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Heels of Justice

Mar 28, 2019

Welcome to Heels of Justice; these are the stories of women lawyers who are trailblazers in their field and paved the way for the rest of us.

Today, the Heels of Justice interview Juanita Brooks, one of the foremost trial lawyers in the country. She is a Principal in Fish & Richardson’s San Diego office and a member of the firm’s Management Committee. In 2016, Law360 named Ms. Brooks an “Icon of IP” for her “skill at trying complicated patent cases without getting bogged down in the technical weeds” and said she is a “jury whisperer.” She has also been dubbed “a titan of the patent bar,” having served as lead counsel in multiple trials each year and handling more than 150 trials throughout her career.


Key Takeaways

[:33] Sarita welcomes Juanita Brooks — a titan of the patent bar, the Jury Whisperer — to the Heels of Justice podcast.

[1:18] What pushed Juanita to law, and what path led her to become a trial lawyer.

[2:37] Sarita asks why Juanita felt out of place at Yale.

[4:15] On an encouraging professor.

[6:32] Sarita asks if Juanita’s mother was proud, is proud…

[7:54] In the end, how was her experience at Yale?

[9:16] Sarita asks what Juanita did after Law school?

[10:08] Juanita talks about her first federal case trial, two weeks after being sworn in.

[11:15] 150 trials are more than enough to become a master storyteller. Sarita asks Juanita to paint a picture of a very emotional story she had to tell in court.

[18:05] Juanita explains the three components of persuasion that she has used for trial preparation for a long time.

[21:34] Sarita asks if Juanita experienced a loss that changed the way she approached trials.

[24:44] So how does Juanita develop her strategy for a trial? Listen in to get an in-depth, detailed breakdown of her process. 

[32:41] What about once the trial has begun?

[35:30 ] Sarita asks how Juanita cracks her closing.

[36:46] “You mean ‘how do you not die when you’re suffering from verdict death?’”

[37:58] Sarita asks if there was ever a moment Juanita advocated for herself?

[40:01] Was there ever a time when being a woman or a latina woman been a challenge or an advantage for Juanita?

[43:14] Having received so many, what award is Juanita the proudest of.

[45:08] Sarita thanks Juanita for sharing so much of her experience on the Heels of Justice podcast and she signs off until next time.


That’s it for this episode of Heels of Justice; if you like the stories we’re telling, please visit our website. You can join our mailing list, learn more about our guests, and see what we have planned for the future.

You can also follow us on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Disclaimer: The opinions you have heard are ours or our guest’s alone. They’re not the opinions of our employers, or our clients, or our bosses, and not our husbands, kids or pets, or anyone else’s.


Mentioned in this episode (chronological order)

Yale Law School

Thomas Swan Barrister’s Union — Yale Law

Moot Court

Judge Edward Bennett William

San Diego State University

International Council on World Affairs

Harvard Law School

Federal Defender Office in San Diego




Duress defense


Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena Salazar

Rafael Caro Quintero

1954 speech by Judge Simon H. Rifkind — “The Romance Discoverable in Patent Cases”

Jury Consultant

Dr. Phil

John DeLorean

Back to the Future

DeLorean Motor Company

Lotus Cars

Colin Chapman



Blake Carrington

J.R. Ewing

Dailies (court transcript)

California State Bar Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame


More about the Heels of Justice, Sarita Venkat, and Katherine Minarik

Heels of Justice on the Web

Heels of Justice on Twitter

Heels of Justice on Instagram

Heels of Justice on Facebook


Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on Twitter

Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge


Juanita’s personal stories (edited)

“Many moons ago, I represented a gentleman by the name of John DeLorean who made this motor car called the DeLorean that was in back to the future. I represented John in a case where he was accused of embezzling 17 million dollars from the DeLorean Motor Company, and sure enough, the government could show that the money did go from the DeLorean Motor Company to this holding company, and from this holding company to John’s personal bank account. Our defense was that the money was actually a loan from Lotus Cars — a privately held company run by Colin Chapman — that had been doing R&D on the DeLorean car. The problem was that Colin Chapman was dead, and there were no loan documents. How are we going to convince a jury that someone would loan 17 million dollars on a handshake? Without even an IOU? Well back in those days, there were two TV shows that were very popular, one was called Dynasty and one was called Dallas and each of them had lead characters (Blake Carrington and J.R. Ewing) and either of those characters would have absolutely loaned 17 million dollars on a handshake! So we thought that jurors who watch those shows would get it, and be more open to it!”


More about Juanita Brooks

Juanita Brooks bio on Fish & Richardson

California State Bar Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame Induction