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The Litigation Consulting Report

Who Are The Highest-Rated Jury Consultants?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Dec 1, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

top jury consulting firms top rated voted jury consultantsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Every year, our firm receives awards in a variety of litigation consulting and blogging categories. I don't often promote those achievements in this blog, as I regard the blog as primarily educational in nature.

However, I do believe that there is real value in knowing which firms your peers are rating highest in the industry. Not only does this help you save time and energy when you want to engage a litigation support firm, it helps you know the up-and-coming firms and what the market trends look like.

Recently, Legal Times, one of a few elite legal publications remaining, asked its readership to identify the best consultants in a variety of categories including e-discovery, legal banking, legal recruiting, and many more. I'm happy to announce that A2L Consulting was voted the number one jury consultant ahead of other industry giants FTI Consulting and DecisionQuest.

Screen_Shot_2015-11-30_at_8.00.34_AM.jpgI've always admired those firms and the work that they do. We are friendly competitors, and I congratulate them on their achievements.

The leader of our jury consulting practice is jury consulting industry veteran Dr. Laurie Kuslansky. Coincidentally, she has held leadership positions with both of the other two top-ranked firms. Her record and reputation in the industry are excellent, and her bio/CV/references can be viewed or downloaded here.

Dr. Kuslansky shares my view that jury consultants alone are not to be relied upon as gospel for advice on jury selection, theme development, and storytelling. This method of jury consulting is antiquated, but still practiced by many jury consultants.

The preferred method for assisting top trial teams is, rather, to listen to the data developed by conducting well-designed mock trials and focus groups. The data is in the form of feedback from mock jurors or mock judges. Any jury consultant can offer a gut instinct (no matter how suspect that instinct is). However, it takes a great jury consultant and jury consulting firm to show restraint and properly interpret the data and feedback from mock jurors and focus group members and know how to blend art and science. The magic comes when a jury consultant can properly obtain good data, interpret it, wisely season it with insightful judgment, and taking in the input of the trial team.

Blindly applying data or narrowly focusing on instinct each has its perils. Likewise, asserting oneself as the smartest person in the room is hardly the team approach clients prefer.

None of the user polls are perfect, but they do provide a useful guide by which to at least assemble a list of potential vendors to consider when potentially headed to trial. The complete Best of the Legal Times 2015 Guidebook may be downloaded by clicking here.

Other A2L Consulting articles about jury consulting, jury consultants, and conducting mock trials:

mock jury webinar a2l kuslansky


Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Jury Consultants

The Top 15 Litigation E-Books & Webinars of 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 @ 03:18 PM

top litigation ebooks webinars 2015 a2l consulting litigation consultants jury graphicsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Every year we publish several free e-books and conduct several free webinars focused on litigation, trial graphics, persuasion, and winning cases, both before and after trial. These are among our more popular products. Thus far in 2015, readers have downloaded a piece of content from our collection of more than 30 e-books and webinars more than 10,000 times.

There is something for everyone in these e-books and webinars, from the latest insights in storytelling to the art of making a great presentation, from how to get a jury to reject junk science to the best way to conduct voir dire. These are not bland marketing materials; they represent the state of the art in our profession, and they are full of useful tips and strategies that lawyers can use.

Our books are typically made up of hand-curated articles culled from over 500 that the team members of A2L Consulting have published over the last five years. 

A2L's webinars are like free mini-CLE courses -- except that they are much more interesting than your typical CLE event.

Our newest type of material is the podcast. These are showing serious promise as more and more readers learn about them and download them. We now have three podcasts available – again, totally free for download. They are: Twelve Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said, Five Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements, and Storytelling in Litigation.

Here are the top 15 litigation e-books and webinars of 2015, ranked in order of the number of times they have been downloaded. It is possible to share each of these resources with your colleagues on Twitter and LinkedIn by clicking the buttons below.

