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  • Writer's pictureJessica Brylo

Anchoring: What You’re Missing

Let’s talk about anchoring. Everyone knows the importance of anchoring a damages ask, but did you know that anchors are non-specific? For example, you only need to mention large numbers, whether dollars or anything else, to anchor a higher dollar figure. You can talk about the number of medical errors per year, the number of brain cells, or the number of reported crimes – you get the point. Any large number will anchor. So, what does that mean in practice? For one, you can still anchor your damages request even in states where you cannot ask for a certain number. You can do this by mentioning large numbers throughout the trial. Get witnesses to testify about large figures relevant to the case or their practice field. Use statistics in closing. Second, you can (and should) anchor throughout the trial. Often, attorneys will anchor in voir dire, opening, and then in closing, but there are often days or weeks of trial testimony in between. Instead, work on anchoring through experts. The hospitalist can testify to how many patients come through that chain’s doors yearly. In a brain injury case, the doctor or neuropsychologist can testify about how many brain cells there are in the human brain. The trucking expert can testify to how many trucks are on the road across the country any given day, how many miles are driven per year, or how many minutes drivers spend behind the wheel. Find anchors that fit and trickle them in throughout the trial. One caveat: Whenever possible, your anchor should be higher than the damages you seek (but not so high that they seem like an outrageous anchor). If you have several anchors throughout the trial, you can have one or two that are lower and still properly anchor, but the rule of thumb is to have them be higher than your ask. If you need help with case framing and finding anchors, reach out.

**I will be teaching and sponsoring at Trial Lawyers University in Huntington Beach June 5-9. If you would like to attend, you may use my discount code 200TRIALDYNAMICS for $200 off registration:

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