Listening to Understand: What Laywers & Clients Can Learn From Improv

Set for Sentencing podcast_SM

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I hate to admit it, but we lawyers, we’re really good talkers, but listening? Not so much.  When your lawyer puts away the police report, sits with you, and says, “tell me your story, I’m all ears,” then you know you are in good hands.

But, being a good listener isn’t always intuitive.  Therefore, it’s time we look to the world of improv to see what it can teach us about being better advocates for our clients.

Actor, communications expert, and alumni of the famed Groundlings Improve in LA, Brian Palermo, is just the man to teach us how.


  • The difference between listening to respond and listening to understand;
  • What it means to listen with a heightened emotional intelligence;
  • The value of relatability; seeing yourself in the other;
  • How you think you’re presenting vs. how your audience is perceiving;
  • The imperative of caring;
  • The value of “full spectrum communication”;
  • The power, import, and mindset of “yes, and…”;
  • Narrative is everything, and the “ABT” is the most clear, most actionable expression of narrative structure;
  • One easy improv exercise that will make you a better listener.


Palermo Improv Training Website

Brian Palermo on IMDB

The book, “Connection: Hollywood Storytelling Meets Critical Thinking” on Amazon

The Narrative Gym for Law on Amazon

Ep. 4 of Set for Sentencing, “Narrative is Everything at Sentencing” (a deep dive into the “ABT” Framework with Dr. Randy Olson).

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