it comes to my life outside the courtroom, questions are the secret to any success I’ve ever had.

Heather Hansen

Subscribe to Heather’s newsletter, connect with her on social media or purchase one of her books.