Faculty Announcement – Diane Wyzga

Diane F. Wyzga has cemented a strong national presence as the only RN, JD, and professionally trained storyteller who works as a trial consultant for trial lawyers.She will teach a course on Storytelling Skills to Bring Out the Truth, Not Just the Facts at Solo Practice University®

With over 20 years’ experience in clinical nursing, business and the legal profession, Diane founded Lightning Rod Communications to train attorneys to identify, shape and effectively deliver their clients’ stories using language with power, passion and precision. Specifically, lawyers learn to decisively use the underlying story structure common to every human communication experience so they can engage the listening power of decision-makers and more ably guide them to desired outcomes. Ultimately, lawyers become more persuasive communicators by drawing on the confidence and focus needed to build their case points memorably. Diane’s clients rely on her for compelling oral and written communications, case story, structure and theme, pre-trial focus group research, legal communications strategy development, and comprehensive trial preparation services designed to strongly position the client’s legal story in settlement conferences or the courtroom.

Following her admission to the California Bar in 1990, Diane practiced as a defense litigator representing automotive manufacturers, healthcare systems and physicians. As a transactional lawyer, she represented healthcare facilities, medical staffs, medical groups, and pharmaceutical corporations in matters of corporate and regulatory law. Her legal practice took her across the aisle to plaintiff mass tort litigation and gives her the benefit of knowing both sides of legal practice.

Diane received her Juris Doctor [cum laude] from the University of San Diego in 1990. She received a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from St. Anselm College. Completing a joint degree program, she received a Masters of Science in Nursing and Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner designation from the University of Virginia School of Nursing, where she published her graduate thesis “Nurse Practitioners and the Law.” She is also a certified risk manager, receiving an A.R.M. from the Insurance Institute of America. In addition, Diane has been an adjunct professor with the undergraduate program at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, with the University of San Diego School of Law Trial Skills Program, and an active member of the Armed Forces, serving as a Lieutenant, U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Virginia. She is an active member of the Pro Bono Committee of the American Society of Trial Consultants.

Diane devotes free time to raising honey bees, hiking, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding and environmental causes here and abroad. You may reach Diane in San Clemente, CA at 949-361-3035, or by e-mail at diane [at] lightrod.net and follow her on Twitter.  Want to read more?  Subscribe to Wyzga On Words.


Title: Lawyer as Social Artist -  Storytelling Skills to Bring Out the Truth, Not Just the Facts

Course Description: How do you craft a set of facts into a heartfelt story artfully told to get the decision-maker to listen, to care, to act? With storytelling techniques and principles. Storytelling is not kid stuff; storytelling is the most powerful form of communication we know. As ‘homo narrans’ we are wired to tell stories to relate, understand and persuade. During this introduction to practical storytelling skills attendees will learn and practice proven tips and techniques on how to sort out your case, identify the compelling story you need to bring to life, and put it all together to achieve the outcome you need for your client. Specifically, we will explore in theory and practice how to critically listen, effectively communicate, and humanize, visualize and dramatize the client’s story using language with power, passion and precision useful for all aspects of client advocacy.

  1. Introduction to Storytelling
    • Explore Notion of Story
      1. Narrative and Connection
      2. Universal Truths
    • Story Persuades
      1. Emotionally Meaningful
      2. Experiences With Story
    • Narrative Depends on Listening Skills
      1. Critical Listening Skills
      2. What We Listen For
  2. Story Structure
    • Characteristics of a Good Story
      1. Where, When and Who
      2. Stack of Facts versus Emotionally Meaningful
    • Universal Elements
      1. Beginning
      2. Middle
      3. End
  3. Bringing Stories to Life
    • Languages of Storytelling
      1. Voice, Face, Language, Gesture
      2. Descriptive Skills
    • Seeing Fully
      1. Container, Time and Character
      2. Say It Out Loud
  4. Legal Storytelling Basics and Structure – Part 1
    • Sort Out the Case
      1. Humanize
      2. Your Client Is Not an Injury
    • Beginning, Middle and End
    • Plot versus Plot Form
  5. Legal Storytelling Basics and Structure – Part 2
    • Language
      1. Power, Passion, Precision
      2. Active Voice and Present Tense
    • Theme versus Theory
    • Images and Analogies
  6. Organize the Story
    • Universal View – Your Story Is Not the Injury
    • Characters, Relationships, Values
      1. Who
      2. How
      3. What
    • Point of View
      1. Which Person to Use
      2. Little Red Is a Hood
  7. Dramatize the Story – Delivery Elements
    • Focus Groups to Test the Story
      1. What Do They Tell You
      2. How Can You Lose the Case
    • Taming Stagefright Willies
      1. Practice
      2. Fear
      3. Mistakes
    • Platform Skills – Be Your Authentic Self
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