Storytelling for the Defense

Merrie Jo Pitera, Ph.D. & Barbara Hillmer, Ph.D.

Never Underestimate the Power of Storytelling


Storytelling is primal for humans—one of the few human traits that is truly universal across cultures and through all of known history. The goal of Storytelling for the Defense is to help defense attorneys understand and reclaim the fundamental value of storytelling in the context of persuading jurors and winning cases. Defense attorneys must realize that the power of the narrative is not the sole purview of the plaintiff. The book demonstrates that a compelling story, not facts or logic alone, is the best defense.

Merrie Jo Pitera

Merrie Jo Pitera, Ph.D., is a psychology and communications expert who specializes in complex litigation and trial consulting. She is the CEO of Litigation Insights, a full-service, woman-owned trial consulting firm headquartered in Kansas City. She has more than twenty-five years of experience in the field and focuses on helping clients perform at their highest levels. She has managed hundreds of cases during her career and works with clients to build persuasive themes.

Barbara Hillmer

Barbara Hillmer, Ph.D., has more than twenty-five years of experience in research, consulting and case management, working with clients to help them achieve their goals. She is particularly skilled at interpreting quantitative and qualitative data to analyze cases from jurors’ perspectives and structuring thematic narratives that appeal to jurors’ sensibilities. She works to help clients understand the importance of stories in communicating effectively with jurors.

Praise for Storytelling for the Defense

“Great trial lawyers are great storytellers. In Storytelling for the Defense, Merrie Jo Pitera and Barbara Hillmer posit convincingly that casting a compelling story at trial is more than art—it also involves a good bit of science and a lot of hard work—and they offer a practical framework for developing narratives and themes that will resonate with jurors.”

Jack Lewis, Esq.

Managing Counsel, Litigation, Chevron Upstream Law

“Dr. Pitera and Dr. Hillmer have captured how effective use of trial themes and graphics increase the likelihood of winning your case. Their guide sets forth the tools to present your evidence as a story that jurors will understand, remember, and use to argue on your behalf
during deliberations.”

Janell M. Pepper, Esq.

Assistant General Counsel, 3M Litigation & Preventive Law

“Having worked on litigation with Drs. Pitera and Hillmer for over twenty years, I can unequivocally state that these professionals know
about how to develop themes that connect with your jurors. You want them in your corner when you go to trial. No one can help you tell a
better, more effective trial story. They have proved it time and again.”

Joseph M. Price, Esq.

Faegre Baker Daniels