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The Litigation Consulting Report

Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 @ 09:53 AM

storytelling-trial-lawyers-interviewsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We recently had the opportunity to interview three top trial lawyers. We asked them for their views about the practice of law and about what really works at trial.

Collectively, more than 100 years of wisdom are speaking in these interviews. I couldn't agree more with these trial lawyers’ positions, and over the coming weeks, we will share some of these interviews, edited for clear and quick messages and understanding.

These three lawyers, Patrick Coyne, Rob Cary, and Bobby Burchfield, are at the top of their field. Let's hear what they have to say about storytelling at trial.

Finnegan partner Patrick Coyne, an intellectual property litigator, said: “I think a lot of lawyers approach IP cases with the idea that all I have to do is convince them that I’m right. Wrong. People make their decisions based on their values and beliefs. What the story does is give the jurors a narrative that you can tie in to their values and beliefs, and they can then fill in the gaps themselves. It makes sense to them based on their perspective.”

Rob Cary, a litigation partner at Williams & Connolly, said, “Being a litigator is about storytelling, making a narrative that makes sense and that is credible and reasonable. So much of what is taught in law school is so complicated and so nuanced that it inhibits good storytelling. So I think all lawyers when they get out there, and especially if they practice before jurors, need to be good storytellers. It is crucial to stick to the truth, and of course you need to be able to show as well as to tell.”

Said Bobby Burchfield, a litigation partner at King & Spalding, “I think of a trial in terms of putting together a comprehensible and comprehensive story in terms of what I can get people to remember and what I can get people to believe. That’s when you really mature as a lawyer, when you understand it really that is the narrative that decides the case and not whether you think you’re right.”

As is clear from the interviews with these top trial lawyers, building a narrative is essential to the consulting work that A2L does, because developing a persuasive narrative is essential in the modern trial. All too often it's overlooked or only considered at the eleventh hour.

We've written about storytelling extensively in articles like 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and PersuasionStorytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive, $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation, and Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 3 - Storytelling for Lawyers. And we've even created a compendium-style book of articles related to storytelling - it's a free download.

Finally, if you happen to miss last week’s A2L Consulting storytelling webinar delivered by A2L's Managing Director of Litigation Consulting, Tony Klapper, and attended by nearly 500 of your peers, you can now watch a recorded version here.

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Consulting, Juries, Psychology, Storytelling

How to Use Litigation Graphics in Antitrust Cases

Posted by Tony Klapper on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 @ 09:29 AM

antitrust-monopoly-power-litigation-graphics.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

At first glance, antitrust cases seem like unlikely venues for the successful use of litigation graphics. Antitrust law has the reputation for being arcane, abstract and statistical, and to some extent the reputation is justified. After all, this area of law deals with the workings of supply and demand and other economic questions, and the issue is often whether competition (or potential competition) in a market has been suppressed in some way. These matters aren’t remotely within the daily experience of jurors. How can a litigator use graphics in antitrust cases to make them make sense?

It can be done. Earlier this year, a well-written article in Law360 (paywall) noted that “explaining the details of an antitrust case to a jury can be a daunting task, but lawyers who build a compelling narrative and communicate with a straightforward style stand a good chance of bringing the jury around to their client’s point of view, experts say.” The article suggested that “many jurors are visual learners, so economic evidence is most likely to stick when the spoken testimony is supplemented with visual aids.” We agree.

Rather than defaulting to showing images of statistical models or regression analyses, antitrust litigators should consider presenting their case with visuals that we are used to seeing on a daily basis. For example, maps are an excellent way to help jurors visualize levels of competition. A state or county could be colored lighter or darker, depending on the number of competitors present in a given year. The names of the competitors can be symbolized by their logos. The entry by a company into a given geographic area is well represented by an arrow, of greater or lesser thickness. “Before and after” maps are also very effective: Here’s how dense the market was before the merger, and here’s what it looked like afterwards. And so on.

Relatively simple graphic techniques, such as bar charts, pie charts and thermometer slides, can also be very useful. A bar chart can be used to show that prices stay the same (are inelastic) regardless of the degree of competition in a relevant market (or conversely, if you are the Department of Justice, that they change fundamentally). An animated pie chart might show that in a five-year period the market share of the largest companies decreased rather than increased as new entrants appeared, indicating that concerns about market concentration are overblown. A thermometer slide (also known as a growing bar chart) might show, by category of savings, how much in the way of efficiencies was achieved.

