AZA Co-Founder Joseph Ahmad Offers Tips on Courtroom Effectiveness in Interview with Law360
September 9, 2015
HOUSTON – Joseph Ahmad, founding partner of Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C. or AZA, was interviewed extensively about his trial expertise for a story by national legal news service Law360 on how lawyers should handle themselves in the courtroom.
In the article “The Art of Effective Body Language at Trial” (subscription required), several leading trial lawyers across the nation gave pointers on how attorneys can use body language to convey confidence to juries and judges.
“You don’t want to sound like a robot up there,” Mr. Ahmad told the reporter. “On the other hand, you also don’t want to come off as cartoonish, as a parody of yourself. You have to find that middle ground, and I think that middle ground is what you can pull off naturally.”
He told Law360 that he often videotapes his arguments only to find afterward that his delivery came off as more rushed and more nervous than he’d thought. Slowing down can take some practice, he said.
“We’re not always aware of the gestures that we make,” he said. “It helps to see them, to watch them, to be aware of them.”
Mr. Ahmad warned against the kind of eye-rolling and head-shaking one sees from TV lawyers during damaging testimony. “If you give the jury the impression this testimony really hurts, they doubly pay attention,” he told Law360. “Maintain your posture, maintain your cool and act as if you expected everything that came out.”
He said jurors might get the impression from theatrical arm gestures and other attention-drawing movements “that an attorney is trying to sell something to the jury.” He cautioned against fast-talking and suggested slow and cautious communication, acting naturally but keeping jurors interested.
He also warned against getting too up-close and personal with the jury. “I think when you invade somebody’s space, when you get right up to the bar between you and the jury, you can make the jury uncomfortable,” Mr. Ahmad said.
Mr. Ahmad primarily handles complex commercial cases and represents executives in litigation, including trade secret and non-compete cases. Author of the blog Legal Issues in the Executive Suite, he is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates. He has been on the Texas Super Lawyers list since it was launched in 2003 and has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Texas. He also is listed in Best Lawyers in America.
Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, intellectual property and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized in Chambers USA 2015 among the best in Texas commercial law; U.S. News & World Report and The Best Lawyers in America as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms; Texas Lawyer as a Litigation Department of the Year 2015 and Law360 as a Texas Powerhouse law firm. National corporate counsel named AZA both one of the country’s best in client service and one of the most feared. Read more at https://www.azalaw.com.