111. Joseph Wilson, Joseph Wilson Injury Lawyers To Maximize Case Value: Tapping the Human Element

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Joseph Wilsons accolades could fill a Rolodex. This Super Lawyer Rising Star has been recognized by National Trial Lawyers as a top 40 under 40 and has been selected as a top 30 under 30 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. But don’t let his age fool you. In the past eight years, Joseph has led counsel on over 25 jury trials and reclaimed millions for his clients. Joseph and his Atlanta-based firm, Joseph Wilson Injury Lawyers, has settled over 30 six-figure settlements.

To become a preeminent trial lawyer in personal injury, you have to work harder, invest more, and know that you are the best lawyer in the courtroom. I always say that competence breeds confidence and today is a perfect example. I sat down with Joseph to tackle the ins and outs of personal injury trial preparation, positive mindset, and tapping into the human element in every case. Listen for more.

Whats In This Episode

  • Who is Joseph Wilson?
  • The importance of over-preparation in pre-trial
  • How to secure compelling witnesses that sound completing and strong
  • How to tell a human story to the jury
  • Maximize the value of the case by investing in pre-trial discovery
  • Mindset and confidence in, and out, of the courtroom
  • Learn from peers; let other lawyers inspire you

Transcript

Joseph Wilson
I think it’s all about positive reinforcement talking to yourself, not out loud, of course, those mental reps that you’re taking as you’re walking into the courtroom or before your opening statement, just telling yourself that you can do it. I tell myself just being honest with you. I say I’m the best lawyer in the courtroom. That’s how I talk to myself.

Chris Dreyer
To win large verdicts and maximize the value of a case. You have to tackle it head on. And there is no substitution for pretrial preparation and personal confidence.

Joseph Wilson
And so when I get up, I try to exude that not in an arrogant way, but in a fully confident and fully credible way not being reluctant to talk about money, not being reluctant to talk about a bad part of my case. So it’s all about, again, that positive reinforcement being prepared so that you are, all the facts and you can go in there with full confidence and that you’re the best lawyer in the courtroom.

Chris Dreyer
You’re listening to personal injury mastermind the show where elite personal injury attorneys and leading edge marketers give you exclusive access to grow strategies for your firm. Less than 5% of personal injury cases go to trial. But Joseph Wilson is not afraid to take them to trial. In the past seven years, he served as lead counsel on over 25 jury trials and recovered millions in zero-offer pretrial cases. . A Georgia Bar Super Lawyer Rising Star his Atlanta based firm. Joseph Wilson injury lawyers have settled over 30 six-figure settlements. I sat down with Joseph to go over how to prepare for a winning trial, casting a client as a hero, and the importance of mindset in and out of the courtroom. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer , founder and CEO of Rankings.io . We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. Being at the forefront of marketing is all about understanding people. So let’s get to know our guest. Here’s Joseph Wilson, founder at Joseph Wilson Injury Lawyers

Joseph Wilson
Johnny Cochran is probably the best trial lawyer I’ve ever seen in action. I’ve never seen someone in court with that type of swagger, that type of confidence.. And he was just an incredible lawyer. in college is when I actually came across him, read his book, started doing some research on him, and he really motivated me to be a trial lawyer and really one of the biggest takeaways that I continue to. And one of his mantras is just preparation. That was his mantra is that you have to overprepare, you have to be more prepared than the other side. And that allows you to go into court and have that swagger, have that confidence because all the facts and you understand your case from A to Z. And so that’s something I try to carry with me and implement on all of my cases now.

Chris Dreyer
I love that. That reminds me of one of my favorite sayings is. Competence builds confidence. So that’s what it’s all about. You went to Wash U university, so I’m near St. Louis and I’ve got a couple other colleagues, Brian Zeiger Philadelphia attorney went to Wash U and, but you began your career in labor and employment law. I’d like to know what happened and what you, what made you take the shift over to PI.

Joseph Wilson
So in law school, I was on my trial team and we did a lot of negligence cases. And so I was already familiar with those PI cases. However, in law school, I was also doing a lot of internships for the EOC working for the federal government. So I thought I wanted to be an employment lawyer. I wanted to work at a big firm. That was the first offer that I received was from a big labor and employment firm in Atlanta. But I soon realized. I’m never going to get in trial, doing labor and employment work, particularly at this particular defense firm. And on top of the. They wouldn’t even allow you to take a deposition until year five. And that was just way too slow for me. And, I started coming up with my exit plan pretty quickly on how I was going to get into PI, which wasn’t easy because everybody looked at me as an employment lawyer. So I would call all the plaintiff’s lawyers. I’d meet with them and they’d say, I would have to teach you. The things you need to know just to do the job. You don’t know what you’re doing essentially. And nobody really wanted to take that chance. And it was also difficult even just getting insurance defense jobs because of my background, but that was my journey and transitioning from employment law to PI.

