Episode 07 ·

Beyond the Reptile with Don Keenan

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Join us for our conversation with legendary trial lawyer and pioneer of the Reptile, the Edge and Keenan Trial Institute, Don Keenan. In this wide-ranging discussion, Keenan talks about his use of foreseeability, focus groups, statistics, power words, repetition, and lighthouse phrases to win jury trials. Keenan explains the original philosophy behind the Reptile approach and how that has evolved into something different—and better—over the years. Keenan talks about how changes brought on by Covid have impacted focus group results and changed his approach to jury trials.

What you will learn from this episode.

Perhaps no individual plaintiff’s lawyer can claim to have had a larger impact on the trial bar than Don Keenan.  Not only has Keenan been involved in hundreds of successful jury trials and handled cases in 47 states, but with his book, The Reptile (co-authored with jury consultant, David Ball), Reptile organization (now the Edge and Keenan Trial Institute), Keenan has mentored thousands of trial lawyers in his techniques and revolutionized the way plaintiff attorneys approach trials. Keenan’s approaches have become so widespread and successful that organizations of defense attorneys routinely hold seminars to teach defense lawyers how to combat Keenan’s systems and the Reptile strategies have become the subjects of routine defense motions and numerous reported judicial opinions.

In this episode, we have a wide-ranging discussion with Keenan in which Keenan talks about his use of foreseeability, focus groups, statistics, power words, repetition, and lighthouse phrases to win jury trials. Keenan explains the original philosophy behind the Reptile approach and how that has evolved into something different—and better—over the years. Keenan talks about how changes brought on by Covid have impacted focus group results and changed his approach to jury trials.

About
Don Keenan

Photo of Don Keenan

Children’s Lawyer
During his forty years specializing in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases, Mr. Keenan has secured over 381 verdicts and settlements over $1,000,000, including 15 over $10,000,000 and one over $100,000,000. Mr. Keenan has dedicated his practice to child injury and wrongful death cases arising from medical negligence, products liability, and premise liability, with the goal of making our society safer for children. He has handled cases in 47 states and on three continents.

Child Advocate
Mr. Keenan strongly believes that our duty does not end when we secure justice for the child and family. Equally important is learning from the prevention lessons of the case and formulating a public awareness campaign to help prevent future injuries and deaths and when necessary, push for legislation and regulations. He calls this unique approach to law the One-Third Solution: one-third litigating the case, one-third public awareness on the prevention and one-third pushing for regulations and legislation. Examples of his One-Third Solution are the Playground Safety Project being featured on the Today Show for the past three years, The Toy Safety Campaign profiled in USA Today and Good Morning America. The Imagine Magazine Summer 2005 issue featured Don Keenan and his One-ThirdSolution as did Mercedes Momentum Magazine in winter of 2004.

 

Awards / Distinctions

  • Selected by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “People Who Have Courage” noting that Don has been fighting for the rights of abused children for 25 years
  • Emory university bestowed the “Career Achievement Award for Public Policy and Child Advocacy”
  • Named by the National Law Journal as one of the top three medical malpractice lawyers in the United States
  • Called “The Voice of the Voiceless” by The Atlanta Globe
  • “Internationally renowned child advocacy lawyer” by Points North Magazine
  • “A famous advocate for children”, Business Chronicle
  • Seven-time recipient of “Top 100 Irish Americans” presented by Irish America Magazine
  • 2007 Ellis Island Medal of Honor (only 100 awarded each year)
  • 2008 Tradition of Excellence Award – State Bar of Georgia

Don has appeared on every major national news program including 60 Minutes, 20/20, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Montel, The O’Reilly Factor, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and National Public Radio (NPR) addressing children’s issues.       

Professional Accomplishments
In 1992, he became the youngest National President of the American Board of Trial Advocates and during his tenure, led a delegation of lawyers to Czechoslovakia and later was invited to Russia to produce the first civil trial in the history of those two emerging democracies. In 1997, he became National President of the Inner Circle of Advocates, the most exclusive group of trial lawyers in the country. In 1999, he was given the prestigious Chief Justice Award for Civility and Professionalism, the highest award possible for a lawyer in Georgia. He now serves on the Advisory Committee for the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, which trains the majority of new judges in the United States. In 1990 and again in 1992, he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year.

Significant Cases
Don successfully handled the 1980’s U.S. Supreme Court case of Kathy Jo Taylor which was the first case in United States history to establish due process rights for foster children. Again in late 1999 he handled the nationally publicized case of Terrell Peterson, an abused foster child, who was on the cover of Time Magazine (11/2000) and was the subject of the highest rated 60 Minute story of the year. Both cases resulted in significant changes in the rights of children in state custody. In 2006 he obtained the largest US jury verdict on behalf of an abused child.

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