May 7, 2024

Debbie Champion: The Jury Whisperer

Episode 31
“I don’t celebrate my wins, and I don’t commiserate with losses.”

Debbie Champion: The Jury Whisperer

Episode 31

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I always ask myself, when the jury goes out, is there anything I would have done differently if I could have? And sometimes the answer is yes. And you think about what you would have done differently. And I always take notes while the jury's out as to what I wish I had changed, because when the jury comes back, and if they win, if you win, you don't want to change anything. And so you don't learn from that. And so I try to do that while the jury's out.

In this episode of the She Lift Project Podcast, Cynthia Kirkpatrick talks with Debbie Champion, a successful litigator. They explore Debbie’s journey, highlighting effective communication in litigation and trial dynamics.

Debbie’s unconventional path to law, rooted in psychology and diverse education, shapes her approach to connecting with jurors authentically. She navigates trials with humor and insight, leveraging counseling background to understand juror behavior, emphasizing reading people effectively.

Discussions delve into Debbie’s experiences of being underestimated and her strategy of gradually expressing personality through attire and jewelry in court. She emphasizes understanding jurors’ intelligence and emotions, learning from losses, and detaching self-worth from case outcomes. Debbie discusses managing challenging facts with empathy, advocating for authentic interactions and personal growth through failures.

Lessons from setbacks lead to improvements, emphasizing communication in legal disputes and respecting diverse perspectives while upholding core values. Through embracing resilience and authenticity, Debbie’s insights extend beyond litigation, providing valuable lessons for personal and professional development across different life endeavors.

Guest Contact Information

Headshot of Debbie Champion

Debbie Champion

Rynearson Suess Schnurbusch & Champion

Links from the Episode

Show Notes

Chapter 1: Introduction to Litigation and Trial Work (00:00 – 05:02)
00:00: Introduction to the podcast focusing on helping women succeed in the workplace.
00:10: Goal to support women in their career growth.
00:25: Cynthia Kirkpatrick’s background as a successful litigator attorney.
00:59: Mention of being underestimated in the courtroom but emerging as a winner.

Chapter 2: Communication and Storytelling in Trial Work (04:21 – 05:55)
04:21: Importance of effectively conveying a theme to the jury.
04:38: Emphasis on communication, storytelling, and aligning with jury instructions.
05:02: Importance of fitting the narrative with the jury instructions.

Chapter 3: Trial Preparation and Strategy (09:54 – 10:39)
09:54: Focus on strategizing rather than controlling in trial preparation.
10:07: Emphasizing the need to communicate effectively with the jury.

Chapter 4: Understanding Human Behavior in Trial Law (10:39 – 11:25)
10:39: Creating a program to understand the psychology of juries.
11:11: Managing the psychological aspect in trial proceedings.

Chapter 5: Courtroom Procedures and Paperwork (13:54 – 14:13)
13:54: Highlighting the importance of authenticity in court.
14:01: Emphasizing the significance of authenticity in court proceedings.

Chapter 6: Building Relationships with Jurors (34:34 – 38:16)
34:34: Focus on building rapport with jurors.
36:47: Importance of getting to know the jurors and gaining their trust.

Chapter 7: Lessons Learned and Overcoming Obstacles (1:01:03 – 1:09:50)
1:01:03: Reflecting on failures and obstacles in a successful career.
1:07:16: Detaching personal value from case outcomes.
1:09:50: Importance of dissecting failures and learning from them.

Content Notice

This podcast and all She Lift Project content represents the opinions of Cynthia Kirkpatrick and her guests. The content here is for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as professional advice – financial, legal, medical, or otherwise.

Views and opinions expressed in the podcast and across all She Lift Project media channels are our own and do not represent that of our places of work. While we make every effort to ensure that the information we are sharing is accurate, we welcome any comments, suggestions, or correction of errors.

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Nicki Ball – The Power of Pivots

Whitney Toates: Building a Business Club

Kristin Thompson: Juggling Fertility & Finance

Headshot of Debbie Champion

Debbie Champion: The Jury Whisperer

Cathy L. Davis: Somebody Needs to Hear Your Story

Katherine Flett: Don’t Be a Jerk


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“You’re going to come across folks who are going to maybe have doubts, but it’s not because they doubt you. There’s always a fear for people, and they just don’t want to see somebody fail.”

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Cathy L. Davis: Somebody Needs to Hear Your Story

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I have a three year old, Nora, and I was going to court that morning, and I was in my full suit and walking out, and she said, mama, you look like a superhero. And it was just, like, the best thing to hear. Because I’m like, “Yes, little girl, I hope you always see a woman in a suit and think that’s a superhero.”

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