Chris Dreyer
Yeah. They definitely wouldn’t say that now with with your success in the courtroom and you got a lot of those major victories and, so you went over to PI. And you had those experiences. So when was it? You’re like, Hey, I’ve worked for another firm. I’m going to strike out on my own. I’m going to start my own firm. What, when was that? What was the motivator there?

Joseph Wilson
So the first PI farm I worked at was in Decatur, for a gentlemen named Bruce Hagen. Who’s still a mentor and friend to me, he gave me my first chance. And within a month I was trying trying a case , which was crazy. And in a very conservative venue, he really threw me into the fire. And I really loved that because it gave me confidence. And from then on, I was trying cases regularly. So I was there for about two years and I actually was ready to go out of my own. Around that time. And I remember I met with another lawyer who I was just trying to get some business advice from and he was a, an owner of a firm that does a lot of larger commercial motor vehicle cases. And he actually propositioned said, Hey, you should come over and work for me, learn how to work up some of these big cases before you go out on your own and not take them up on that offer was there for another two years. And then I remember we got a pretty good verdict in November of 2017 where I was lead counsel on. And I realized the time is the time is now it’s time to go. It’s time to do it. It’s now or never. And so I took that plunge and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Chris Dreyer
Yeah. That’s fantastic. And it’s amazing that you got those experiences early. We had a trial attorney, John Gomez on earlier, and he was talking about. you can read a lot of books about trial, but you’ve got to get in the ring. You got to take those reps and get the experience. The majority of PI cases, get settled out of court but you’re a powerhouse in the courtroom, so what’s it take to prep for a case? What goes into crafting that compelling story?

Joseph Wilson
Yeah, it always depends on the case. It depends on the client, but generally speaking, first you have to have all your ducks in a row. And all your evidence in order before you can even think about getting a case to trial. So that’s why even when we initially filed the case, we’re thinking about what we’re going to need. If we have to go to trial. And again, going back to my prior experience, trying cases right out the bat, working for Bruce Hagen, that kind of helped me form that mindset because I knew what I needed to get. Although I hadn’t taken a lot of depositions and worked up big cases, I knew what I needed to get. So. When I’m preparing a case when I filed the case and I’m preparing it for trial. Everything from all of the physical evidence that you’re going to need photographs, the medical key medical records that I want to use experts looking into, whether I need an expert or not taking evidentiary depositions of doctors. Really, I think the biggest part of the case is are the damages witnesses. These are the people, the everyday people in your life that knew you before. The trauma new you after the trauma and have seen what you had to go through during that time period, those are really compelling witnesses. And you just have to spend the time with the client. They proudly always says it’s spending that time with the client to get their human story. That’s really, what’s critical because a lot of times, and I’ve been guilty of this as well. You think of the client and you just really think of the file you think of what their medical bills are, but you don’t really know them. And because you haven’t taken the time to get to know them and really drill down on what they’ve been through. You get generic answers such as this wreck is, destroyed my life or this wreck is caused me not to work well, that’s pretty general. And most people aren’t going to relate to that. But if you start drilling down and getting some specific stories before this wreck, I’d get in the bed at 8:00 PM, Id fall right alseep but now I get in the bed. It takes me two hours to go to sleep. I will have to wake up at midnight because my back is killing me. I put a pillow behind my back. Then it takes me another three hours to go to sleep. And then when I wake up in the morning, I’m exhausted and this is every single day that I have to deal with this. That’s just a completely different type of real life story. That somebody can really picture that if they’re in the jury box, like man waking up every day, you’re exhausted, you’re in pain, you’re just irritated. And then it makes sense why? Okay. People in her family, her friends saying she’s more irritated, she’s more irritable now. It makes sense. Now put, it gives context to that. So just trying to drill down on some of those human stories so we can really and authentically tell them to a jury.

Chris Dreyer
Do you use different things to tell that story? Like how do you make it real to them?

Joseph Wilson
The goal is we don’t want the client or the plaintiff to come across as if they may be complaining. We want them to sound resilient and like they’re really fighting and strong and we allow the damages witnesses to tell those additional stories. One, it, it sounds better coming from maybe a coworker or maybe a bit more objective, they can just tell what they’ve seen and what they seen, your client experience. But on top of that, at the end of the day, it’s the lawyer’s responsibility to tell that story properly. And, sometimes we’ll talk. As if we are the client, when I’m giving an argument, I’ll step into the shoes of the client and talk in first person. So to speak as if I am the client and try to make that real. And it’s all, it is a bit dramatic. It is a bit like. Theater in a sense in that you’re you’re trying to create drama. You’re telling stories, you’re trying to make them compelling and persuasive. And all of that is included in that trial preparation process is making it compelling not making it boring, including visuals to engage all the senses for the jury as well. So we, we try to think pretty critically about, about that when we’re preparing.

