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The Litigation Consulting Report

5 Key Lessons You Can Learn From Mock Juries

Posted by Katie Bagwill on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 @ 01:32 PM

mock-jury-focus-group-mock-trial-jury-consultants.jpgby Katie Bagwill
A2L Consulting

Watching a mock jury deliberate is a lot like watching Dr. Phil; there is a lot of arguing, and most of the “facts” end up skewed. Nevertheless, a mock jury’s conclusions and how they reach them are essential to any lawyer who wants to understand the weaknesses of his or her case. Here are some of my takeaways from observing this fascinating exercise recently.

  1. Be clear. If a point or idea you want to instill in the jury isn’t clarified enough, you will see it warped and interpreted wildly during the deliberations. During each mock presentation that I saw, the amount of attention paid and the volume of notes taken varied, but one constant seemed to be apparent: jurors want to feel as if they have all the information. Even if they don’t, once they have a firm opinion, they will use any of the “facts” they have to defend it. Naturally you want these facts to be in your favor, but for the sake of this exercise it is actually more beneficial to you for the stacks to be weighted against you. In order to improve, you need to know how you could lose.
  1. Be passionate but humble. It is important for the jury to feel empathetic toward your client, and for that to happen they need to connect with you. While presenting your case, you want to appear confident and informed without coming off as arrogant. Persuasion is all about presentation. One of the most important notes that our mock jurors made about one of our presenters was that he seemed “smug,” which made him seem sneaky, and it spiraled from there.
  1. Honesty is the best policy for your mock juries – by far. An important factor for an experiment, the mock trial, to be generalizable to the greater population, the entire jury pool, is that participants be honest in their answers. In our exercise, we had remote devices that each participant used to answer our questions, and we received feedback in real time. To set the stage of how they should answer the questions, a test question was asked, “Have you ever driven over the speed limit?” The expected answer would be “yes” across the board, assuming that all participants drive. However, in our group we had one “no” and one “not applicable.” The former had been unsure of “how serious it was” and apologized for not answering completely honestly, while the latter seemed to just be completely in denial. The idea that, “it doesn’t count because everyone else was doing it, but I was the only one caught,” is a dangerous mindset in a child and even scarier in an adult. With this experience in mind, you should remember not to put too much weight on any individual’s answer to one question, but rather look at the patterns of decision-making in the group.
  1. Ignorance is not bliss. The people who paid the least amount of attention during the presentations seemed to be the biggest talkers in the deliberation room. This would confirm the idea of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which less competent people believe they are more competent, and more competent people doubt themselves. This is a scary idea in theory, and even scarier in practice. Imagine you are being tried by a jury full of people who don’t really understand any of the facts of the case, but their “instincts” tell them you’re guilty. Unfortunately, these people don’t wear a sign around their necks professing their ignorance, and you’re just going to have to gather as much other information about their decision-making during voir dire as you can. In the exercise I observed, it was sad to see that there were a handful of participants whose bloated confidence in their opinions kept all opposing mock jurors silent for fear of being yelled into submission.
  1. Be prepared in advance. Once you’re selecting your jury or presenting your case in court, it is too late to start thinking about how you will keep the jury on your side. Using a mock jury will separate the “good” evidence in your presentation from the “bad” while you still have time to reshape your narrative.
      

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

Jury Consulting Mock Trial

Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Psychology, Persuasion

How to Be a Great Expert Witness (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Klapper on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 @ 10:57 AM

expert-witness-visual-persuasion.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

In my last post, I talked about the fact that an expert witness needs to express her expertise in a convincing way – but also in a way that the typical juror can understand and not in the language of a specialist.

The next step in becoming a truly effective expert witness is to understand the power and the importance of visual learning.

It’s a safe bet that your peer-reviewed articles contain tens of thousands of words. Your academic poster contains hundreds, maybe thousands, of words. Your PowerPoint presentations delivered to your peers contain bullet point after bullet point of words (and maybe a smattering of cartoons).  

Ask yourself: How many television commercials convey the importance of the advertised product through words? How many magazine advertisements do the same through words? How many movies convey their story through words? How many architects explain their designs through words? How many patents have no pictures and just words? And how many biology textbooks have no illustrations and just words? In all these instances, the visual is what matters.

