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Openings and Closings 101

Level: Intermediate
Runtime: 62 minutes
Recorded Date: January 20, 2017
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1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Preparing and delivering an effective opening statement
  • Strategic considerations
  • Key communication points
  • Preparing an ddelivering effective closing arguments
  • How to do it?
  • Things to avoid
Runtime: 1 hour
Recorded: January 20, 2017


This seminar has been created to provide the young lawyer with valuable information about two important aspects of a trial: opening statements and closing arguments. Three experienced litigators will give proven tips on how participants can improve their performance in the courtroom with their own opening statements and closing arguments. Information will also be provided as to the ethical guidelines that need to be followed while engaging in openings and closings.

This program will help young attorneys with little trial experience who expect to be in the courtroom as well as experienced attorneys who may need a refresher.

This program was recorded on January 20th, 2017.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Steven A. Weiss

Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn LLP

Mr. Weiss provides advice on a wide variety of business litigation for companies and business people. He is focused on resolving business disputes with particular experience handling intellectual property, breach of contract, trade secret, employment and covenant not to compete matters. Local and national companies and individuals retain Mr. Weiss to handle a full range of business disputes because they trust his judgment and litigation skills.

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Miranda Lundeen Soto

Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP

Miranda is a board certified civil trial lawyer and has tried over 50 cases, bench and jury trials. She has defended a wide range of matters, including personal injury cases, premises liability, commercial and business disputes, product liability, complex fraud matters and legal malpractice claims at the state and federal levels.

Before coming to Shook, Miranda was a partner and chair of the Fraud and Special Investigations Unit practice group at an international minority and women owned law firm. She served as lead counsel for the Miami and Fort Myers offices of Allstate Insurance Company, where she received the company's highest honor, the Distinguished Performance Award. She has provided legal opinions to CNN News and has presented seminars with Florida’s Division of Insurance Fraud on “Strategies for Successful Fraud Investigations and Prosecution of S.I.U. Claims.”

Most recently, Miranda was a panelist/speaker for a two-part series on "Social Media and the Law" at Claims and Litigation Management Alliance's Fraud Conference in Boston. She also lectured in New York City at CLM's Bad Faith, Coverage and Insurance Fraud conference on "How to Personalize a Corporate Client in Bad Faith Litigation." As a faculty member for the American Bar Association, she presented a national webinar on "Expert Witnesses: Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Expert at Trial" for the ABA.

Miranda was previously elected as co-chair of the Emerging Leaders Committee for the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and was a finalist for CLM's Professional Outside Counsel of the Year Award. She also served as panelist and speaker at the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL) "Perfect Pitch" business development seminar.

Miranda was selected by the Dade County Bar Association as one of Miami's top 10 litigators to present its annual Super Lawyers CLE Mock Trial. She became a certified instructor for the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance in 2011 and has presented a seminar on Advanced Mediation Strategies and was a panelist/speaker on ethical claims handling at CLM’s Bad Faith, Coverage and Fraud Insurance Conference in Orlando.

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Sonia E. O'Donnell

Carlton Fields Jorden Burt

Following her clerkship for the Honorable Peter T. Fay in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Sonia Escobio O'Donnell became an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida where she was involved in civil and criminal trials and appellate litigation. As an assistant for approximately 16 years, she participated in criminal cases, wrote and argued criminal appeals, supervised the appellate division and became the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney and Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney. As the Executive Assistant she had management and supervisory duties for all areas of the office, she reviewed and approved indictments, coordinated and created the program for the Drug Task Force in Miami (HIDTA) and drafted and/or argued major motions in high-profile criminal cases. As Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, she advised the U.S. Attorney on major legal issues in the office. She was assigned to the civil division for three years where she defended lawsuits against the United States including constitutional actions against federal agents (Bivens cases), The False Claims Act, The Federal Tort Claims Act, The Freedom of Information Act and she brought affirmative civil cases including those involving heath care civil fraud.

In private practice Ms. O’Donnell represents corporations in civil litigation in both the trial and appellate levels. She advises clients on issues of grand jury subpoenas and white collar defense. She represents criminal defendants in federal courts on issues involving the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, Medicare Fraud, RICO, narcotics violations, Hobbs Act and other federal charges. She has litigated against federal agencies in administrative proceedings as well as in federal district court. She has litigated, at both the trial and appellate levels, issues of Indian law, including tribal sovereignty and immunity and Indian gaming (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).She has also litigated numerous environmental cases in federal trial and appellate courts involving violations of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, NPDES well as challenges to environmental consent decrees and to state statutes that violate the Clean Water Act. Both as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and in private practice she is often called on to provide legal advice on complex issues, including jurisdictional issues, international law issues, and lawsuits against government agencies. Most recently she was hired to attend and advise in, the criminal homicide trial in Costa Rica of American Ann Bender.

She has filed merits and amicus briefs, as well as certiorari petitions, in the United States Supreme Court. She has briefed and argued hundreds of cases in federal appellate courts and has also briefed and argued cases in the state courts. She has presented over fifty oral arguments in federal and state appellate courts.

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