Of course, there are many other demonstrative tools available to the prosecution or the defense in antitrust matters. Venn diagram-like slides can be used to show a lot of (or a small amount of) overlap in products or services provided by competing companies that intend to merge. For the defense, showing little overlap highlights differentiation; for the prosecution, the opposite is true. Timelines, a useful tool for most case narratives, are also effective tools for presenting evidence in antitrust cases. Timelines, for example, can depict the time and effort that went into the companies’ decision to merge and to determine if efficiencies could be achieved. Or, combined with trend lines, they can be used to explain the factors that, over time, drove the decision to merge.

With a bit of creativity, the facts in antitrust cases will be no more difficult to present successfully to jurors than the facts in any other type of case.

Other articles and A2L resources about antitrust litigation, litigation graphics and related topics:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Persuasive Graphics, Process Charts, Antitrust Litigation

7 Habits of Great Trial Teams

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 @ 02:17 PM

great-trial-teams-good-to-great-collins.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Ken Lopez, the CEO of A2L Consulting, and I were talking the other day about some good books to read for the holiday season.  I suggested a current best-seller, Thomas Friedman's Thank You for Being Late - strongly recommended to me by my dear friend and mentor, Jim Hostetler. But Ken guided me to another book, a best-seller written 15 years ago by Jim Collins, called Good to Great.  It was a great read.

Although the book is principally a heavily researched analysis on what differentiates a great company from just a good company, I believe that many of the same lessons that apply to the Fortune 500 apply with equal force to law firms, litigation consulting companies, and even trial teams.  Borrowing heavily from Collins' conclusions, I offer the following New Year’s thoughts on how good trial teams can be great trial teams:

  1. Great trial teams have leaders who have the confidence to make important decisions but also the humility to call attention to the team, not themselves.
  1. Great trial teams are composed of the best and the brightest who, like their leader, put the team first.  They are not necessarily subject matter experts (though subject matter expertise certainly doesn’t hurt), but they are innovative thinkers who roll up their sleeves and get to work.
  1. Great trial teams don’t simply follow the direction of their leader; instead, they participate in the development of the trial strategy from the beginning -- through open, sometimes animated, discussion and debate.  
  1. Great trial teams realize that presenting an effective narrative at trial is not something that happens overnight, but rather requires repeated reassessment and development.  The process is iterative and not necessarily linear.
  1. Great trial teams aren’t afraid of technology and think carefully about how they can use it in the courtroom.
  1. Great trial teams understand what makes them great as a team and as individuals.  They don’t try to become something they are not.  
  1. Great trial teams think hard about the core of their case and develop themes, theories and narratives that make the most sense of the law and the facts, fitting round pegs only into round holes.

Are these statements true of your trial team?

Other tools and resources for A2L to help your trial team improve and benchmark your trial team against other teams:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Litigation Technology, Trial Technology, Litigation Management, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Management, Leadership

The Importance of Litigation Graphics in Toxic Tort Litigation

Posted by Tony Klapper on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 01:23 PM

iStock-456090227.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

If anyone thought the era of toxic tort litigation was coming to an end, they were wrong. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its priority list of 10 chemicals, including asbestos, that it is considering banning under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Although it remains an open question how aggressive the Trump administration will be with safety regulations, the reality is that regulatory lists like this, and the inevitable studies that follow, often become a treasure trove of “support” for a plaintiffs’ bar eager to add scientific credibility to their legal claims.

This presents challenges for defense lawyers – especially given the continued currency of quasi-scientific principles or principles that are fine for regulators to rely on, but have no place in today’s courtroom, such as the “precautionary principle.” This is most evident with the mantra of “no safe dose” that asbestos lawyers and some environmental groups trumpet as justifying liability for even the most meager and infrequent of chemical exposures. Of course, toxicology, epidemiology and other scientific disciplines have exposed the fallacy of principles like “no safe dose” (after all, Paracelsus teaches us that “dose makes the poison – more about this later). But the appeal of the seemingly aphoristic “no safe dose” is tough to counter in court when an effective advocate plays to a jury’s fears and is buttressed by governmental pronouncements that, albeit for different reasons, embrace the notion that there is some theoretical, modeled risk from exposure to virtually any chemical.

So the task for the defense bar is how to convince juries to reject these and other fallacious concepts that serve as easy, digestible substitutes for the more complex elements of true causation.