15. How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology

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14. Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool Webinar

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13. The Patent Litigation Toolkit 3rd Ed

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12. The In-House Counsel Litigation Toolkit

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11. Using and Creating Litigation Graphics to Persuade

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10. Winning Your Case BEFORE Trial Webinar

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9. Combating Junk Science E-Book 2nd Ed

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8. Top 75 Articles of All Time E-Book

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7. Litigation Support Toolkit E-Book

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6. The Complex Civil Litigation Guidebook

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5. How To Use and Design Trial Timelines

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4. Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed

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3. Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements Webinar

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2. The Opening Statement Toolkit

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1. The Voir Dire Handbook

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, E-Book, Webinar, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Articles, Voir Dire, Storytelling, Opening, CLE

Dan Pink, Pixar, and Storytelling for the Courtroom

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 @ 10:02 AM

pixar storytelling format courtroom trial litigation dan pinkby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

We talk a lot about storytelling in our A2L blog articles. Our books, webinars, and articles that are focused on storytelling -- like Storytelling for Litigators 3rd Ed.Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool, and 5 Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion -- are among our most popular.

We believe that effective storytelling is central to winning cases, and we've talked about the kind of results you can get when storytelling is used well in $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation and Patent Litigation Graphics + Storytelling Proven Effective: The Apple v. Samsung Jury Speaks.

We've also written several times about how to structure a good story or opening statement for trial in articles like How to Structure Your Next Speech, Opening Statement or PresentationPortray Your Client As a Hero in 17 Easy Storytelling StepsThe Top 14 TED Talks for Lawyers and Litigators 2014, and 5 Keys to Telling a Compelling Story in the Courtroom. However, there are many ways to put together an effective story, and the format matters a great deal.

I had the pleasure of seeing the popular speaker, author, and friend of A2L, Dan Pink, present recently at a marketing conference. Dan has written extensively on the social science behind the sales process, the real nature of human motivation, and the future of American business. Part of the talk that I heard at the conference was about storytelling. More specifically, Dan focused on the oft-discussed, highly successful Pixar storytelling format.

If you have not heard about this format before, it's worth learning. After all Pixar is just about the only movie studio that can make us care deeply about an animated character, whether a fish, a robot, or a kids’ toy. And we certainly want our factfinders to care about our clients the way we all cared about Andy saying goodbye to his toys or what happens when Wall-E is reset and is brought back by his robot girlfriend. But how does this work -- especially when our clients are multi-billion dollar companies, hardly the most sympathetic creatures?

As Dan pointed out, Pixar follows a relatively simple storytelling format, and it is one you can use in your next trial to achieve fantastic storytelling for the courtroom results. The format appears in the first image in this article.

It's pretty simple. Every Pixar film follows this format, and there is hardly anything simple about those plot lines - especially how they make us feel. In case you're reading this in a text-only format, it is:

Once upon a time there was _________. Every day, _________. One day _________. Because of that, _________. Because of that, _________. Until finally _________.

It's a format that could be used for any opening statement, minus the “once upon a time” part, of course. Here's how Dan put together a series of slides to illustrate this point about blogging at the conference I attended.

pixar storytelling for the courtroom

dan pink courtroom storytelling

inbound storytelling

how to tell stories in the courtroom at trial

storytelling for lawyers


complex civil litigation ebook free

Tags: Litigation Consulting, Patent Litigation, Storytelling, Daniel Pink, Persuasive Graphics, Opening, Persuasion

Lawyer Delivers Excellent PowerPoint Presentation

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 @ 02:42 PM

ted talk lawyers lawrence lessig presentation style litigation graphicsby Ken Lopez

A2L Consulting

The title of this article shouldn't sound like a breaking news headline, but let's be honest, it does. Most PowerPoint presentations are bullet-point-riddled text-heavy electronic projections of a speaker's notes. Most lawyer-delivered PowerPoint presentations are the same — just with even more text and smaller fonts.

As a result, a significant majority of speakers (and lawyers) using PowerPoint presentations are hard to understand and dramatically less persuasive than they could be. There are exceptions of course.

The kinds of litigators and others who become clients of A2L Consulting's litigation graphics division are the first exceptions. They typically learn the rules of effective presentation and high-level visual persuasion based on well-established neuroscience principles and rigorous psychological studies.

The second exception is Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor.

