Effective Insurance Recovery Lawyers Tell a Great Story

In today’s blog post, Miller Friel attorney Kimberly Wehle continues her four-part series, Four Tips for Advocating Insurance Coverage Disputes.  In this third installment, she discusses how effective insurance recovery lawyers build a theme for the case and tell a great story.  Although great trial lawyers do this as a matter of course, effective story telling should begin at the commencement of the case. This is especially important with insurance recovery law.  If insurance issues are briefed in a purely technical fashion, an opportunity to stir the intellectual and factual curiosity of the court may be lost.  One way to engage the court’s intellect is to consistently tell your client’s story in a clear and compelling way.

Don’t miss Thursday’s final post in the series; Part Four, Short Is Good, But Shorter Is Better.

We have included a transcript of the video below:

Four Tips For Advocating Insurance Coverage Disputes

#3 Have A Theory Of The Case And Tell A Great Story

It’s important in insurance cases, like any sophisticated litigation, to have what we call a theory of the case. A theory of the case can be a factual theory, it can be a legal theory, it can be both. The idea is what’s the narrative? What’s the story that we want to tell?

It’s very easy to get into the detail and lose the overall overarching concept, and in insurance cases in particular, they can come across as dry. Very detailed, boilerplate contract language is not the most exciting thing for a lot of people, and so the task of a lawyer is to convey the story behind that particular policy and those two parties in a way that will capture the judge’s attention and thread that narrative throughout the entire litigation. It’s a decision that needs to be made early in the case. What is our theory of recovery here? And weave that into every filing all the way along.

It’s easy to just respond to the issues or respond to the factual allegations, respond to the legal arguments, the law that’s raised by the other side in a coherent accurate way. The task of a particularly sophisticated written and oral advocate is to translate that into something that is interesting to the reader, even if it seems fairly dry on its face. In my experience, I’ve found sometimes the most arcane subsection of a regulation can become absolutely fascinating if it’s framed in a way that engages the imagination, engages the intellect of the reader. That is something that we try to focus on explicitly in addition to just responding to the tennis ball being thrown over the net, and the court calling balls and strikes. If we can convince the court early on that on the merits of the story we should win, the court is more likely to construe the details in a way that is in favor of our client at the end of the day.

I know this from my experience clerking for a federal judge where one of my judge’s colleagues would say … he’d read the complaint I remember, and he would say, “What’s the key to this case?” The key, whatever that key was, drove for that particular judge through the rest of the litigation and that concept has stayed with me throughout my practice.

In addition to answering the question accurately, you really have to tell a story and clearly in a jury trial, every good litigator will know how to do that, but even in a briefing practice where it’s mostly writing and arguing what can seem to be fairly dry, complex issues being able to translate that into something that’s engaging and interesting is what makes routine litigation compelling and really persuasive and sophisticated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please prove that you are not a machine. *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.