Studies have shown that two-thirds of jurors learn primarily through visual means. And the need for visuals becomes even greater when the information being conveyed is highly complex. That does not mean that you should simply rely on Excel charts, images of equations, and chemical formulas to convey your points. It means that you should consider incorporating litigation graphics as demonstrative evidence for your opinion testimony.

Explaining with 2D animation in PowerPoint how the mucociliary escalator removes inhaled particles from the body is far more effective than just talking about it. Describing through an interactive timeline the complex series of steps that were employed to design and build a consumer product is far more effective than just talking about it. And demonstrating through high-quality photographs and well-placed arrows that the key component of your client’s widget looks nothing like the component claimed in the allegedly infringed patent is far more effective than just talking about it.

When working with counsel to prepare your direct examination, you should demand that time be spent not just on what you are going to say but also on how to present it visually. If possible, find opportunities to leave the witness stand and demonstrate your point with physical evidence, or draw a picture on the flip chart. The more you are the teacher and not the talking head, the more likely the jury will connect with you and find you credible.

In our next post, we will discuss the proper state of mind for the testifying expert.

Other articles from A2L Consulting discussing the importance of visual learning, PowerPoint, and expert witness testimony:

expert witness trial testimony ebook a2l ims

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Advocacy Graphics, Expert Witness, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Judges, Persuasion

7 Ways to Overcome Cognitive Bias and Persuade

Posted by Alex Brown on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 @ 04:50 PM

cognitive-bias-persuasion-a2l-litigation-consultants.jpgby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

I read an article today that can be applied to our industry so well that I thought I should apply its lessons. The article was written by Eddie Shleyner and is titled: How to Defeat Your Most Dangerous Writing Habit: 7 Ways to Lift 'The Curse of Knowledge'

The article highlights the concept of being cursed due to knowing too much. The issue refers to someone who has studied a subject so thoroughly that it becomes difficult to explain it to people who don’t know as much about the subject.

As an example, he discusses the book, Made to Stick, where the Heath brothers provide an example: “Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.”

Cognitive bias is what we are talking about. Shleyner notes that this is particularly dangerous to writers, since in conversation, a listener can ask questions to clarify the issue. But litigators, when giving an opening or closing statement, are in the same boat as writers since they are unable to ask or receive questions from their audience.

So, how can you defeat this curse? Ironically, more knowledge is the answer. The more you know about the curse, the less likely you will succumb to it and the more persuasive you will be. Let’s take a look at his seven best practices to combating this curse and apply them to our industry.

1. Know your audience’s base subject knowledge.

Jury Research. Focus Groups, Mock Exercises. Basically, you need to know your audience. Not only to know how they think, but why, what, who, where and the often forgotten wow. Learn how they think, learn the history to know why they think this way, but most importantly, figure out how to say it in a way that will wow them and be remembered.

Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom

5 Reasons Why Jury Consulting Is Very Important

Group Psychology, Voir Dire, Jury Selection and Jury Deliberations


2. Tone down your vocabulary.

cognitive-bias-synapse.jpgSpeak to the audience, not at the audience. A sure way to do this is to talk to them in a way that they will not only be able to understand, but also remember. Last night I was working on AP Psychology with my oldest (a junior in high school) and we were discussing the structure of the brain and the nervous system, specifically the identification of synapse gaps and the different interfaces.  I used the concept of roundabouts and how they connect roads. It fits but I did not consider the audience, since my daughter does not drive yet. My wife talked about soldering and it clicked since my daughter is doing that currently in her mechanical engineering class. Remember to speak “to” your audience, not “at” or “down” to them.

21 Steps I Took For Great Public Speaking Results

8 Habits of Successful and Persuasive Public Speakers

 

3. Tell a story.

At least 65% of your audience will be or consider himself or herself a visual learner. This means that they relate better and retain information at a higher rate through visuals or graphics. No matter how well you can paint a picture with words, the majority of your audience actually wants pictures. So that’s what you give them.

