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“You’re” Marketing

You provide a product – you. If marketing is telling the story of your product to show its value, then your marketing is your story.  

The most persuasive stories are free from deception. Great stories are allergic to half-truths. On the contrary, a story arising from a genuine belief is what creates connection. Connection creates belief. A belief that you’re being taken down the right path.

If you marketing is not working, then you must tell a better story – about you. However, this mean a better product. This means providing a better value. This means a better you.

Making things pretty

You make things the way you want them to be.  I mean…you try to.

Hemingway ends one of his most famous novels with the line: “isn’t it pretty to think so.”  His story shows us how we all color our what ifs with our wants, needs and fears. Hemingway’s art metaphorically reflects our need to believe our world views – regardless of their truth.  

While we do not always make our world “pretty,” we do make it customized:

  • There are some people that saw the evidence and still believe “OJ didn’t do it.
  • Lots of fans think their favorite baseball team will win a pennant in the springtime, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary.
  • When it comes to politics, people often vote against their own interests because of a moral vision of the world they desire.

Understanding why someone customizes their reality, the way they do, is key to revealing: (1) if your audience is likely to believe your story; and (2) the best way to tell it. In the courtroom we call this storytelling process a jury trial. The people you are telling the story to we call jurors, the judge, and lawyers. Everyone of them customizes their reality.  It is unavoidable human nature.  Emotionally unencumbered rationality is a false premise.

Your challenge is to tell the jury a true story using the currency of their collective world views.  People will simply not buy your message if it does not fit their subjective reality. However, it might be “pretty” to think so.

By Lawkop on July 17, 2015 | Legal Intelligence, Legal Storytelling | A comment?

“Davids” understand pain

The path to doing something great runs through the state of pain. There are no detours. No fast passes. Every road to a worthwhile destination requires this journey – it requires pain.

Whenever a “David” knocks down a “Goliath” there is pain. However, it is not just the pain of the battle, the game or the trial. Pain has a longer reach.

Pain attacks you before you start. Pain knows the most effective strategy is convincing you not to play. He knows an unfair bargain feels more comfortable than the inevitable pain of the fight. So he first infiltrates your emotions.

Pain first attempts to gain your submission with fear. He sends his younger brother anxiety to sell you the safety of the status quo. The moment you start to think about going up against an opponent who has every advantage, anxiety paints a terrifying picture in your head. He then softly whispers in your ear “look away,” you’re just a “fraud”.

The most unbelievable part of the David and Goliath story is not that a man defeated a giant. It is that David was fearless. Davids hear anxiety’s whispers. Davids often believe them. They are not anesthetized to fear. They are just as terrified as everyone else. However, they just believe the anxiety, fear and pain are a price worth paying for what they believe in.

Davids only have one superpower – grit. A few are born with it. Most, however, choose it.

Davids understand these truths about pain, fear and anxiety. They know these are simply part of the journey to defeating Goliaths. However, this realization is not a cure. It merely provides clarity…direction. It makes our choices easier. It illuminates what is worth fighting for. When you take on something that you believe in, fear is the compass that shows you the way. Just pick up your sling and walk towards it.


  • Don’t read another case;
  • Don’t write another sentence;
  • Don’t see anymore clients

…until you answer one question. Why are you here?
Take your answer and compare it what you are doing. Do the two fit? If the answer is no, then quit as fast as you can

By Lawkop on July 4, 2015 | About Legal Coffee | A comment?

Beware of False Scales

It’s an old warning, but it still holds true – beware of false scales. Throughout history the admonition against using a numerical value to mislead others has taken many forms:

  • Proverbs 11:1 tells us “[t]he Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights”;
  • Leviticus 19:35 cautions “‘[d]o not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity.”
  • Mark Twain is quoted as saying “[t]here are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Each of these aphorisms recognizes the power of numbers to mislead or bolster a weak argument.  

However, despite history’s warning, many people appear wired to automatically believe numbers in print. A printed number has a sticky quality that is difficult to detach. This is why politicians use them so often regardless of their truth.  

Providing a number without the facts that belie it distorts its meaning by providing an incomplete picture. Showing only the parts of picture you want people to see is a powerful persuasion technique…as the most deceptive things in life are almost true. That is what makes them so believable.  

Test results in DUI cases are no exception. Anecdotally speaking, the majority of DUI cases are not the person who is a sleep in a running car, that is stopped in the middle of an intersection at a green light, clutching an open bottle of vodka. Impaired driving cases are usually less obvious. Most convictions are dependent upon the results of a chemical test.

Our best evidence for determining impairment (by alcohol) is a reliable measurement of a person’s alcohol concentration. DUI is one of the few crimes in our country where a printed number is the primary difference between innocence and guilt. As such, there is no situation where it is more important to heed history’s warning about false scales.

When a blood tester prints out a number it is the end result of its software’s counting and processing the data it has been provided. There is no artificial intelligence within the machine guaranteeing the trustworthiness of the result. Moreover, the printed number is not meant to represent the true value of a person’s alcohol concentration. It is merely a best estimation. However, when it is portrayed as a the right answer, the problem is not with the machine. The problem is with the human who knows it is misleading to provide a number without an explanation of its limitations.  

Reporting just a number printed by a machine is form of deception which incorporates “a truth”. It is true that the machine printed that number. However, if that number:

could have a range of uncertainty below a statutory limit;

is created by a machine that has been assigning the wrong number to the wrong person; or

has been produced by using a unreliable calibration method

…it cannot be trusted. Without knowing these facts, the number falsely implies certainty.

