The most important minutes of an arbitration hearing; are those at the opening. It is then that the arbitrator's perceptions of the issues are formed. While those perceptions may be refined, deepened, or modified In many ways as the hearing evolves, first impressions are surprisingly persistent.
First impressions may create the analytical framework through which the arbitrator receives and evaluates the evidence and contentions. They communicate verbal and nonverbal, explicit and implicit signals that may lead the arbitrator to make tentative judgments about the nature of the dispute, the quality of the evidence, and tbe skill of the advocates. It is during the first minutes of the hearing that the arbitrator's attention is most sharply focused because it is then that he or she learns what the job is, what must be decided.
For these reasons, the opening statement presents the advocate with an invaluable opportunity. Many imaginative advocates seize that opportunity and use it to great advantage. They know that there is considerable artistry in good advocacy. And artists know that first statements— opening statements—have an inescapable impact.' Why lose an opportunity?