Litigators, Portray Your Client As a Hero In 17 Easy Storytelling Steps

6 Ways to Become a Better Storyteller

10 Videos to Help Litigators Becme Better at Storytelling

Storytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive

  

4. Ditch the abstractions.

Abstraction involves induction of ideas or the synthesis of facts into one general theory. It is the opposite of specification, which is the analysis or breaking-down of a general idea or abstraction into concrete facts. Basically, give examples that are concrete. Example:

ABSTRACT: Americans must be willing to protect our freedoms. 

CONCRETE: Voters must protect their Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches and seizures by calling or writing their representatives to protest the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. 

 

5. Provide examples.

Unlike abstractions, examples put concepts into perspective. In one of our cases involving alleged improper laddering transactions, the client was envisioning an abstract concept of showing a runner in a marathon jumping ahead and how in essence the opposition was intimating that this affected all the other racers in a way that was unfair or even illegal. We struggled with the concept because we could not guarantee that everyone who saw this would go down the same path and reach the same conclusion. Instead, we came up with the “dots” slide, which ended up appealing to the jurors’ sense of logic and was memorable.

ipo-class-action-dots-resized-600.jpg

As you can tell, this was done a few years ago, but it does not diminish the impact. Examples based on concrete concepts are usually more persuasive then abstract concepts.

 

6. Use visuals.

Bullet points are not visuals. Visuals reinforce the message and they are not meant to be redundant reiterations of what you are saying. Here are some good examples in these photos.

bullet-points-gates-jobs-bad-kill-bullets.jpg

12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad

The Redundancy Effect

Should You Read Documents Out Loud at Trial?

Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?

7. Get an outside point of view.

When we are creating images/graphics for the matters we are supporting, we always discuss it amongst ourselves, the clients, strangers passing by… pretty much everyone. Not because we are worried or just want to show off, but because the input is invaluable to get the most persuasive graphic for our audience to connect with and understand. Why would it be different when considering your opening, closing or witness interviews or cross. Get people together to hear and see what you are planning on saying. Use peers and A2L in a MicroMock so we can review the message, and how you are delivering it.

Introducing a New Litigation Consulting Service: the Micro-Mock

With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation

Other A2L Consulting articles and free resources about cognitive bias and persuasion:

how to persuade visually arguments persuasive graphics

Tags: Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Closing Argument, Persuasion, Cognitive Bias

Storytelling at Trial Works - But Whom Should the Story Be About?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Nov 21, 2016 @ 11:20 AM

storytelling-for-lawyers-trial-courtroom-a2l.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I go to a marketing conference in Boston every year, and every year I see a handful of outstanding presentations about storytelling. One stood out for me this year that will have immediate applicability for our field.

The presenter, Amina Moreau, is a filmmaker and co-founder of Stillmotion. Her session, Scientific Secrets of Superpowerful Storytellers: Techniques to Spur Action, covered some topics that are particularly useful for trial lawyers looking to persuade audiences.

We are constantly discussing storytelling among ourselves at A2L and with our litigation-focused client base. We've published books about storytelling, conducted webinars about storytelling (a new one is going to be announced soon), and routinely conduct storytelling CLEs at top law litigation departments. Our articles about storytelling at trial are read and shared regularly. See Dan Pink, Pixar, and Storytelling for the Courtroom5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion, and Storytelling at Trial Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive.

Using neuroscience as a foundation, Ms. Moreau raised a question that we frequently wrestle with: Whom should we tell stories about to generate the most powerful call for action and to be as persuasive as possible? Should the story be about a team, should it be about the CEO, should it be about the victim's wife, should it be about the inventor? How do we make the story most meaningful to our audience?

After all, if the story is not meaningful, we can't connect with the audience, and if we can't connect, we can't persuade using emotions and the framework that a well-told story provides.

To illustrate her point, Ms. Moreau used an interesting example. She compared “baby Jessica” -- the child who fell in the well in 1987 and was rescued -- with 60 million undernourished and undereducated girls in Africa. She pointed out how baby Jessica generated massive donations for her college fund in just hours and how organizations around the world struggle to raise fractions of the dollars raised for baby Jessica for needy girls in Africa. This is an illustration of the identifiable victim effect, in which it is far easier for people to sympathize and to act for a specific, identifiable person rather than for vague groups of individuals.

It makes sense of course. There's a compelling narrative around baby Jessica that fits all the classic storytelling elements, whereas making a rational argument about needy children in Africa is too often emotionless talk that does not impel action.