The results of any measurement are only truly understood in the totality of its context – supported by the underlying data. Dishonest scales are not only to be detested by a higher power…we the people should detest them as well. As the American economist Edwards Deming famously declared “In God we trust; all others bring data.”

The difference between standing and sitting

The dictionary defines “Grit” as “courage and resolve; strength of character”. However, these words are inadequate.

Grit is the difference between standing up after being knocked down or staying put. It is something inside you that says “yes” when the person you’re standing nose-to-nose with unfairly says “no”. Grit drives you towards what you believe at your core

Grit is identified by action – not appearance. It does not manifest itself in fashion or stature. A small homeless child who wakes up not knowing where her next meal will come from likely has more grit than a 300 pound defensive tackle with black war paint below his eyes.

People with grit focus on the task not the time it takes. It makes perfect sense to people with grit why the tortoise beat the hare.

Grit does not show up on a standardized test score. However, it can reveal itself in the wake of a poor result. How you respond to a test result that tells you “no”, is a measure of your grit.  

Do you let it stand in your way?

Will you move around it?  

Do you choose to go through it again…and again?  

If you have grit, failure is merely the unhappy kindling that ignites it. As Einstein told us, “[i]t’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Grit makes irrational choices. The best irrational choices. It moves you towards choices that people around say are foolish or a waste of time. When your collegues believe there is an unstoppable force in your path, grit is why you stand as the immovable object.  

Grit is a passion that lays in your gut silently waiting for the call.  Grit fights a continuing battle with the resistance deep inside you. It is where you find your strength when other can’t. Luke had the force. You have grit.

All other things being about equal, what quality do you want in your counsel? When you are wrongfully told to sit down, I want someone who stands up.  

Who first, what second

Maybe you just finished a right of passage. Maybe you have been doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. It makes no difference. Both situations presents the same challenge. You must decide: what do I want to be? Law can take you anywhere, the courtroom, the boardroom or even the Lincoln Bedroom.  

With this decision before you, I know only one thing of value which history has proven true…you don’t know where you want to go. Once you choose what you want to be, you need only enjoy each step in that direction, one after the other. That is your path.

Default is a choice

Justice is a system.  It is a constellation of related principles and structures forming a complex network.  It is supposed to result in a product which furthers our ideals.  The courtroom is the factory floor of the system. It is an amazing place.  Every morning you can experience the best of us…and the worst.

Like any other system that deals with volume, the courtroom constantly pits efficiency against quality. Keeping these goals at a reasonable equilibrium over time is difficult.  It is a mistake to pretend that there is some easy solution to consistently balancing them just sitting on a shelf waiting to be utilized. However, dispite the difficulty of achieving this balance, justice requires we take on this task.  Justice is premised on its own difficulty to achieve. Thus, we must strive to produce the best justice we can. This struggle gets built into the policies, procedures and culture you encounter on the other side of the bar.  

When one of these goals is significantly out of balance with the other, there are costs and consequences. An unintended and discrete symptom of efficiency trumping quality is when the system’s caretakers stop thinking. Volume creates reflexiveness. Experiencing what appears to be the same issue over and over easily leads to callousness. The increasing size of a court calendar increases the temptation to treat every case (and every person) the same. In turn, we create a “one size fits all” default process. 

  • “All cases must be resolved in 120 days.”
  • “We have rules, all we need to know is were they broken?”
  • “Everyone will go to jail for xx months if they…”

However, not all cases fit in “the 120 day box.”  As matter of experience, to properly handle most criminal cases, under the prevailing legal climate, 120 days is usually inadequate.  I would argue that most first time non-violent offenders are significantly harmed rather than helped by extended incarcerations. Most people outside our system are unaware that there is a cost to sending a person to jail. In Arizona it is around $200 day. Similarly, most people are unaware that the taxpayer (i.e. you) will end up paying the government in many of these cases. People who are not on the factory floor just don’t know costs of these decsions to: them. In turn, they are unaware of the consequences of efficiency significantly outweighing our other goals.

The above defaults are just easier. They do not require us to think. They do not require us to take on the emotional labor necessary to do our job – the best justice we can reasonably do.

These default responses also help us believe we are not accountable for the results of our default actions. Even on its best days the Justice System will not always get it right. Some days are better (or worse) than others. There is always the fear that someone’s decision results is news story criticizing their decision.  While this is a legitimate fear, it is not acceptable guidepost. These are the pros. Being guided and driven by fear is for amateurs.

Relying upon your default system is a choice.  Ask yourself: is it your choice?

God’s anger

Are you making God’s angry?  If “God made man because He loves stories“, then you better learn how to perform.   I’ve read what happens when he gets angry…you don’t want to see him when he’s angry.

By Lawkop on April 24, 2015 | Legal Storytelling | A comment?

Voting in the dark

Transparency enables us to know what we are voting for.  However: 
  • “One person one vote” — not true…if you don’t know what your voting for;
  • “You vote your conscience” — not true…if you don’t know what your voting for;
  • “You verdict is justice” — not true…if you don’t know what your voting for.
We have important decisions to make.  All we ask is you give us the truth to make these decisions.  
If people are guilty, then we will vote guilty.  If people are not, then we will let them go.  Either way, we just need the facts.  So why are we fighting about getting the truth?  Whether its video from a body camera, emails, or evidence of malfunctioning equipment in a crime lab, we just want the facts.

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases.  Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants;  electric light the most efficient policeman.”


Why do some people want us to vote in the dark?  
More importantly, why do we ever accept voting in the dark?