My name is Doug Passon. I am a lawyer and documentary filmmaker. As long as I can remember, there were only two things I wanted to do: defend the accused and make movies. I did not know it then, but these two career paths were not mutually exclusive. Not even close.
From the moment I began my practice of law as a young public defender, I quickly learned what they never really taught us in law school: litigation is simply a battle of stories, and the lawyer who masters the art of the tell will be unstoppable.
For over a decade, I have been combining my passion for filmmaking with my practice of law by creating short documentaries for use as mitigation at sentencing. In certain cases, the traditional “lawyer” tools of advocacy (alocution, pleadings, memos, letters) just don’t get the job done. In order to create true understanding and reveal the humanity of the client, there is nothing more powerful and persuasive than telling your client’s story with a well-crafted sentencing mitigation video.
Now, videos are not right for every case. In fact, we often save them for the most extraordinary litigation stories. However, there are other ways to use story and in particular, visual storytelling, to convey the truth of your cause in a far more credible and compelling way. For example, the simple act of putting pictures in pleadings humanizes your client, brings your story to life, and elevates the emotional impact of your arguments.
The end result is the goal of every effective litigation presentation: empathy. The decision maker puts him/herself in the shoes of your client and says: “I see myself or someone close to me in this person, therefore I want for him what I would want for myself.” Be it a not guilty verdict, a mitigated sentence, a sentence of life over death, or even a higher civil damages award — empathy-based storytelling moves people into action. It is the most important skill a lawyer can learn. Helping lawyers (new and seasoned) use time-tested story technique to get better results for their clients is my passion!
I plan to post once a week on Tuesdays. My hope is that this becomes a conversation with active participation from you, the Story for Lawyers Community. By the way, you do NOT need to be a lawyer to benefit from this blog. We lawyers know that our support team – paralegals, investigators, mitigation specialists, law clerks, assistants – are the ones that do the heavy lifting to make us look good!!
I encourage you to give me your feedback in the comments section of each blogpost. I will read every comment and respond as I am able.
If you have a topic you want me to address, please leave a comment below.
I am looking forward to taking this journey with you, learning from you, and helping you get the results your clients deserve!