Ms. Moreau offered several useful tips for deciding about whom a story should be told. In general, a story about an individual will outperform a story about a group. So when trying to find the right individual to use to tell a story, she says there are three crucial criteria to use. The same criteria can and should be used in selecting a person to focus on in a trial.

  1. Desire. People identify with a character who reaches a goal or conquers an obstacle. Passion to achieve the goal is what they start with, but it’s not enough. 
  1. Complexity. Complexity is what makes us believe in the character. Complexity is what sustains the connection between the viewer and the main character of your story. It's what keeps the viewer rooting for them to reach their desire.

  2. Uniqueness. People are attracted to characters who have a novel approach to tackling the challenges that the world presents.

Keep these three criteria in mind, and you will understand how to choose the character who is at the heart of your story.

Other storytelling at trial free resources, articles, books, and downloads from A2L Consulting:

A2L Consulting's Storytelling for Litigators 3rd Ed E-book

Tags: Juries, Psychology, Storytelling, Judges, Persuasion

How to Be a Great Expert Witness (Part 1)

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Nov 15, 2016 @ 04:05 PM

iStock_92127667_SMALL.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

You are a specialist in your field of study. You are about to take the stand as an expert witness in court. You have read hundreds, if not thousands, of articles in your field. You likely have an advanced degree that touches on the area about which you have been asked to testify. You may have taught classes on the subject at a university. You may have presented your thoughts and research at conferences attended by your peers. You are smart. You are well-credentialed.

But are you prepared to testify in a court of law? Do you know what you have to do to be just as effective on the witness stand as you are at the podium?

To help you answer these questions, here is a series of articles that chronicle the unique challenges that a testifying expert faces and lays out a road map for overcoming those challenges and becoming a truly effective expert witness.

“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Too often, that is what jurors hear when experts speak to them in court. The nonsense word made popular by the Disney musical, Mary Poppins, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” certainly sounds impressive. But, like many arcane polysyllabic terms used by experts in various specialized fields, it serves only to obfuscate, not clarify, concepts for a jury—a jury composed of people who are likely far less educated than the expert witness herself.

The fact is, experts in a particular field are most comfortable speaking to those who have a similar base of knowledge. They speak at conferences to peers who share a common language and experience. They speak to students who attend multiple lectures, read the course book, and presumably have a particular interest in the material. And even when they discuss their work in more social settings, their milieu is typically more sophisticated and educated than the milieu of your typical juror. When an expert speaks about her field of expertise, it is typically the kind of thing that only those in the field will regularly understand.

That does not mean that the expert must dumb down her words in order to be effective. It means that for an expert to be effective, she must deconstruct her presentation so that every element and every term in her opinion testimony is explained and not assumed to be understood. And it also means that if the process of explaining every element and every term leads to an unwieldy, complex and dense presentation, maybe the presentation itself needs to be simplified.

Learning to speak to a different audience in a different way is not easy. It requires patience and practice, and it requires visuals, given that the majority of people are visual learners. But it also requires a keen awareness of whether you are losing your audience. The attorney who is asking you questions on direct examination should be asking you to speak to the jury, not to the lawyer. You are there as a teacher. If your students’ eyes are glazed over or completely shut, you will see it, you will know it, and you will want to do something about it. Explaining information simply and without the jargon of your profession will go a long way towards keeping the jury engaged and helping your client achieve its goals. If you are too readily dismissed as the ivory-tower, detached, and inscrutable presenter, the one or two key points that your testimony is intended to convey will be lost in a sea of big words.

Our next topic will be about how and why an expert should use graphics in his presentation.

expert witness trial testimony ebook a2l ims

Tags: Juries, Psychology, Expert Witness

5 Ways Change Can Be Good for Trial Lawyers

Posted by Tony Klapper on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 @ 12:31 PM

superlawyer-trial-lawyer-litigator-change-narrative-storytelling.jpg
by Tony Klapper

Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Everyone, regardless of political persuasion, can agree that a significant portion of the U.S. electorate voted for change in this week’s presidential election. And the way the whole 18-month campaign went certainly represented a change from the way most campaigns have gone in our history.