This task requires more than just the hiring of well-credentialed risk assessors, toxicologists, epidemiologists and pathologists, and the deployment of powerful rhetoric. It also requires careful thought on the best way to persuade jurors visually that many of the concepts proposed by plaintiffs in toxic tort cases are indeed spurious. With some creativity, defense lawyers and graphic artists working with them can come up with ways to explain complex scientific concepts, such as exposure pathways and epidemiology, so that jurors can understand them.

A good example is the basic principle of toxicology that “the dose makes the poison.” This doctrine states that the amount of exposure to a substance is what defines the impact that that substance has on the human body. A moderate amount of water is a good thing. Actually consuming too much can kill you (hyperhydration). This concept should be relatively easy for lawyers and graphic artists to explain to juries without becoming overly technical and resorting to scientific mumbo-jumbo that will only confuse. 3-D and 2-D animations can be useful in this type of case, as can the simple bar chart or creative illustrations that analogize concepts like thresholds and total dose. Sometimes the simplest approach is the best.

Too often, when lawyers think about litigation graphics in toxic tort cases, they rely excessively on callouts of phrases in long-forgotten documents or hopelessly complicated charts presenting arcane data. If the message from the plaintiff’s lawyer is very simple – as in “this case is as easy as A, B, and C—Asbestos in Brakes cause Cancer” – the defense needs to respond with a similarly basic approach that will remain in jurors’ minds.

Other articles and free resources related to toxic torts, litigation graphics, teaching science, and environmental litigation from A2L Consulting include:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Science, Environmental Litigation, Toxic Tort, Persuasion

Announcing A2L’s New Storytelling Webinar

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 @ 01:08 PM

persuasive-storytelling-for-litigators-cta-time.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Tony Klapper joined the A2L team after a vibrant and successful career as a litigator at law firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Reed Smith. One of the reasons that he has meshed so well with the culture here at A2L is his penchant for storytelling, particularly as it applies to persuading in the courtroom.

In the past year, I've had the pleasure of watching Tony deliver private storytelling training sessions to litigators at many of the very top litigation law firms. And I have also had the distinct pleasure of watching him work with our customers, who are primarily large law firms engaged in litigation with hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars at stake.

Having been in this business and having seen a lot of people do this kind of work for three decades, I can say with confidence that Tony is absolutely superb at combining the development of a high-quality narrative with high-quality persuasive visuals.

So it's with great pleasure that I announce an upcoming free public webinar on storytelling for litigators on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm (EST) - NOTE: Recorded version will be available after the event if you register. Everyone is invited to attend. All you have to do is sign up, and that takes about 30 seconds. Here's the link to register.So whether you're considering how best to tell a story in the courtroom for an upcoming case or just want to hear the latest techniques and science that relate to persuasive storytelling, you will want to attend this free one-hour session.

In this session Tony will be sharing techniques that he has learned in his more than 20 years of litigation – and techniques that we use at A2L to help trial teams and their experts maximize their persuasive ability in the courtroom.

click here to Claim Free Webinar Seat Now

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Webinar, Litigation Support, Storytelling, Persuasion

Why You Should Pressure-Test Your Trial Graphics Well Before Trial

Posted by Tony Klapper on Fri, Dec 16, 2016 @ 02:55 PM

trial-graphics-mock-trial-pressure-test-focus-group.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Quite often, law firms hire companies like A2L before trial to do jury research. That research usually takes the form of bringing in a mock jury, exposing the mock jury to the story that will be presented by both sides, and then engaging the mock jury in a single-day (and sometimes multi-day) focus group exercise to find out what aspects of the two sides’ presentations worked and what didn’t.

The central part of these mock jury events is the dueling “clopenings” that are put on by different attorneys from the trial firm – one embodying the narrative that the firm is planning on behalf of its client and the other representing the firm’s best estimate of what its courtroom opponents are planning to do and say at trial. A “clopening,” as the term suggests, is a combination of opening statement, evidence and closing argument that is typically used in a mock trial.

What many people don’t realize is that in addition to testing the plausibility and effectiveness of the narratives for each side, mock trials are a crucial way, indeed the best way, to test the demonstrative evidence that one intends to use at trial.

Testing the visual persuasiveness of the exhibits is very important. For one thing, it is a key step in the iterative process that creates better and more helpful trial graphics. Fine-tuning the demonstrative evidence before trial through a carefully planned series of assessments can only make the graphics more convincing. Subjecting the graphics to the thoughts of people who may be similar to the jurors in the jury pool is invaluable. For another, this procedure gives the mock jurors the opportunity not only to tell the lawyers which graphics worked for them, but also to suggest ideas for new trial graphics that can help illuminate the case. Mock jurors are likely to help identify “holes” in the set of demonstratives that can be filled in. They can do that because mock jurors are ideally situated to identify areas of confusion or gaps of knowledge that that graphics are well-suited to clarify or close.

