From the Vault: Bill Jones and the Value of Keeping Arguments Succinct

In the 2009 issue of Mountain States Super Lawyers, trial lawyer Bill Jones, partner at Garlington, Lohn, Robinson in Missoula, Mont., is praised by colleagues for his timeliness and ability to stay on task in the courtroom--which has helped him in his cases. An excerpt:

"Bill will get up in front of a jury and say, 'For the next 20 minutes I will ...,'" says Peter Stokstad, one of Jones' Garlington partners who has served as the veteran attorney's second chair. "I've looked at my watch, and he has always finished in exactly the time he told the jury he would take."

The power of brevity hit home for Jones when he helped defend the Montana Power Company against a negligence claim in 1980. A wildfire had scorched 1,200 acres outside of Missoula three years prior, and property owners argued that sparks from improperly installed power lines were to blame. The trial stretched on for two months, and, out of respect for exhausted jurors, Jones delivered a succinct closing argument. The judge later confided that he saw the concise speech as a turning point. "It gave me the idea," says Jones, "that even though a closing argument is short, if it appeals to tired jurors, then it's the most meaningful thing."

Read the full story here.