WASHINGTON — Law360 interviewed Wilkinson Stekloff founding partner Beth Wilkinson to highlight “her approach to trial preparation and techniques for connecting with juries.”
Sharing her approach to preparing for a trial, Wilkinson told Law360, “The biggest thing is to review all of the materials, the depositions, the documents, the plaintiffs’ filings and to narrow your case and focus on the key elements where you think there are factual disputes.”
Wilkinson also described the “three things you need to talk to a jury or fact-finder”– being yourself and being authentic; having intellectual rigor around your arguments and facts; and telling your story in a compelling and empathetic way. “What you really want to build with a jury is trust,” Wilkinson added. “Trust is the most important thing, and I think it takes those three components to really build that trust and therefore have that jury find in your favor because they’re going to find two commonsense types of analysis that we all do when we’re deciding things, through our logical, analytical minds and then through our emotional and intuitive hearts.”
Offering advice to younger attorneys, Wilkinson said, “Take advantage of any possible opportunity you can to go to court, whether that’s watching someone else, whether that’s standing up and arguing in front of a judge in a pro bono case or a paying client’s case, whether that’s going to trial with a colleague and helping them out.”
Wilkinson continued, “When you’re in the arena and you’re in that courtroom, not to worry about what all the critics say on the outside. Realize it’s actually the process of standing up and doing the cross-examination or doing the arguments before a judge and how you feel about it and not being so afraid of not doing well that you don’t take that opportunity when you’re given it. You have to be fearless even if you’re not.”
Wilkinson has been lead counsel in over 50 jury trials and has continued to be one of the few — or only— women selected for that role. In 2019, Wilkinson Stekloff was recognized by Law360 as one of the “best law firms for female partners” and “best law firms for female attorneys” among all law firms with 20 to 49 lawyers. Though women represent just over one-third of all attorneys in private practice, Law360 recognized Wilkinson Stekloff for its strong female leadership, including two female name partners, and for achieving gender parity among the firm’s attorneys.