I had the pleasure of seeing him deliver a presentation at TEDx MidAtlantic recently. Whether or not one agrees with his message, almost everyone can learn a lot from his presentation style and the methods he used to achieve visual persuasion. Here is a video of that presentation:

Professor Lessig did so many things correctly in this presentation that it is worthy of study by litigators and presenters alike. I'm not going to suggest that this is a perfect presentation for a courtroom environment, but it is a very good model for a situation where you want to persuade an audience to act or see things your way. Still, there are important lessons for the courtroom here.

Understand that when I say this is "a very good model" that I'm not simply giving my opinion (even if it is based on 20+ years of helping litigators win cases using visual persuasion techniques). Rather, this assertion is based on the latest science about what persuades people.

In contrast to my articles pointing out what can go wrong like The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators MakeThe 14 Most Preventable Trial Preparation Mistakes and 6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid, here is a time-coded list of seventeen things I see that Professor Lessig did exceptionally well.

  1. 00:22: Attention Grabbing Words: His first few sentences use words designed to get you interested. When we hear "protest," "Hong Kong," and "China," most people are going to take notice given the historical inconsistency between these terms.

  2. 00:32: Use of Video: Showing moving pictures is more captivating than a still image, and starting off with video serves to draw the audience in emotionally from the very beginning. The fact that this is a protest by children further serves to drawn in the audience emotionally.

  3. 00:55: Text Highlighting. It is generally a bad idea to read what is on screen. Notice how you don't really understand what he is reading while you're looking at it. That's because of the split attention effect. When he takes away the unnecessary words, you see exactly what he wants you to remember. That is a good method of highlighting your key message.

  4. 1:05: Pace Change: He begins his presentation slowly to draw in the audience in the first 30 seconds and now changes his pace to start to make his case. Changing the pace of one's speech is excellent for keeping interest. You'll notice he slows down at the end as well. In fact, he slows down whenever he wants to make an emotional point and make it stick
    storytelling for judge jury courtroom best method for trial persuasion and emotion
  5. 1:07: Clear and Easy-to-Understand Persuasive Graphics: The imagery is simple and supports a simple point. There are two steps, and a small group stands in the middle to act as a filter. He uses a nice clear graphic to describe gerrymandering at 13:51 as well. Litigation graphics do not have to be complex to be effective. See Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest and 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

  6. 1:20: Proper Font Size: Except here for making a point, Professor Lessig rarely gets below 28 point font size. See 12 Ways to Eliminate "But I Need Everything On That PowerPoint Slide."

  7. 1:28: Use of Information Design Principles: I wrote about the use of dots to represent small numbers in Securities Litigation Graphics and Juror Communication, and it is a useful technique, especially when combined with a more literal explanation and an oral explanation.

  8. 2:35: Appropriate Use of Humor: He works in a House of Cards reference without ever saying a thing and draws a big laugh. Humor certainly does not always work in the courtroom, but in this environment, it is entirely appropriate.

  9. 4:09: Analogy: Notice how Professor Lessig connects the concepts of China, Tweeds, Whites, Funders and more using the same text graphic and changing one word to carry through an analogy. He does this again at 7:50 when flipping between the America and China slides. See Courtroom Exhibits: Analogies and Metaphors as Persuasion Devices and Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers.

  10. 6:42: Nod to Steve Jobs: From the background used to the font size to the black mock turtleneck to the style of presentation generally, Professor Lessig is clearly a student of the extremely effective Steve Jobs-style presentation technique. See the 4th video in my article 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere), and you'll see exactly what I mean.

  11. 8:15: Immersive Graphics Presentation Style: We've written about the Broda-Bahm study demonstrating that the use of an immersive style (frequently changing and persistently used) of presentation has been shown to have the most persuasive effect on jurors. Professor Lessig uses this technique better than just about every lawyer that I've seen present.

  12. 11:42 and Throughout: Repetition: His use of visual repetition of charts and oral repetition is excellent. Count how many times he mentions "inequality" here. We wrote about how important repetition is for persuasion recently in A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial.

  13. 17:00 Repetition and Rule of Three: Following in the footsteps of MLK, Winston Churchill, and others, Professor Lessig uses a classic rhetorical technique called Anaphora when he repeats his "you want - we will not get" phrase three times over.

