The Sex Therapist Who Upended the Law

The Sex Therapist Who Upended the Law

Lisa blue’s credentials are dizzying. There’s the ph. D. In psychology, the schooling from masters and johnson as a intercourse therapist, the enjoy heading up a drug rehabilitation ward for teens. There’s the j. D., the time as an assistant district attorney in dallas, and the impressive song report as an ordeal attorney with a number of multimillion-dollar verdicts beneath her belt. There’s the books on jury selection. There’s the language competencies in spanish, french and italian, along with some facility on the piano. And incidentally, she has simply returned home from completing a marathon — in france. “while i used to be a bit lady, i used to be afraid that i might grow up and be bored,” blue says. Clearly, boredom has now not been a trouble for the multifaceted legal professional who the countrywide law journal named one of the pinnacle 50 girls litigators inside the usa in 2002. Particularly, she also appears to have averted the high-strung, pressured-out personality that regularly accompanies this type of busy life. In reality, she’s rather calm. Blue speaks slowly and deliberately, deciding on her phrases with care and turning in them with a smooth earnestness. Blue grew up in atlanta, the daughter of a surgeon and a homemaker, with 3 brothers. Her oldest brother, a psychologist, recommended blue to explore his selected profession. She observed his idea to the fullest, earning her two master’s levels from the university of virginia and a ph. D. In counseling and psychology from north texas country college. Along the manner, she also educated in sex remedy with masters and johnson, wondering that she would in the end specialise in that place. “the satisfactory advice i got during graduate faculty become to get a uniqueness,” she remembers. So how did a health practitioner of psychology with a successful family therapy exercise get into law? The answer might be surprising, and a piece unsettling for a few lawyers. Inside the overdue ’70s, when blue changed into heading up a drug abuse health facility for teens in houston, she noticed that a large percentage of her sufferers shared a common characteristic — they have been children of trial attorneys. She noticed a similar fashion in her work as a intercourse therapist. “within the past due ’70s, the largest range of patients with sexual problems had been attorneys,” she explains. While she recalls her fascination with this trend, blue’s approach is frank and clinical. “right here have been these folks that have been great communicators while in front of a jury however then at domestic they were such poor communicators,” she says. Blue attributes the incongruity to a loss of potential in lots of lawyers to talk about their feelings. “lawyers are superb actors,” she explains. “and in case you go to court docket and also you’re depressed or down, you continue to should be on.” however that ability, blue says, doesn’t continually translate nicely right into a own family environment, where being open approximately one’s feelings is critical. Whilst blue changed into seeing lots of legal professionals in her practice, it wasn’t until she obtained an invite from a affected person to help in a jury selection that she skilled a courtroom firsthand. “the revel in changed into terrible,” she remembers. “the alternative aspect stood up and said to the jury panel, ‘does absolutely everyone here understand dr. Blue? She’s come to investigate you.” at that time, jury psychologists didn’t exist, and blue says, “i felt like he had thrown the case simply through mentioning me.” though, blue observed the court docket captivating. “it changed into all very thrilling and hostile,” she remembers, “and there was so much psychology concerned from the time the attorney walks into the court till the time the case is over.” inspired, she determined to visit law school to “analyze the guidelines” after which continue her paintings as a psychologist with a forte in trial psychology and jury selection. Speakme about her regulation school enjoy, blue says, “i’m no longer as smart as other attorneys. I’m prompted and centered, but if you have a look at my grades from law college, they are very bad.” she’s critical, mentioning depend-of-factly what she perceives to be her weak spot. “i’m simply now not that ebook clever and not an amazing check taker,” she says. She is also very dyslexic. “whilst spelling,” she explains, “if i write ‘path,’ i see ‘trial.’” and for a trial legal professional, that might pose a few challenges. Extremely committed, blue asserts that “even supposing it takes me 100 more hours to get as properly a grade as somebody else, i’ll do it.” what blue does own, she explains, is the potential to assume beyond the same old barriers. “in law faculty, i was capable of creatively take what i had discovered as a psychologist and use it in a law setting.” developing an attentive listening expertise became possibly the maximum vital talent she discovered. “when i educated as a psychologist, i used to be required