Trial lawyers should always think of testing the arguments in the “clopenings” and testing the graphics as a single, seamless process. You simply can’t separate the evaluation of the narrative from the evaluation of the demonstrative evidence that is designed to support it.

Other A2L resources discussing trial graphics, litigation graphics, and using demonstrative evidence to win at trial:

pretrial trial graphics motions briefs hearings

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Jury Consultants, Persuasive Graphics

How to Be a Great Expert Witness (Part 3)

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Dec 13, 2016 @ 01:07 PM

expert-witness-testimony-guide-tips-free.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

In our last post, we discussed why expert witnesses should rely on visual aids and litigation graphics in preparing their testimony.

Another key point for expert witnesses is that no matter how well credentialed a witness is, if the jury thinks he is a jackass or if he acts in a way that is inc
onsistent with jurors’ perception of how an expert should act, his testimony will be useless.

In every trial, the jury and the judge evaluate the credibility of every witness who testifies. If you have done something as a witness to lessen your credibility quotient, what you say will either be filtered through that lens or not even considered.

For example, some experts make the mistake of engaging opposing counsel in a pitched battle during cross-examination. While a feisty expert who resists answering “yes” or “no” questions might be seen by her attorney as a hero, the jury more likely sees an expert who is being difficult -- particularly when the “yes” and “no” questions are intuitively answerable. Similarly, an expert who regularly resorts to “I don’t recall” and “I don’t know” responses to questions that objectively seem knowable and recallable also undercuts her credibility. The same is true of an expert who fights over the meaning of words that have common meanings, or starts asking questions of the questioner.

When these things happen, the expert no longer is perceived as an expert; she is perceived as an advocate who is hiding some element of the truth. Even when the expert is not on the witness stand, how the expert interacts with court staff, opposing counsel, and even her own team can affect the expert’s perceived credibility. Being gracious and dignified can help; being cocky or surly can hurt.

For better or worse, jury trials can be show trials. While they certainly involve the search for truth, the way that truth is arrived at is often foreign and unnatural to the novice testifier. For example, unlike the laboratory or classroom, your evaluators at a jury trial are often less educated and less patient.

Additionally, unlike normal conversations, the questions asked and answered at a jury trial are orchestrated and controlled by arcane evidentiary and procedural rules. While being liked and respected is important in the “real world,” its impact is magnified dramatically in the courtroom, where snap decisions and judgments are made by people you have never met before and will likely never meet again. Not recognizing these facts can spell disaster.

Another key issue for the expert witness is to realize that she is going to be in very good company, intellectually, during the trial. She may see herself as the smartest person in the room on her subject matter. Is she? Perhaps. She needs to recognize that some of the best trial lawyers pride themselves in playing the game of one-upmanship and outmaneuvering and outworking the expert.

Those lawyers have some very real advantages. First, they are smart. They may not be as educated as you in the field of your expertise, but they are quick studies and careful readers. The best lawyers take great pride in securing the winning admission from the other side’s experts -- albeit with a smile on their face. Many a war story has been told of a cross-examination that brought a testifying expert to tears or so frazzled the expert that he caved on points that he did not need to cave on. Sometimes aggressive lawyering on cross-examination can backfire, and the expert is perceived as a victim and the lawyer as a bully. But sometimes the jury (like the throngs at a gladiator fight in ancient Rome) waits with anticipation for at least some blood to be drawn.

Second, in cases with significant economic exposure or opportunity, opposing counsel will likely be well-financed. They will have a team of associates, and possibly even science consultants, available to look for ways to outsmart you. They will have scoured all of your writings and the scientific literature you have relied upon. They might have better recall about footnote 29 or the limitations expressed by another author about the regression analysis in one of the studies upon which you rely. And they will be looking for statements and opinions that are flat-out inconsistent (or appear inconsistent) with the statements and positions you presented in your expert report and direct examination

Third, opposing counsel will know the case backwards and forwards. As an expert, you invariably must rely on your understanding of at least some of the facts in order to apply those facts to whatever scientific methodology you employ -- though sometimes you are simply asked to assume certain facts as true. Either way, opposing counsel will work hard to exploit any of your knowledge gaps with what they perceive to be the “real facts.”