  14. 17:33: Hard to Read Fonts: If you want to get your audience to pay attention, give them something hard to read. He uses that approach here with his "most important problem" slide. We wrote about this technique being used to overcome confirmation bias in Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias.

    litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology
  15. 18:31: Return the Focus to the Speaker: Watch as he decelerates the volume of slides to return the focus to the speaker. This is intentional and signals he is done with the presentation of evidence and moving on to his closing.

  16. 19:25: Closing: He contrasts reality with a dream of equality and makes his emotional plea. He contrasts between potential and reality or as Nancy Duarte described it, what is vs. what could be.

  17. Throughout: Surprise: From font changes to the incorporation of video to the use of humor to his constantly varying slide style, Professor Lessig uses surprise to keep the audience engaged. It may be the most important persuasion technique used throughout the presentation, and we have written about it in Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? and 5 Ways to Apply Active Teaching Methods for Better Persuasion.

There is a lot more Professor Lessig did right in this presentation, but these are some of the highlights. If you have been a reader of this blog for some time, these techniques should sound familiar. They are techniques employed by the world's best persuaders, they are the techniques we incorporate into our litigation graphics work, and every one of them can be used at trial to persuade more effectively.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to PowerPoint presentations, visual presentation and rhetorical techniques:

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Presentation Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

How We Judge People Is Shaped Mostly By Who We THINK They Are

Posted by Ryan Flax on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 @ 12:52 PM

photography client lawyer portrayby Ryan H. Flax
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & General Counsel
A2L Consulting

It’s always interesting to me how humans view and judge each other. We all do it almost all of the time, in every interaction with other people. We even do it when we don’t even interact with others, for example, while driving or watching TV. We develop little dramas and characters in our minds to make sense of the world around us and its characters.

This is particularly important in my profession, where my goal is to help litigators frame their case or showcase their client in a compelling and engaging way for judge or jury. I’ve just watched the video below and it highlights how important it is to frame our clients’ character correctly when we want a decision maker to see things our way. That “correct” way of introducing our client is whatever way will result in a decision in our favor – Ask: what would make the judge or jury feel our client should prevail?

What we see in this little experiment is the audience, here photographers, were introduced to their subject in a very specific way, that is, as a successful man, an alcoholic, a hero, a criminal, a working man, etc., and this framing of the character dictated how they saw that subject going forward. It also dictated how the photographers then presented the character to the world – in the photos they took. We see that the group of photographers themselves, upon reviewing each other’s photographs, noted that the subject/character looked like a completely different person in each of their pictures. To each of them, he was a completely different person and they judged him based on that framing.

So, this (non-scientific) experiment sheds light on the importance of how we frame and introduce our clients (and ourselves, too) to judges and juries. What we can honestly and convincingly convey to jurors about our client to make them a sympathetic, honorable, trustworthy, or dedicated (or whatever superlative you like) character, and, on the flip-side, portray our opposition as just the opposite, can go a long way toward providing the right lens through which your audience views your case and evidence.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to storytelling and portraying your client's image intentionally:

storytelling for judge jury courtroom best method for trial persuasion and emotion

Tags: Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Consulting, Psychology, Storytelling, Expert Witness

Do Professionally Designed PowerPoint Slides Get Better Results?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Nov 3, 2015 @ 09:50 AM

powerpoint professional graphic designer amatuer lawyer litigatorby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

In my last post, 7 Bad Habits of Law Firm Litigators, I wrote about the problems caused by litigators who, even when they have an adequate budget, design their own PowerPoint slides for trial. I've seen this result in:

Well, there's new problem to add to this list of challenges faced by litigators who design their own slides, and it was just revealed by a brand new study conducted by the Missouri School of Journalism and the Washington Post.

This study found that good visual design in online articles has been conclusively shown to promote reader interest, enjoyment, emotional engagement, ease of understanding, learning, and curiosity. Using brain, skin, and other biometric studies to analyze the effect on readers, the study's author found that clean and professional looking designs caused readers to be more engaged in almost every respect. The more streamlined the design, the better the results.