But while we as a country – at least every four or eight years – seem to like change, lawyers not so much. Maybe that reflects what we learned in law school. Law is governed by precedent, and if there are changes to precedent, they are incremental at best. Or, maybe it reflects the role we assume as advisers and the tendency for many in our profession to be cautious and risk-averse.

Regardless of your attitude toward changes in the law, in your political leaders, or in what your clients do, we believe that in the arena of trial advocacy change is very often a good thing. Here are five examples.

  1. Literally, change the font you are using for exhibits and displays. Mix it up occasionally. Pick a less common font, but not one that calls too much attention to itself. Jurors will notice the unusual font, although they may not know just what they’re noticing, and they will stay awake and attentive. See, Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? 
  1. Change your narrative. Don’t be wedded to telling your story a certain way, but be open to other people’s thoughts and perspectives. Aunt Sally’s apple pie wasn’t perfect the first time; it took years to fine tune that recipe. It could take many run-throughs to get an opening statement just right. See, 10 Types of Value Added by Litigation Graphics Consultants
  1. Change the perspective. Within a trial, tell the story from more than one viewpoint. If your opening statement is told from the perspective of your client, you might want to mix things up so that your closing argument features the thoughts of a particularly convincing witness. The opening and the closing don’t have to match. They can be different, based on a preconceived plan. This will also keep the jurors awake and interested, and it will provide depth to your narrative. See, Are You Smarter Than a Soap Opera Writer?
  1. Change your approach to working with your team. Ask yourself if there have been miscommunications or tensions. To get the most out of everyone on the team (lawyers, paralegals, vendors, and so on) think about the best way to motivate them. Be prepared to adjust. See, 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams
  1. Change yourself. Billy Joel said, “Don’t go changing to try and please me,” it’s true – but lawyers are in the business of trying to please jurors and others. Don’t resist the process of making yourself a more effective lawyer. Most lawyers who do trial advocacy think they are already at the top of their profession – and many are. But even the best can learn and grow. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators

litigation leadership 4th edition

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Litigation Management, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Leadership

[New and Free E-Book] Expert Witnesses - Direct and Cross Examination

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 @ 11:48 AM

A2L-IMS-EXPERT-WITNESS-TESTIMONY-TALL.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We at A2L are launching a new e-book this month. This time, we are publishing the book jointly with IMS ExpertServices, one of the nation’s premier providers of experts and consultants for top law firms and Fortune 500 corporations.

The title of the new book is Expert Trial Testimony: Direct and Cross-Examination. The book answers every question you might have thought of in connection with expert testimony at trial in U.S. courts, and it does so in a clear, conversational manner. Plus, it’s a free download.

As more and more money is at stake in civil trials, and as the subject matter grows more and more complex and difficult for many jurors to understand without assistance, the value and importance of expert witnesses has grown dramatically.

The difference between an effective, well-prepared, convincing expert witness and one who does not come across well to a jury can often be the difference between winning and losing a trial where hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars are at stake.

The book is directed at experts themselves and gives dozens of do’s and don’ts that will make any expert’s testimony effective and convincing at a trial. It’s not only experts who will benefit from reading this book but also trial attorneys, trial technicians, in-house counsel, and anyone who wants to understand the best ways to put on expert testimony.

The book addresses the typical expert witness as follows:

You have read hundreds, if not thousands, of articles in your field. You likely have an advanced degree that touches on the area about which you have been asked to testify. You may have taught classes on the relevant subject matter at a university. You may have presented your thoughts and research at conferences attended by your peers. You are smart. You are well-credentialed. But are you prepared to testify in a court of law? Do you know what you have to do to be just as effective on the witness stand as you are at the podium?

Among the key topics in the book are:

  • How an expert can explain complex scientific topics in language that a juror can understand without “dumbing down” her testimony
  • Why pictures, schematics and visuals of all sorts are as important to an expert witness’s testimony as the words he uses
  • How an expert should prepare for the toughest questions on cross-examination, including questions that the expert might view as unfair
  • How to deal with a “yes or no” question and avoid the pitfalls that such a question usually brings with it
  • How an expert should use body language to help, not detract from, the quality of her testimony

We think this book will be invaluable to expert witnesses, lawyers, trial techs, in-house counsel, and others. Please download it here.

