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Richard Crawford, Ph.D.

2012 Conference

New Orleans

Presented by Karen Lisko, Ronald Matlon, Charlotte Morris

Richard Crawford was a founding member of the organization and served on the first Board of Directors and as the third president of ASTC in 1985. He began his career as a professor, teaching communication and persuasion and coaching debate at the University of Northern Colorado and, later, teaching trial advocacy at the law school at the University of Colorado. Although he considered a career in law, once Dr. Crawford discovered the field of trial consulting he never looked back. Initially he founded his own nationwide consulting firm. Later in his career he joined the law firm of Holland and Hart in Denver, becoming the first ever in-house trial consultant at a law firm. Over his 30-year plus career Dr. Crawford worked on more than 400 cases.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Crawford co-edited with Dr. Ronald Matlon his first law and communication book entitled Communication Strategies in the Practice of Lawyering. In 1988 Dr. Crawford published the The Persuasion Edge, a trial manual based on juror psychology and communication theory that became known as the book litigators should not be without. In 2006 he teamed with ASTC member Charli Morris to modernize the classic, publishing it under the new title, The Persuasive Edge.

Dr. Crawford is described by colleagues as having “a great intuitive sense” and an ability to perceive jurors’ innermost thoughts and feelings through the responses they gave in voir dire. He is known for teaching lawyers to forget about what they learned in law school and to relate to the jurors as real human beings with real human emotions. Dr. Karen Lisko, the consulting colleague who followed Dr. Crawford at Holland and Hart, said that trial consultants are “coaches for powerful advocacy and for teaching fact-finders in an ethical way." Dick Crawford took those roles seriously and set an example for all. You know a man is a legend when he becomes a verb. Long after his retirement, people would ask me, “Can you ‘Crawford’ my opening?”

With typical eloquence and style, Dr. Crawford made the following remarks when he received a service award at the 1997 annual ASTC conference:

When I try to explain of describe our profession, I often think of lines like these:
We don’t make the evidence; we make it more relevant.
We don’t make the speeches; we make them more persuasive.
We don’t make the witnesses; we make them more direct.
We don’t make the verdicts; we make them less random.
We don’t make the attorneys; we make them more complete.
And we don’t make justice; we make it more frequent.

In 2009 Dr. Crawford passed away after a battle with cancer. His contribution to the field of trial consulting cannot be measured. Many of today’s leaders in the ASTC personally knew and learned from Dr. Crawford and his unique perspective on courtroom persuasion and advocacy.

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