In this study (and in general), good design means breaking text into small manageable snippets, highlighting key points, and removing distracting elements from the screen. As the author noted, "If a story is presented well, readers will enjoy it more and engage with it more deeply." Isn't this precisely what litigators want from the PowerPoint presentations that support their expert witnesses and their own opening and closing presentations?

However, how many litigators are actually comfortable producing PowerPoint slides with a clean and uncluttered page design? In my experience (see How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?), not many. Yet the benefits of clean visual design have rarely been so clearly articulated. Thus, it would seem that reliance on professional litigation graphic designers is more important than ever before. It's just not enough to use a PowerPoint template, some bullet points, and a goldfish photo and think you are producing good design.

At first glance, these new findings might seem to run counter to some things I've said before in articles like Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest or Good-Looking Graphic Design ≠ Good-Working Visual Persuasion, but I think it would wrong to draw that conclusion. Actually, I think these new findings are entirely consistent with our experience and these and other articles we've published like Why Expensive-Looking Litigation Graphics Are Better. The challenges for anyone designing litigation graphics in PowerPoint are many and include:

  • varying visual styles throughout a presentation intentionally to maintain interest;
  • mixing mediums with other tools like trial boards to maintain interest;
  • knowing when to show a blank screen;
  • knowing how and when to use fonts for emphasis and obfuscation;
  • knowing how and when to use fonts to overcome confirmation bias;
  • knowing how to use surprise to overcome confirmation bias;
  • avoiding the triggering of the split-attention effect;
  • knowing how switching between versions of PowerPoint will affect slides;
  • knowing how to properly embed video in PowerPoint slides;
  • understanding and using color theory;
  • matching the graphic style to the jury and judge;
  • avoiding bullet points like the plague;
  • keeping Rule 403 in mind with every slide;
  • just keeping text large enough on screen;
  • considering color choice and contrast for the display medium;
  • building incredibly complicated PowerPoint animations for a fraction of the cost of 3D animation;
  • avoiding black hat techniques;
  • decluttering slides;
  • building in a story;
  • knowing best practices for document call-outs of all types;
  • understanding how to use highlighting correctly to maintain image quality;
  • knowing how to manage PowerPoint presentation file size by managing images correctly;
  • understanding version control and enforcing it in the run-up to trial;
  • blending video and still images to maintain interest;
  • limiting text to small digestible chunks;
  • creating an emotional journey with your slides;
  • creating points of emphasis so that the critical can be easily separated from the superfluous;
  • trying to keep slide content limited to one key takeaway per slide;
  • and there's a lot more too.

It's a long list, right? And it's why I've said, litigation graphics are much more complicated than you think, and just because you can use PowerPoint (of course you can), don't assume you should design your own litigation graphics. You literally won't know what you are missing until it is too late.

More A2L articles, free downloadable e-books, and free webinars about good design, PowerPoint for lawyers and visual persuasion:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology


Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Psychology, Storytelling, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Trial Boards, Information Design

7 Bad Habits of Law Firm Litigators

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 @ 11:08 AM

attorney bad habits lawyer trial courtroomby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

In our role as trial consultants, we frequently work with some of the top law firm litigators in the nation, as well as with in-house counsel for some of the nation’s major companies. Ideally, we form a cohesive team that works seamlessly to provide outstanding trial representation and to win cases.

Occasionally, we find that law firm litigators are engaging in bad habits that can increase inefficiency, cost the client money, and decrease the chances of winning at trial. Here are seven of them.

1. Lawyers designing PowerPoint slides. Anyone who went to law school can of course use PowerPoint. Generating PowerPoint slides is not difficult, and lawyers are smart. Many lawyers can even make PowerPoint slides that look nice. But:

a. It's not about pretty slides, it's about effective slides, and the rules for how to create those take years to learn. See Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest

b. A lawyer doing slides costs the same or more per hour than a litigation graphics expert doing slides. Classically, you could cut your own hair, but why would you? See How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?

