Kurt Zaner

Zaner Harden Law

Its hard to write a paragraph that defines who you are.

Who am I? Do we define ourselves? Or do others define us? Or do our actions define us? Identity is challenging. Am I defined by my journey as a Trial Lawyer who wages epic battles with evil corporations and insurance companies? Am I defined by my 7 and 8 figure verdicts? Am I defined by the confidential settlements I can't talk about? Or am I defined by the $50,000 settlements that change my client's lives? Money is not success. But money is success. Am I defined by my childhood? Growing up in South Florida, always wanting to be an actor, a trial lawyer, or a president of something? Does serving as high school student body president make a doosh? I failed (quit) my movie star pursuit in Hollywood, does that boost my cred or detract from it? Am I defined by family?

My three young boys (1,4,6) mean more to me than any case and I would quit practicing law tomorrow if it was somehow necessary to help my kids. There isn't much I wouldn't do for them. I wish I had more hours in the day to spend with them. And yet, when I look at them, I think of my toxic tort client who was diagnosed with Leukemia at 18, has lost one leg and likely another because of a company's toxic emissions, and I imagine if this happened to one of my children. Or am I defined by my pursuit of Karate and mastery of the bow and spear so that one day I may fight like the Viper of Dorne? I want to be the Champion of those who cannot fight for themselves. Who is John Galt?

Kurt Zaner
Kurt Zaner

How fun, persuasive writing can lead to eight figure verdicts and settlements

Lawyers hate legal writing. And for good reason - its terribly boring. So stop writing like a lawyer and tell a damn story. This CLE will teach how to write in a way that moves the reader to want to rule in your favor. You can use this technique in every brief you write (from discovery disputes to substantive motions) maximizing the chances you will be able to introduce the evidence you need at trial. Without winning the briefing, you may never be able to present the case you want at trial. I learned this after working a federal law clerk for a year right after law school and literally falling asleep at my desk, only to wake up and see the Judge staring at me.

As exemplars, I will use two cases in which a winning brief on spoliation and a winning punitive damage brief led to two eight figure verdicts in CRPS electrocution cases I tried with Sarah McEahern; both had past meds under 300K. I will break down the cases and the briefs and show you how to use the writing techniques I have developed over the years and what they look like in action. I will also show how the evidence I developed in the wining briefs was dramatically introduced at trial. The presentation, like my writing, will entertain you like Maximus in Africa. If you like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, you will be even more entertained.

Kurt Zaner
Kurt Zaner

How to use dramatic/theatrical techniques in opening and closing

  • Limited to 8 attendees but observers are permitted
  • Most lawyers are boring and bore jurors into not caring.
  • Or worse, they try too hard to entertain them and make the jurors hate them.
  • We need to find a happy medium – keeping the jurors entertained and caring about your case, without pushing them away by acting over the top.
  • I trained as a stage actor throughout college and moved to LA upon graduation to purse acting before going back to law school. I have found that learning how to emote and act brings clarity, passion, emotion to your presentations.
  • We will work on some acting techniques and exercises to bring about your natural ability to do these things. You will not be "acting" in the courtroom, you will be living your true self and expressing your full range of authentic emotions and maximizing your presentation skills with an eye towards your listener/watcher.
  • We will start with acting warm up techniques.
  • I will take two of my case examples from two recent eight figure verdicts involving CRPS diagnoses and perform portions of closings that illustrate theatrical tools that can create drama and emotion in the courtroom in both opening and closing. We will breakdown the different dramatic techniques applied and how to use them. These techniques include speaking directly to your client, using pauses, incorporating defense counsel into the story theatrically, and story telling with emotion and intention.
  • Time permitting, I will also go over theatrical tools to use in witness examination (both cross and direct), providing drama, interest, and pace to examinations, focusing on how to use theatrical tools to make points stick in the jurors’ minds.
  • These tactics include cross examining directly to the jury, using video clips, moving around the courtroom, using facial expressions, using dialogue, using demonstratives and exhibits.
  • You must bring a case you are working on be prepared to practice 10 minutes of your closing related to damages and the facts of your opening.
Kurt ZanerDaniel Kramer
Kurt Zaner · Daniel Kramer


Join Dan Kramer and Kurt Zaner for a two hour tour de force on premises cases - how to collect the evidence pre-trial and how to win at trial. We will work through discovery methods and techniques in the first hour and then switch to winning at trial for the second hour. Depositions, damages models, openings, cross examinations, closings, everything will be fair game. Questions are welcome. Come learn alongside two of the youngest trial lawyers in the TLU community with eight figure premises verdicts, offering a new spin on case/trial strategy you may not have heard before.

TLU Live HB Agenda