 

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Jury Consultants, Expert Witness, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Judges, Cross Examination, Persuasion, ebook

The 10 Top Free Trial Lawyer Resources of 2016

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 @ 03:57 PM

best litigation ebooks webinars cle for trial lawyers of 2016by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

As we approach the end of 2016, I'm reviewing the many free resources that have been viewed and downloaded from A2L Consulting's extensive litigation-focused website this year. From podcasts to blog articles to free downloadable e-books to free webinars, we have given back this year to the trial community more than ever.

Our blog has been accessed 250,000 times, our 20+ free e-books have been downloaded tens of thousands of times and more than 1,000 new subscribers have signed up for a free litigation and persuasion-focused blog subscription in the past year.

To help sort through all that data and information and focus on just the best content and resources, here are the 10 items, all completely complimentary and without additional obligation, that saw the most intense attention this year from the litigation industry's top players.

  1. free litigation ebooks for trial lawyersVisits to A2L's free resources (podcasts, e-books, webinars etc.): This central set of resources allows visitors to our site to direct themselves to the information they most need.




 

  1. ryan-flax-a2l-litigation-consultants-webinar-recorded.jpgStorytelling for Litigators Webinar: The science of using storytelling for persuasion is in its nascent stages. This webinar explains what is now known and how to best use storytelling techniques to influence other people’s thoughts and conclusions.

 



  1. a2l-patent-litigation-consulting-4th-toolkit.jpgThe Patent Litigation Handbook 4th Edition: During A2L's more than 20 years in business, intellectual property cases have represented nearly half of our total work. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when we want to update one of our handbooks, we often turn to our patent litigation handbook. It’s a perennial winner.

 



  1. a2l-consulting-voir-dire-consultants-handbook-cover-drop.jpgThe Voir Dire Handbook: I'm surprised by how popular this book is, but voir dire continues to be one of the most searched for terms on our site. We routinely help support trial teams during jury selection and conduct mock exercises that have a voir dire component.

 




  1. complex-civil-litigation-ebook-free.jpgComplex Civil Litigation Handbook: This book is a necessity for anyone who enters civil courtrooms, develops theories for civil cases, or works on complex civil litigation.










 

  1. trial-timeline-ebook.jpgTrial Timelines E-Book: Used in almost every case, timelines are an essential communication tool. If you think that a timeline is simply a date bar with topic flags, this book has a great deal to teach you about this valuable concept.






 

  1. storytelling-and-persuasion-for-litigators.jpgStorytelling for Litigators E-Book: This book and its prior edition has been downloaded thousands of times.

 







  1. expert-witnesses-how-to-answer-questions-deposition-cross-1.jpgThe Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses: No matter how well prepared a witness is, he or she can face a tricky question or a trap planned by opposing counsel. This article identifies 14 of those common situations and the best strategies to foil these tactics.

 




  1. best-voir-dire-questions-to-ask-mock-trial-federal-court-1.jpgFive Questions to Ask in Voir Dire . . . Always: This blog article originally published in 2013, has been read nearly 20,000 times this year alone.




 

  1. litigation-consulting-report-blog.pngOur litigation blog, The Litigation Consulting Report. Now, every year, more than a quarter-million visits are paid to our blog. It's been named a top litigation blog by the American Bar Association, The Persuasive Litigator, Cogent Legal, Justia, LitigationWorld and many other organizations. Why not claim a free subscription here or share one with a friend?






Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, E-Book, Demonstrative Evidence, Webinar, Litigation Support, Patent Litigation, Voir Dire, Storytelling, Timelines, Podcasts, blog

Why Lawyers and Litigation Graphic Artists Need to Work Together

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

lawyers_artists_working_together.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

At A2L, we strongly believe that strong visual presentations are indispensable to courtroom success. But great visuals don’t just create themselves. Top-notch litigation graphic artists are the ones who make unforgettable visuals, and that means that graphic artists need to be a crucial part of any trial team.

And good graphic artists aren’t easy to find. As a graphic design website explains, a great graphic designer should “love art in all its forms” and “should live to create and to be inventive.” A graphic artist needs to understand color, composition, typefaces and dozens of other design elements and to use the best digital tools available.