c. A lawyer creating slides does not know the tricks of the trade. See Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer)

d. A lawyer creating slides will likely tell a chronological story instead of an effective story. See Don't Be Just Another Timeline Trial Lawyer

e. A law firm might claim to have in-house litigation graphics expertise (See 13 Reasons Law Firm Litigation Graphics Departments Have Bad Luck). But ask yourself: How many trials does that law firm do per year? For even the largest firms, that answer may be a couple dozen. How many cases does that lone artist work on? A small percentage of what is already a small number? Contrast that with a litigation consulting firm with graphics expertise that might do 50 or 100 trials per year concentrated among a handful of key staff. See With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

2. Paralegals running trial technology. This is pretty common, and I'm not as adamant about this as I am about content creation. Still, when something goes wrong, you want to have one or more people on the team who have been to hundreds of trials, not a few. You might save some money by keeping the service in-house, but the savings are small if any, and the trade-off is a lot of risk. Free Download: How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology 

3. Conducting in-house mock trials. I call this getting high on your own supply. You should pick mock jurors from a broad base of people that mirrors your likely jury. See 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them

4. Lawyers running PowerPoint at trial. It often works, but it often does not work. Why would you allow your litigators to create risk with almost no benefit? See Making Good Use of Trial Director & Demonstratives in an Arbitration and 12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout

5. Outside litigators who are afraid to ask for help. Litigation is one of the few competitive areas in which people are afraid to rely on coaches, best practices, and experts, and that makes no sense. Even Michael Jordan had a coach. See Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators

6. Outside trial counsel who is afraid to ask for a needed budget item. They often see a pie of a set size, and asking for budget for a mock trial or other litigation consulting support, might take pie away. You should instead see a pie whose size can be changed when it makes sense. See In-House Counsel Should Make Outside Litigation Counsel Feel Safe

7. Outside litigators who conduct frighteningly last-minute preparation for trial. I really think the days of the cowboy litigator who rides in at the 11th hour and charismatically bends a jury to his will are largely over. The opposition is much more sophisticated now, and so are juries. See The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation

Have you ever seen any of these habits play out?

Other articles and resources by A2L Consulting focusing on trial preparation, the relationship between in-house counsel and outside litigators and on winning cases generally include:

in-house counsel litigation toolkit e-book free download



Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, PowerPoint, In-House Counsel

Top 10 Litigation & Persuasion Articles from Q3 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Oct 23, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

top 10 litigation persuasion articles a2l consulting q3 2015by Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

In a recent post, I discussed why we blog here at A2L, and I pointed to the very positive side effects of blogging in terms of revenue growth. Today, I'm returning to one of my favorite things -- highlighting the most popular articles of the previous quarter. In this case, it was the third quarter of 2015.

I think that many of our 7,500 subscribers can't read all of the articles that we post. It can be two or three a week, the equivalent of about 10 every month. But our readers don’t want to miss the very best ones either.

These 10 articles below were, in effect, voted the very best by our readership in the third quarter. It’s simple: A visit to the article is a vote, as we keep track of exactly how many visits each article receives. We do this to continually get a better sense of what our readers want to read. Some of our articles may only be read a couple of hundred times while others may be read tens of thousands of times.

Last quarter, two series dominated our top 10 articles. The first is by our Managing Director of Litigation Consulting, Ryan Flax. It’s a four-part series and webinar titled Winning Before Trial. It is focused on persuasion strategies that an attorney can use successfully, even before going to trial. Ryan's articles are especially popular among litigators, as Ryan is himself a litigator and expert in storytelling and the development of persuasive litigation graphics.

The second series is one that I wrote called Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel. I was prompted to write this series after speaking to a group of defense counsel about the “reptile” tactic, a plaintiff-focused trial tactic that is working its way into the kind of cases we typically work on. I was happy to see this series become so popular as I feel it is very important for all lawyers to understand this tactic.

Below are the top 10 articles. Each has been formatted for easy reading, liking and sharing.

10. Social Proof and Jurors

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9. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 2 - Parallel Trial Preparation Tactics

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8. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 1 - Consider Litigation Costs and Opportunities

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7. The Best Litigators Love Sales, Love Storytelling and Persuasion

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6. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 4 - Don't Overlook Visual Persuasion

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5. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 3 - Storytelling for Lawyers

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4. How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?