The simple solution is to remember that you really are THE expert. If you believe in your opinions and have prepared properly for your testimony, you will do just fine.

expert witness trial testimony ebook a2l ims

Tags: Trial Consulting, Juries, Expert Witness, Witness Preparation, Cross Examination

The Results Are In for Best Trial Consultants

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 @ 01:17 PM

best-trial-consultants-best-of-the-legal-times-2016.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I don't want this post to be purely self-congratulatory, but I do have some good news to share. I think it's relevant and useful news for litigators and litigation professionals.

A2L was just voted number one in the legal industry again. This time, it's in the category of trial consultants, in a poll conducted by the prestigious Legal Times newspaper. This accolade comes on the heels of being voted the number one jury consultant and number one litigation graphics provider in a variety of other national polls.

Here's why I think this information is helpful for our readers. Twenty years after founding A2L, when I look at our industry I see three or four firms capable of delivering truly top-class results in high-profile litigation. However, the view from the law firms seems entirely different.

If you Google any of our services like jury consulting, litigation graphics, or trial technician providers, we may very well come up first in many of these searches (for good reason), but there will be dozens if not hundreds of other providers listed for these services.

How is one expected to sort the wheat from the chaff? You can't tell from a Google search because it's obviously not a reliable indicator of who is a top services provider. You can't always tell from your colleagues either. Have they had have many excellent experiences with a provider, or just a one off -- or do they have a longstanding relationship with a provider without a reliable track record?

Well, it's exactly surveys like this one in Legal Times that provide an objective source from thousands of lawyers surveyed. And I'm proud to say that over the last five years, A2L has been consistently highly ranked in just about everywhere we've been nominated.

So if you're in the market for a litigation consulting firm like ours or if you're in the market for another service like discovery, court reporting, or even law firm and litigation financing, a guide like this one is a good source of information. These guides prepared by objective organizations like Legal Times provide a directory of high-quality providers and can save a stressed litigator or litigation paralegal considerable time identifying the very best jury consultants, the very best litigation graphics providers, the very best trial technicians, the very best trial consultants or any one of dozens of categories relevant to litigation.

Click here to download your copy of this 2016 guidebook. I hope it's helpful to you.

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Awards

Is the Witness a Big Fat Liar, and Can the Jury Tell?

Posted by Katie Bagwill on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 @ 03:40 PM

witness-how-to-tell-if-lying-liar-deposition-trial.jpgby Katie Bagwill
A2L Consulting

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to learn, just from hearing a witness utter a few phrases, that the witness is lying? Unfortunately, we can’t read minds, so we need to make do with second best: reading the tone of the witness’s voice and eye movements.

The scientific community has been working hard to develop a way to gauge an individual’s truth telling based on the person’s behavioral, verbal, and physiological responses. In the meantime, you can use these ideas when questioning a witness, preparing your own witness to give testimony, and selecting potential jurors.

Vocal Cues. Using questioning methods similar to that of a polygraph, voice stress analysis is used to pick up on changes in the frequency in a person’s tone of voice when speaking. The basic idea is that when you are lying, the muscles that contract when you are speaking will produce a slightly higher or lower frequency. By having someone speak into a microphone, you can use a vocal stress analyzer on your computer or, thanks to technology, on your phone.

Why it should matter to you: Even if those tools aren’t available to you or would be too time-consuming to use, the basic principle is something you should keep in mind: lying causes physiological stress and stress causes a person’s vocal pitch to change. While a seasoned liar may be good at keeping his or her voice steady when lying, the average person (i.e. someone called for jury duty) could let it waver.

Eyeball Movements. There’s this idea floating around that if someone is looking to the right they are lying and if they look to the left they are telling the truth. While this isn’t necessarily always true, there is a science behind it. Research has been done that links patterns of eye movements to different forms of cognitive processing. Each direction notes the characteristics of the thought process in question (visual, auditory, emotional). The difference in sides refers not to just “lying” but to the cognitive processes used in creating a realistic story, which requires a higher level of thinking than recalling. (see also http://www.a2lc.com/eyechart)

Why it should matter to you: Take note of the witness’s or potential juror’s normal eye movements while speaking. Deviance from their “normal” is a stronger indicator of “creative” thinking than utilizing the eye movement chart alone. In combination with other methods of detecting deception, it is a useful tool.

Other articles about psychology, cogitive bias, persuasion, and influencing juries from A2L Consulting include:

A2L Consulting Voir Dire Consultants Handbook

Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Trial Consulting, Juries, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Psychology, Expert Witness, Witness Preparation

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

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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.


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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.


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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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