All that means that trial lawyers need to learn how to work seamlessly with graphic artists. This isn’t necessarily so straightforward; after all, trial lawyers and artists are literally using different parts of their brain to approach a problem. Lawyers are classic left-brain people. The left hemisphere of the brain is dominant in language processing, logic, mathematical computations and memory. The right hemisphere, on the other hand, oversees spatial abilities, visual imagery, and the interpretation of context and tone. Those right-brain aspects reflect the skills and strengths of a graphic artist.

Together, the left-brain skills of the attorney and the right-brain skills of the graphic artist should produce great results – if they can work together. The trial consultant on the team ideally has a foot in both worlds, understanding the importance of precision and logic as well as the need for clarity and beauty. The trial consultant can “translate” between the lawyer’s language and the artist’s language and maximize the contributions of each one. It’s a role of the trial consultant that isn’t often noted but one that can be crucial in building the necessary collaborative spirit.

It would therefore be a shame if, as some trial teams do, the lawyers were to belittle the contributions of the graphic artist and just have him put into graphic form the lawyers’ idea of what the trial visuals should look like. Instead, an excellent graphic artist, such as those who work for A2L, should have the authority to suggest what the visual presentations should be like at trial. Empowering the graphic artist in this way not only adds a new “set of eyes” but also adds a whole new way of thinking.

As is almost always the case, the best results in litigation graphics aren’t just the work of one person. They grow out of collaboration, not dictation. One of the best things about working with a company like ours is that we know how to meld the disparate approaches of different human beings to create a great result.

Other A2L resources discussing how trial lawyers and litigation graphics professionals can work best together to win cases:

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Persuasive Graphics

One Possible Pitfall in Telling a Story at Trial

Posted by Tony Klapper on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 02:56 PM

bad storytelling jury pandering talking downby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We have always emphasized how important it is for a trial lawyer to organize his or her case so as to tell a consistent and convincing story to the jury or judge. In making that recommendation, we draw on experience and common sense, as well as on science that indicates that human beings are wired to follow intriguing stories and to look forward to their ultimate resolution.

“Storytelling is essential to winning trials – and that goes for mediations, arbitrations, and hearings, literally anywhere you must connect with an audience,” we have written. “Whether it’s your story or not, a story will inevitably emerge during a trial. Mock trials and focus groups have repeatedly shown that when a jury has two camps representing the two sides of the case, each camp will have a fairly consistent story that it endorses and clings to. Consistently, we find that those stories are short, that they fit with common sense, that they borrow some of the salient facts from the trial, and that they are complete tales, with a beginning, a middle and an end – including what happened and what should have happened.”

A story removes a case from the realm of the strictly legal and makes it personal. It humanizes one’s client and helps a jury identify with the client. But can storytelling go too far as a technique of persuasion?

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to meet with several lawyers at an outstanding law firm that is known for its trial expertise. One of the partners raised an interesting issue with me: Can the process of storytelling at trial cross the line into pandering, a contrived appeal to a jury’s emotions that ultimately causes the lawyer to lose credibility? In discussing ways that a story can be told effectively, I had given the example of a case on which we had worked with a client with a remarkable personal story; the client, who was Jewish, had barely escaped Nazi Germany and had built a successful business. This bit of history was not directly relevant to the claims in the case. Did we go too far in focusing on it?

That’s a very valuable question, and there’s no clear answer. It’s a matter of human emotion, so the answer is that it depends. I recommend that when there’s any question of perceived pandering or manipulation, you should “pressure test” the story in advance with some thoughtful people. They could be members of a mock jury, or simply one’s spouse, friend or co-worker. How does the story sound? Does it make the complex legal dispute come to life, or does it talk down to the jury in a way that will turn the jury off or even cause them to resent the client or even me the lawyer?

You as a trial lawyer may fall in love with a story, but that’s not the last word. A jury may see it as manipulative even if that’s the furthest thing from your mind. So test your stories in advance. Your credibility may depend on it.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to storytelling in the courtroom, what makes a great story, and persuading a judge or jury include:

A2L Consulting's Storytelling for Litigators 3rd Ed E-book

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

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Authors

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.


tony-klapper-headshot-500x500.jpg 

Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@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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