Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

NCAJ Convention to Feature Reptile Brains and Practical Skills

In a polarized world, litigators need to think like lizards in order to win in the courtroom.

Meaning: make arguments that appeal to our primitive, reptile brains.

A live workshop on how to do that – along with lots of other educational and social opportunities – are on the agenda for the 2019 Annual Convention of the NC Advocates for Justice. The convention will be held in Wilmington at the Hotel Ballast from Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 23.

Register and get more information about the NCAJ 2019 Convention here.

This year’s NCAJ gathering will feature a new schedule and a new format, with more events open to all attendees regardless of practice area.

One session will be Unifying Juries in a Dangerously Divided World, presented by David Ball and Artemis Malekpour, the nation’s only trial consulting team certified in Reptilian trial techniques. Another will offer a nuts and bolts approach to post-conviction work at the trial and appellate level.

Meanwhile, regular offerings like the annual appellate law roundup and the President’s Gala (open this year to everybody) remain on the menu.

NCAJ Executive Director Kimberly Crouch said changes were needed because attendance at the convention has declined in recent years while costs have increased.

“NCAJ is an amazing membership organization but a membership organization, nonetheless,” she writes in a welcoming letter posted to the NCAJ website. “We can no longer remain stagnant and expect to remain relevant. We must be brave enough and bold enough to implement new ideas.”

Case Law and Reptile Thinking

“NCAJ is in a time of transition,” writes Crouch. “Overall attendance at convention has been decreasing while costs to host events outside of NCAJ’s building have been increasing over time,” writes Crouch. “Understanding how important convention is to our membership, a new format will occur in 2019 to address these realities and adjust accordingly. The new format also seeks to celebrate the community that is NCAJ regardless of practice area.”

One highlight: attorney Jon Moore will pull together the most significant appellate cases that have impacted civil practice over the past year. In this three-hour session, attendees will hear first-hand from the attorneys of record and take home best practice tips.

Also: Duke University School of Law professors Theresa Newman and Jamie Lau will present a practical approach to post-conviction work at the state and federal level. Newman and Lau, who run the law school’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic, will discuss investigations to federal habeas. Following their presentation, attorney David Rudolf will drive home the importance of criminal defense work.

David Ball and Artemis Malekpour will present a course on jury strategy and success. Ball is co-author of the book, Reptile: The 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff’s Revolution. In it, he outlines a method of persuading jurors by appealing to the most basic instincts of their reptile brains. Under this approach, evidence and arguments are framed in terms of threats, safety rules and self-preservation.

Other highlights of the convention:

  • First-Time Attendees Meet & Greet (Thursday)
  • State of the Association report by Executive Director (Friday)
  • Practical skills training for all attendees


Register for the NCAJ convention here.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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