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3. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 4 - 7 Reasons the Tactic Still Works

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2. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 3 - Understanding the Bad Science

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1. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 5 - 12 Ways to Kill the Reptile

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a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time


Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Articles, Storytelling, PowerPoint, Opening, Reptile Trial Strategy

Group Psychology, Voir Dire, Jury Selection and Jury Deliberations

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 01:04 PM

mock-jury-jury-selection-jury-consultants-voir-direby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Since first being exposed to the group psychology work of Wilfred Bion 15 years ago, I've been completely fascinated by it. I think his theories perfectly explain the behavior of every group that I've ever encountered. From boards that I sit on to groups on reality TV shows, they all behave in the same predictable ways, especially when placed under pressure.

I think the author Robert Young captures the essence of the group dynamics model Bion describes when he says, "My experience was that, sure enough, from time to time each group would fall into a species of madness and start arguing and forming factions over matters which, on later reflection, would not seem to justify so much passion and distress. More often than not, the row would end up in a split or in the departure or expulsion of one or more scapegoats."

I've written about Bion's work before in 5 Signs of a Dysfunctional Trial Team (and What to Do About It) and When a Good Trial Team Goes Bad: The Psychology of Team Anxiety. These articles and Young's article from the Human Nature Review provide a good introduction to Bion's group dynamics model. Here are the key aspects of Bion’s group dynamics model.

In Bion's framework, groups are always functioning in one of two modes. Either they are working or they are operating dysfunctionally (he called this later state the Basic Assumption State). Both groups rely on a leader, and the members interact with the leader in predictable ways. In the working group, the group gets things done. They understand the meaning of the task at hand and cooperate to get it done without unnecessary emotional distress.

In the dysfunctional group, much less gets done, and the group moves through a progressively worse set of dysfunctional behaviors triggered by some anxiety or pressure. Initially, the dysfunctional group will attempt to look to the leader to make the anxiety go away by treating the leader as a type of wise superhuman. If that fails to make the anxiety go away, two or more members of the group will begin to conspire to replace the leader or form a new group, If that does not work, fighting and/or departures will begin. All of this is subconscious, but once you understand the patterns, you'll see them everywhere. Knowing where you are in the process of dysfunction can be one of the most valuable tools a manager, leader or consultant can have.

I bet you can guess another group that behaves in predictable ways that I have an interest in — that's right, juries. And they certainly behave in ways that solidly fit Bion's group dynamics model. If you understand how this works, you can use this knowledge during jury selection.

Our team has seen thousands of juries deliberate. That's unusual since jury deliberations are secret. Of course, when we see them deliberating, often four juries at a time, it is behind the one-way mirrors of mock trial facilities. The behavior we see from jury to jury is remarkably consistent. We've detailed some of these behaviors in the article 10 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said and the webinar and the podcast 12 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said. Furthermore, an article by A2L's Managing Director of Jury Consulting, Dr. Laurie Kuslansky, called 10 Ways to Spot Your Jury Foreman is a useful background piece for those interested in this area of study.

When a jury is operating effectively (a well functioning working group as described by Bion), it focuses systematically and logically on the task at hand. This jury moves through the evidence in an orderly way and avoids a result-driven approach to deliberations.

There is much that a litigator can do to help a jury operate in this way, including explaining to the jury how to calculate or why they shouldn't calculate damages, illustrating how to work through the verdict form, and making the case clear and compelling through the use of storytelling and professionally designed demonstrative evidence.

But, what if a jury becomes anxious? What if unanimity is required and there is a holdout (e.g. 12 Angry Men)? What if there is strong disagreement among jurors? What if the case is hopelessly confusing? Under these circumstances, a jury can become dysfunctional. Unfortunately, this happens more often than it should.

I asked our own Dr. Laurie Kuslansky about the application of group dynamics to juries, and she shared some key ideas to remember.

"Most jurors start out with a false consensus," she said. “They believe everyone will think the way that they do. If we do not screen for leadership and get the right amount on our jury, a jury becomes far less predictable. This is especially true if we are in a venue where it is socially acceptable to stand your ground like the Southern District of New York."

