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Trial Attorney Tim Tietjen Discusses the Skill of Active Listening and Preparation in a Plaintiff's Magazine Article Written by Daniel Pleasant

Tim Tietjen, a partner at San Francisco’s Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, believes that keeping an open mind while trying cases and during discovery is crucial, always reminding himself that, “Everything you know is wrong.” To be an effective cross-examiner, Tietjen says that one should not be chained to their outlines, but rather pay attention to what the witness says and to let that guide your continued line of questioning. This is called “active listening.”

Active listening involves not only simply hearing the words a person speaks, but truly comprehending the message. To effectively practice this technique, Tietjen says one cannot allow any distractions to interfere, even distractions that may come from within, such as boredom or loss of focus.

Although active listening is a powerful tool, it is not to be substituted for preparation. Being prepared is just as vital, but an attorney should always be prepared for deviations. Instead of relying on a script. Tietjen compartmentalizes topics, comparing facts with testimony, later circling back with experts. He recommends analyzing trial transcripts and depositions to get a feel for which approaches are most effective and which are not.

Tietjen emphasizes the importance of a plaintiff’s advantage. The first move is theirs and, as such, they often have an informational advantage that should not be squandered. The discovery process should begin as early as possible, which can provide counsel with an experience gap at a crucial time.

Ultimately, Tietjen says that adaptability and flexibility in one’s approach can help field any inevitable changes in a case.

The full article can be read at:

Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn was founded in 1980. Over the past few decades, the firm built its reputation in San Francisco and across the nation as a personal injury law firm dedicated to effectively helping injured victims secure justice and compensation.

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