to report on cassette tape heaps of hours of my paintings with patients. I'd then sit down down with a professor and concentrate to every session. If it regarded like i had neglected what the affected person was saying, the professor could say, ‘lisa, you weren’t listening’ and we’d pass back and assessment it.” all that exercise, blue says, gave her a large gain as an attorney. “specially in some thing like voir dire, the most crucial aspect is the ability to concentrate nicely.” blue additionally observed that a psychological precept known as “psychodrama” — seeing a situation from any other individual’s eyes — translated effectively into the work of a trial legal professional. “lawyers didn’t remember that when you walk into a courtroom and you present your case, the jury is not simply searching at the statistics of the case.” from blue’s first time in a court, she saw the mental complexity in how the jury perspectives the lawyer. “the jury is looking at how they dress, how they treat the consumer, how they treat their employees, how they have interaction with the court employees.” in lectures, articles and classes, blue has added this concept to lawyers via asking them to faux to be a juror. “whilst an lawyer can have a look at matters from the attitude of the juror, it changes how they do things within the courtroom.” no matter how an legal professional handles the court, blue says, “one aspect’s for positive: a jury can odor a faux from a mile away.” conversely, they know the real issue after they see it. To illustrate, blue recalls a voir dire experience she had while coping with a case in fortress well worth. At the time, she become already an skilled trial legal professional assured in her capability to get jurors to open up. “throughout voir dire, i felt i had completed a good activity with the panel and they had been speaking to me and we have been connecting. Then the alternative lawyer got up.” blue explains that this lawyer had most effective been in practice for a 12 months, a true amateur. “he become so anxious that he stuttered and stored getting his terms blended up — plaintiff and defendant.” but when he went over to the jury panel, blue recollects, “he said to them, ‘i’m so apprehensive that i feel like i want to throw up.’” even though he endured to stutter and confuse his words, while he sat down, the complete jury applauded him. Blue believes this to be a superb example of the way “in case you’re just yourself, you don’t constantly need to be magic or quick or smart. Absolutely everyone loved that lawyer and wanted him to win.” while blue has come to be an professional in the psychology of an ordeal, she has also been a success at putting those concepts into exercise. “i by no means anticipated to grow to be a working towards legal professional once i entered regulation faculty,” she recollects, “but i left with a ardour for attempting cases.” as an assistant district lawyer in dallas under henry wade (of roe v. Wade fame), blue prosecuted extra than one hundred twenty five instances to verdict, relishing the possibility to visit court and be in the front of a jury almost each day. When she moved over to baron and budd in 1985 to strive her hand at civil instances, she sought to be in the court as lots as viable. From 1986 to 2004, blue estimates that she attempted eight to 12 poisonous tort cases a year, and, in line with baron and budd, received kind of ninety percent of these. “regrettably, i especially consider those that i misplaced,” blue says. She grows greater serious whilst she says that her time as a trial lawyer became via far the maximum challenging out of all her expert endeavors. “i suppose the toughest element i’ll ever do is be first chair in a complex toxic tort case.” her grueling schedule produced many staggering wins, the biggest of which changed into a $fifty five. 5 million verdict inside the 2001 asbestos case hernandez v. Kelly moore paints. For blue, that win turned into “like a spiritual experience,” and now not because of the massive number. She relished the experience of operating with the latino community. “the jury deliberated in spanish, the judge become hispanic, the purchaser spoke spanish,” she says. At the cease of that case, she turned into decided to examine spanish; she has been taking instructions six days a week ever for the reason that. Now that she has a company handle on the language, blue is targeted on managing instances that involve the hispanic populace. It’s one of the few criteria that she uses to decide whether or not she’ll take a case. After so many years of nonstop trials, she has given herself the danger to “be greater choosy.” these days, blue has taken more of a historical past role — coaching other attorneys, and doing paintings as 2nd chair. She says, “at this factor i don’t want to be lance armstrong [whom she represented in a $5 million contract case]. I want to be his educate.” but even in a secondary function, blue’s paintings makes headlines. In the kingdom’s first vioxx-related private harm case against pharmaceutical massive merck, the plaintiff ’s legal professional, mark lanier, cites blue’s jury work as “beneficial” to the $253. 