TLC teaches students to be in tune with the judge, the jury and the witness – can you elaborate on that?
Students often think that cross examination is primarily the art of destruction. The problem is you’re often destroying yourself and your case when you’re destroying something in the court room. In TLC we learn how to be, not just destructive of course, but to tell a story in a way that will get you to tune into the feelings of not only the witness, but all of the other people in the room. You’re in tune with yourself, the jury, the judge, I mean you’re kind of feeling at all different levels and so the magic if you will, is tuning into those feelings and using them to tell the story in a way that touches and convinces people. And while that will destroy the opposing side, TLC will teach you to do that in an artful and constructive way that won’t turn off your juries.
At TLC, you teach a unique approach to the Cross Examination of a witness. Can you expand on what that approach entails and whether it’s difficult for new students to learn and then apply?
It’s what you say and how you say it, it’s not necessarily the witness’ response that matters. That’s some of the things that we learn – that the witness is a conduit, if you will, for telling the story of our case and how to do it in an effective way that doesn’t necessarily bully the witness, unless it’s called for. I really think that what students get is, they begin to learn and appreciate the art form of the TLC cross examination. Because that’s what it is. It’s not just a science. It’s not something you can just say “well I’ll do this formulaic leading cross today”. You first use TLC methods to discover the witness’ story and then have to be in tune, because things change on the fly, so you’ve got to be right there in tune with the story and to what’s going on in the courtroom from a feelings standpoint. You gotta know when to soften or strengthen or repeat. So it’s ever-evolving in the moment. That’s the beauty and challenge of it.
And it’s fun to teach it because it requires creativity and spontaneity. And when tuned into themselves and their clients and their stories, students get the method and love it!
Have you noticed a change in the way you practice since you started with TLC?
It’s totally different. It continues to evolve with every case I’m involved in. It’s continually changing and growing within me and my practice. The sensitivity, the insights, the intuition are just constantly expanding. I mean one of the questions I saw was – “why do you keep coming back to TLC” – and part of the reason is, because your understanding and your style and your intuition continues to deepen with every exercise and with every student and with every seminar. TLC gives you the insight to decide, this is going to be my strategy with this witness. The key questions are, “what is this witness’s story?” and “how can I use that story in an effective way to tell my story of the case”? Every witness has a different story. I learned that from Gerry back in 1998 – we need to know what is the witness’s story and how to discover it and cause it to mesh, or conflict, with our story. Gerry did this in his trials and he taught it to me, and I work hard to teach it to students I’m privileged to work with.
About Ken Turek
Ken Turek is a plaintiff civil trial lawyer from San Diego, California who attended TLC in 1998 and has been on the faculty since 1999. Using TLC methods, he has obtained several multi-million dollar jury verdicts in a broad range of areas such as personal injury, fraud, breach of contract, unsafe housing and professional malpractice. He also often co-counsels and in 2015 teamed to obtain seven and eight figure trial results in head injury, wrongful death and child molestation cases. Ken is a frequent national speaker on courtroom and personal success strategies for trial lawyers in large part drawn from challenges in his career, and he recently created www.wholelawyer.com and the Whole Lawyer podcast to help trial lawyers. Ken has received three Outstanding Trial Lawyer awards from the Consumer Attorneys Association of San Diego. Since 1987, his peers have also awarded him the highest rating for legal skills and ethics in the national Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (AV Preeminent 5.0 out of 5), and named him a Southern California Super Lawyer annually since 2007. Ken has twice taken first place honors in the prestigious Silver Tongue Extemporaneous Speaking Competition. His hobby is performing stand-up comedy and his written comedy has been published in The New York Times.
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