This is an explanation for passage 2 of LSAT Preptest 74, the December 2014 LSAT. This passage is about the legal tactic “Stealing thunder”. Psychological studies suggest that it may be an effective tactic in trials.
This section has paragraph summaries and an analysis of the passage, links to the explanations for the questions are below.
- “Stealing thunder” is a legal strategy that involves revealing damaging information about one client. This is only done if the information was already likely to be revealed by the opposition.
- Paragraph 2, part 1: Mock trials and psychological experiments support the idea that stealing thunder is effective. For instance, revealing damaging information may boost credibility and allow jurors to form counterarguments against the opposition’s case.
Paragraph 2, part 2: Scarce information is more valuable. If both sides mention damaging information, then that information will seem less important.
- Stealing thunder also allows lawyers to frame negative information with “spin”. But this only works if the negative information isn’t too damaging. Otherwise, revealing information can give a jury a negative view of your case.
There is a lot of information in the second paragraph. Don’t just skim over it. If you don’t understand something or feel you forgot information, reread that section.
Rereading is a lot faster than reading the first time, and it vastly increases your retention and understanding of the passage. This in turn lets you solve questions much faster and avoid trap answers. So rereading probably increases overall speed by reducing your time spent on the questions.
This passage is about the legal tactic “stealing thunder”. This tactic’s name comes from an english idiom. If, for example, a friend announces your wedding before you do, then your friend stole your thunder.
Any trial will include some information that harms your case. You might think it best to wait for the opposition to reveal this information. But the first paragraph actually says that many lawyers prefer to reveal damaging information themselves.
Indirect evidence supports stealing thunder’s effectiveness
No researchers have studied the effectiveness of stealing thunder directly (see lines 11-12). But some mock trial studies and unrelated psychological studies show why stealing thunder may be an effective tactic.
Not much attention is given to simulated trials. These are only mentioned on lines (13-20). We know that stealing thunder was effective in these mock trials – we are given no further details.
Lines 18 to the end of the passage discuss psychological studies that show why stealing thunder may be effective. I’ll sum up the reasons:
Credibility: Volunteering damaging information can make you more credible. See lines 20-25.
Counterarguments: If you volunteer damaging information first, and present it positively, jurors may counterarguments against claims the opposition will make later. See lines 25-33.
Scarcity: Having both sides mention a damaging fact makes the information more common and therefore less valuable. See lines 33-43.
Spin: If information isn’t too negative, you can cast it in a positive light. See lines 44-54.
The author also points out some negative consequences of stealing thunder. If information is incredibly damaging to your case, it may be better to wait. Presenting strongly negative information early may bias the jurors against you. See lines 54-59 and lines 42-43.
I’ll repeat that no researchers have directly studied the effectiveness of “stealing thunder” in actual trials. This is an extremely important fact, and knowing this lets you eliminate many wrong answers.
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