Our Journey to Perfecting Opening and Closing Statements

by Ashley Bechtold
Week 2

This second week of work has been challenging, rewarding, and transformative. On Monday, we attended the Opening and Closing Statements Seminar where we learned tips and tricks on delivering an effective statement to the jury. Additionally, we went over the “don’ts” of opening statements and closing arguments, including the “Golden Rule” objection. Following the seminar, I began crafting my plaintiff’s closing argument for the workshop on Friday.

Along with preparing for the end of week workshop, I observed three depositions. I learned how complex and dynamic depositions are depending on the specific facts, witnesses, and underlying case law. Watching both Associate Brittney Polo and Partner Suzanne Singer take and defend depositions allowed me to start to bridge the gap between the theory that I’m taught in law school and its application in the real world. After watching these depositions, I’m excited to follow along with these cases to see how they progress and how the deposition answers will be used for further discovery and trial. 

On Tuesday, I began drafting a Motion for Fraud on the Court for Partner Melissa Softness. This was my first time drafting this type of motion, so I spent a significant amount of time reading samples and researching case law to best equip myself with the knowledge to draft it. Luckily, I was able to get great tips from everyone who passed by my office throughout the next couple of days. Additionally, my mentor, Brittney, was a huge help throughout the process. 

On Thursday, we attended our second attorneys’ luncheon where Partner Michael Holt and Associate Erin Weinstock presented proposed amendments to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Following lunch, I continued working on my closing statement in preparation for the workshop before flying to Tampa that afternoon with Andy. Once we arrived at the hotel in Tampa, we ran into Paige in the lobby and decided to grab some dinner together! It was a great end to a work and travel day, getting to catch up with Paige and Andy over tacos!

Advocating for my client in my closing

Friday was the Opening and Closing Statement Workshop with Tampa Partner Rob Blank. Prior to this day, I had never done an opening or closing statement or heard one other than on TV. I was very nervous at first, but by the end of it, I felt confident and proud of myself. Following each opening and closing statement, everyone provided feedback on strengths and weaknesses which will be very helpful for our mock trial later in the summer and for our future in practice. Being able to get this feedback from successful trial attorneys is truly invaluable. It was also a great learning experience to see some of my fellow summer associates—Erica, Paige, Andy, and Madison—deliver such strong, confident arguments and I will definitely be learning from them as well. 

Following the workshop, we all headed to Columbia Restaurant for lunch and to celebrate. I definitely see why this restaurant has become the end-of-workshop tradition because the food was delicious, the architecture was beautiful, and the singing waiter was a nice surprise! 

Overall, my second week has taught me how to push myself outside of my comfort-zone. I’m excited to take in all the feedback we received and continue improving as we go into week 3!

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