Chris Dreyer
Preparing physical evidence before trial is taxing on the body and mind. I wanted to know how Joseph stays on his, a game in the weeks and months leading up to the trial.

Joseph Wilson
I try to make it a point to workout, although I don’t always do that.. Normally when I’m not in trial, I work out five days a week. When I’m in trial or preparing. Sometimes you can let the stress of preparation get to you. So I won’t work out or I won’t eat as well as I should, but as a practice moving forward, and what I would suggest is keeping that same routine and making sure you’re working out, making sure you’re meditating or so your brain can be working at the top of your game as well. And then, when I’m heading into the courtroom, there’s not necessarily nerves, but there’s anxiousness there as you’re about to start to trial, just really being focused on controlling your breathing. That’s something that. I’m pretty good at is that I realize, okay, I’m starting to feel it. The anxiousness I need to take in more oxygen through my nose, breathe out, do whatever I need to do to calm myself because I’ve seen a lot of lawyers when they get up to speak, they’re speaking really quickly, or they’re losing their breath. That’s because they’re forgetting to breathe because of the nerves. So I try to be very deliberate about control of my breathing before I get up to speak.

Chris Dreyer
That’s a great piece of advice. newer attorneys maybe underestimate some of the resources and the investments that you need to make in a case. What are some of those resources that maybe newer attorneys may not consider but are definitely necessary costs in big cases,

Joseph Wilson
Things like getting the medical records summarized by a nurse, an outside nurse to flag anything good or bad that you need to know about that’s an investment, but it’s necessary because there’s just too many records and it’s not a good use of my time for me to review 10,000 records. So outsourcing things that are not a good use of your time, such as again, the medical records Let me see, in addition to that non-party records. So those are the records that the other side subpoenas to get. These are records of your client from prior, from subsequent things, you have to know those records get those reviewed as well and summarize for you. Again, all the bad parts of your case, all the good parts of your case, there may still be some things that they hold back for impeachment purposes, but you need to know your, you need to know the records inside and out. Yeah. Experts damages experts, and things of that nature. When these bigger cases you might be hiring an economist or a life care planner or sometimes even for liability purposes and accident reconstructionist, and these costs can add up, we’ve got a few cases where we’ve had to hire multiple experts in and it does add up. So these are probably not things when you’re a new lawyer, you’re thinking about the investment part of the case, you can’t be cheap on these cases. You’ve got to do what you need to do to maximize the value of the case. If you can’t do that, then you should probably partner up with somebody who has the resources to do so.

Chris Dreyer
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a great piece of advice, especially if you’re a newer attorney to partner up with someone like yourself, you learn by immersion too, just being surrounded by these other individuals that are at the top of their game. The other thing is, confidence in the courtroom. It’s an essential habit. It’s a point of communication with the jury. You’ve led counsel in over 25 cases. And know how to command a courtroom. what does it take to remain confident in challenging court cases and in order to maintain control?

Joseph Wilson
I think it’s all about positive reinforcement talking to yourself, not out loud, of course, those mental reps that you’re taking as you’re walking into the courtroom or before you’re giving, give your opening statement, just telling yourself that you can do it. I tell myself just being honest with you. I say I’m the best lawyer in the courtroom. That’s how I talk to myself. And so when I get up, I try to exude that not in an arrogant way, but in a fully confident and fully credible way and, saying it like, it, not not being reluctant to talk about money, not being reluctant to talk about a bad part of my case. I tackle it head on and I think it’s something the jury picks up on. They can they’re looking at your nonverbal communication. If your non-verbal doesn’t match up with what you’re saying, they may not think. Directly and be like, okay, this person’s lying, but something will be off. It’ll be something subconsciously that they’ll say, okay, something’s not quite right. I don’t think he’s he or she is completely credible. Because they’re nonverbal, isn’t matching up what they’re saying. So it’s all about, again, that positive reinforcement being prepared so that you are, all the facts and you can go in there with full confidence and that you’re the best lawyer in the courtroom.

Chris Dreyer
Winning attorneys can never be over-prepared. I wanted to know how lawyers can play back the courtroom game tape and take a retrospective, look at what went right. And what can be improved.