5 million verdict. Blue chose to help lanier now not best because of her notable admire for the houston lawyer, but due to the fact the case become the first of its type. “its outcome had the ability to have an effect on many lives,” she explains. For blue, the vioxx verdict was in particular exquisite thinking about the makeup of the angleton, texas, jury. “when the jury become within the container, i used to be very scared. It turned into one of the most adverse plaintiff’s juries i’ve ever seen,” she says. A 3rd of the jury become more youthful than 24, which, according to blue, manner hassle for the plaintiff. “as a jury psychologist, i’ve observed that contributors of the more youthful era don’t have the lifestyles studies in an effort to judge favorably for the plaintiff. They haven’t recognised hardships like divorce, loss of life inside the own family and losing a activity. Their mind-set seems to be ‘stuff happens; recover from it.’” worse, the vioxx case involved the demise of a fifty nine-12 months-antique guy. “to me, as a fifty three-12 months-old, that man’s younger,” blue says. “but to a juror beneath 24, that’s nearly a grandfather's age.” blue and the relaxation of lanier’s crew had the case prepared and equipped to go, however as soon as the jury was inside the box, they done an in a single day makeover. With distinctive information from a 25-page jury questionnaire blue helped develop, the crew become able to customise their technique to in shape the jurors. “i knew who those humans have been, i knew who liked oprah, i knew that maximum of the jury watched csi,” blue explains. Lanier’s opening statement, offered in powerpoint with a series of pics and captions, commenced with a slide that said: ‘individuals of the jury, this is like csi: angleton.’ it engaged them at once,” blue says. The lanier group used a similar tactic within the second vioxx case, which became attempted in atlantic city, just one hundred miles far from merck’s headquarters. The famous show among that jury, blue says, changed into desperate housewives. “we based totally the case across the structure of this system. We even used an image that featured the four important characters and then their faces became 4 merck ceos. The caption changed into ‘desperate executives.’” the technique had a large impact on the jurors. Whilst blue interviewed contributors of the first vioxx jury six months after the trial, she says, “i was astonished with the aid of how a lot they remembered. In my profession, i’ve interviewed extra than 100 juries after trial and their memories are simply now not that right, in particular from long instances.” psychologically talking, the strength of lanier’s presentation makes feel. “while a juror hears some thing and sees it as properly, their ability to take into account goes up ninety percentage,” blue says. The presentations featured greater than 2 hundred slides, each with a picture observed by using only some phrases. “it turned into easy and effective,” blue recalls. It additionally controlled to inform a story, which blue says is every other critical way to ensure that people maintain the records from an ordeal. “without a doubt great trial attorneys give little info right here and there that paintings to create a story. Humans take into account that, specially if the info are sentimental.” for blue, an excellent example of the strength of a easy anecdote got here from the primary vioxx case. It become about the plaintiff ’s husband, whose alleged wrongful demise changed into at the middle of the case. He had a subculture of purchasing 10 birthday playing cards for his spouse and placing them in one of a kind spots across the residence. “the warm and fuzzy stuff makes a far more potent affect than some complicated scientific reality,” blue says. The vioxx instances are two out of a small wide variety of cases that blue has been involved with over the past few years. However what she calls a “sabbatical” does now not seem to involve a variety of down time. Actively searching for methods to hire her spanish abilties, she has volunteered as a translator at a local divorce clinic, and has even toyed with the concept of trying some immigration work. After katrina, she spent numerous weeks doing therapy with trauma patients. She’ll quickly be volunteering her psychology services to amputees coming back from iraq. She’s additionally publishing a book together with her brother, rick blue, a radio psychologist in atlanta, referred to as dr. Blue’s 50 recommendations to shop your relationship. And when she’s not working on an occasional case, she wakes up five days every week at 4 a. M. To practice piano, run and take a look at spanish, french and italian. “i by no means desired to be a achievement,” she says. “i’m sitting here on this splendid house, but i could just as without problems be happy in a tiny apartment with a few fantastic books.” blue is apparent on her priorities. “i simply want to keep gaining knowledge of.”