Juries are not irrational, they just look at things differently than a lawyer. They are looking for experts in the group, and they are looking for leadership. As we help to assemble a jury during the jury selection process, a key part of our job, both as jury consultants and as litigators, is to ensure the right types of leaders are present. If we do our job well, we can achieve better control over group dynamics.

Other articles and resources related to group dynamics, jury selection and jury consulting from A2L Consulting include:

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Tags: Jury Questionnaire, Jury Consulting, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Psychology, Leadership

Why We Blog (and Maybe Your Firm Should Too)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 04:10 PM

blog blawg storytelling inbound marketing lawyers content marketing attorneysby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

A new friend of mine had been the head of litigation at a Fortune 500 firm known for frequently being involved in litigation. He said something interesting to me earlier this week: “You guys put the best information out there. You synthesize litigation information better than anyone else. But does it translate into business for you?”

He said that last part with a bit of skepticism in his voice. That was an “aha” moment for me. I realized that I really haven’t talked much about how helpful our blogging has been to our business (and might be for yours), so I want to share some of the amazing facts about it.

A month ago, we celebrated our 7,500th subscriber who signed up to be notified of new articles in this Litigation Consulting Report Blog. In just four and a half years, we have gone from zero subscribers to 7,500. We have progressed from 800 visitors to our website each month to about 20,000. We've gone from a small handful of downloads from our website each month to about 2,000 per month. We've gone from a couple dozen published articles to more than 500. Even the American Bar Association has called our blog one of the very best. That is amazing, and I've shared most of that information in some form before.

Here's the most important piece I've never shared, and it's what I shared with my new litigation friend: Just about every business day, sometimes many times per day, someone asks about working with us as a result of reading something on our blog.

Five years ago, I thought a blog would be a neat way for us to show some thought leadership in the industry, but I didn't really think it would be a big business generator. I was wrong. The blog generates most of our business now, and I am more surprised about that fact than anyone.

Five years ago, we pulled in most of our jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology/courtroom hot-seat consulting work by calling prospects on the phone (repeatedly). Most of our competitors still do this. I just never believed that annoying people into buying from us was a good long-term strategy, and I think history has proven us right.

Our blog generates exactly the kind of business that we are great at. If someone reads our blog and enjoys it, it means they tend to think as we do as an organization. It means they are serious about winning and willing to do what it takes to win. They probably also have an understanding of the proven persuasive power of storytelling, of litigation graphics, of the rhetorical techniques we share with our clients and of the value of outsourcing some of these elements of trial preparation to experts. It self-selects the very best litigators who typically go on to win cases. 

So, I can't say that we blog for the money, but it is a very pleasant side effect. We blog because we love the work that we do. We live in the courtroom every day, and there are not many people like us. We love to share our message and hopefully to elevate the entire industry in the process.

A blog is the most classic and best example of inbound marketing – the type of marketing that is considered the best and most successful type in the Internet age. Inbound marketing focuses on creating high-quality content that pulls people toward one’s company and one’s services. By aligning the content that we publish with our customers’ interests -- through the blog, the articles that we write and other means -- we naturally attract inbound traffic that, over time, becomes our best source of new customers.

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Tags: Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Articles, Marketing, Business Development, blog

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KenLopez resized 152

Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.

ryanflax blog litigation consultant 

Ryan H. Flax, Esq., Managing Director, Litigation Consulting, joined A2L Consulting on the heels of practicing Intellectual Property (IP) law as part of the Intellectual Property team at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a national law firm based in Washington, DC.  Over the course of his career, Ryan has obtained jury verdicts totaling well over $1 billion in damages on behalf of his clients and has helped clients navigate the turbulent waters of their competitors’ patents.  Ryan can be reached at flax@a2lc.com.

dr laurie kuslansky jury consultant a2l consulting
Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D, Managing Director, Trial & Jury Consulting, has conducted over 400 mock trials in more than 1,000 litigation engagements over the past 20 years. Dr. Kuslansky's goal is to provide the highest level of personalized client service possible whether one's need involves a mock trial, witness preparation, jury selection or a mock exercise not involving a jury. Dr. Kuslansky can be reached at kuslansky@A2LC.com.

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