Joseph Wilson
Yep. Certainly in fortunate, we’re fortunate. We have platforms like CBN courtroom view network, and they’ve recorded probably three a month trial. So I can go back and see in over the years how I’ve gotten better in areas. I need to improving thinking about the last trial I did on CBN. Although my closing was good. I didn’t feel there was enough emotion in it. When I went back and looked at it, I was like, okay. I was pretty, pretty bland. And in closing, you’re supposed to argue, I should have been way more argumentative in that closing and in a bit more having more inflection in my speaking voice. So yeah, definitely going back and looking at the game tape, seeing how. Having some of your mentors and people, you look up to evaluate and see what you’re doing as well. Again, I’ve been fortunate. I work a lot with Braley. He’s a man, he’s a mentor of mine. And so we’ve done that before, where he’s you should be doing, you should be saying this, you should be doing. I don’t want it this way. In, in your closing or et cetera, et cetera, just giving tidbits, just to try to get me to my full potential. And then at the end of the day, you gotta keep working on your craft. Investing in yourself, I was in Montana last year. At a seminar trial by human seminar, working on my craft for five days. And, I’ve invested in many other things to help me perfect my skillset as a trial lawyer, because again, I want to be the best. And so you have to put in the work to try to be the best.

Chris Dreyer
If 10,000 hours of practice can make you an expert at just about anything. There is no better time to start right now. I wanted to know where attorneys eager to become great trial lawyers can begin.

Joseph Wilson
Yeah, there’s tons of books out there. I just read. Dont Eat the Bruises by Keith Mitnik the grade book Trial By Human Nicholas Rowley , a great book, all the Damages books by David Ball. But also, just going in and watch trials. It’s a little tougher now with the pandemic and all of that, but you got to get down there and watch trials, watch bad lawyers, try cases, watch good lawyers, try cases watch. Average lawyers do try cases and you’re not necessarily taking things from them or trying to imitate them, but. Trying to be inspired by what they do. And you add things to your toolbox, so to speak, but always trying to be yourself. I come across a lot of lawyers who just, they can’t get in the courtroom to try a case. Their cases either they have to settle them or perhaps their boss is pushing them to settle cases. So they can’t really get trial experience. So I’m trying to come up with. Something that will help bridge that gap a little bit so that at the very least you can be practicing as if it’s the real thing you could be working on how to give a proper opening statement or how to give a closing argument. So I’m working on something. Later this year that can help a lot of younger lawyers or lawyers with little trial experience really, build up their trial skills.

Chris Dreyer
Yeah. And when you, when that comes out, definitely let us know. And we’ll share that with our audience and I’m sure it tons would love to have that. The other thing I like is, when you’re talking about having your mentors and speaking to these other attorneys, you’ve got, like-minded people that are experiencing the same thing that you can run different ideas at them. Hey, maybe I should take this arc with the story or with this, with damages or this with this jury. as an elite trial attorney, what is something that you wish you knew before you got started?

Joseph Wilson
Now that I’m actually trying cases and I. I, I know what a good case looks like. I know what a good chase is worth. You hear a lot people getting these big verdicts, but when you really dig into it, they may have gotten a $10 million verdict, but the case should have been 15 or $20 million. And, thinking back to being a younger lawyer, how intimidating that was, I’m like, wow, these people are getting all these big verdicts. They must be something that there’s no way I can get to that level. But realizing that you really can . If you put in the work and work on your skillset, you can actually get to that level. And once you get there, and I’m not saying I’m there yet necessarily, but once you get there you quickly learn whos really knows what they’re doing and who fakes it necessarily, or is it more of a marketing tool? Or, things of that nature. So just knowing what is real, what’s not having done it for a little while, been practicing 10 years now. So it’s been a bit eye opening.

Chris Dreyer
I think you have to have those experiences because in a lot of times, when you dive into something, you get the expertise and without doing it, you, you can get these experiences. So I think it’s a great piece of advice.what’s next for Joseph Wilson Injury Lawyers?

Joseph Wilson
It’s gonna be a pretty busy year. I’m hopefully going to get to try some cases this year. Take my presence on a, more of a national stage and hopefully trying cases all over the country. That’s the goal. I’m excited about the future and just excited about trying cases that are really important that can hopefully make some change as well.

Chris Dreyer
Joseph is not afraid to take a case to trial for lawyers looking to become great personal injury, trial attorneys, tenacity and mindset go hand in hand. How you talk to yourself matters. Eat and get moving Over-prepare your physical evidence. Get to know your clients on the human level. And when the trial comes, your competence will deliver unshakable confidence. I’d like to thank Joseph Wilson from Joseph Wilson Injury Lawyers for sharing his story with us. And I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation . You’ve been listening to Personal Injury Mastermind. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you like this episode, leave us a review. We’d love to hear from our listeners. I’ll catch you on next. Week’s PIMM with another incredible guest and other strategies you need to master personal injury marketing.

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