“Did you order the Code Red?” From a professional standpoint, what makes this courtroom scene from the film “A Few Good Men” so memorable is the intensity of actor Tom Cruise’s character, Lt. Jaffee, finally overcoming concerns about handling himself in the courtroom. He ignores evasive intimidation tactics and character assassination ploys designed to distract everyone present, and he persists his pursuit until he gets an answer. You can practically see Lt. Jaffee’s brain filtering personal comments from the defendant as he deflects other courtroom comments to sift for an answer to his question and continuing to sift until he gets one. Unlike Tom Cruise, lawyers are not trained to win Academy Awards, but the right acting classes can help them perform better professionally in and out of a courtroom.
1. Overcome shyness, and build confidence in all areas of life.
Polished and poised is what you will become as you work through the exercises designed to help you step out of your comfort zone. You will be in a safe place to experiment and practice techniques that help you to remain calm and think clearly despite feeling anxiety at the very thought of speaking to a group of people in a courtroom, boardroom, office or social setting.
2. Think on your feet during rapidly changing, real-time developments.
Consider Lt. Jaffee’s gradual ascent from asking pertinent questions into succinctly blurting out the direct question with fiery passion. Defense cases require the same skills to pick up on cues, discern context and respond in a way that makes sense. Practicing improvisation techniques taught in acting classes helps you learn to lose inhibitions and set aside ego that tether you to distractions. Practice is key for mastering the skills needed to think from a calm, relaxed state free of hurry and indecision that can creep in from reservations about the unknown or the startle of unanticipated developments.
3. Collaborate effectively in a group even when you are flying solo in the courtroom.
Working with a group presents challenges. Brainstorming stifles the creativity when members get stuck on a single idea. Time management is key for coordinating behind-the-scenes group members’ contributions to get everything done in a timely manner while operating within strict deadlines. Learn the skills needed to guide efficiently and to trust your team to come through.
4. Know thyself, and to thine own self be true.
To their clients, lawyers represent hope, but to the court and the media, they must present unwavering confidence with authority on their client’s issue and confident resolve to see the case through to a favorable resolution. Acting classes teaches you skills to notice and polish your body language, tone of voice and delivery style that can keep you from communicating most effectively.
No matter what anyone in a courtroom says or how they say it, lawyers need skills to stay plugged in to the pertinent, to think on their feet and to respond quickly to the unanticipated. One Family Lawyer in Orlando, Florida practices these techniques and told us it was the best decision she had made. She now feels like she can take on any court house in the world. Acting classes teach and give opportunities to practice becoming more confident, effective communicators in a safe place to make and overcome mistakes. Because face it, there are no re-takes in real-life courtrooms where lives are on the line.