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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.


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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The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation

 

 

trial preparation litigation consultantsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

When someone first works in the litigation consulting industry, the last-minute nature of trial preparation very often shocks them. In my experience, about half of all trial teams spend months or years preparing and testing themes, rhetorical strategies, and different approaches to their visual trial presentation. The other half of trial teams jam all trial preparation into the last month or two before trial.

No one approach is right for everyone, and I have certainly seen both approaches work well. After all if you are forced to prepare at the last minute, you're forced to simplify a case, and that's a good strategy for bench and jury trials. On the other hand, the ability to test and refine elements of the case is now a real science, and any case can benefit from a mock trial, the recommendations of litigation experts and other sophisticated testing.

While both strategies can work, when possible, I think slow and steady trial preparation wins the race more often. Still, we do great work in the last month before trial all the time, and sometimes there is just no other option. For those times when you have a choice, below are 12 reasons why last minute trial preparation might just set you back far enough to warrant starting now.

1. Last-minute costs more. I fear that some litigators believe that fewer hours available means lower cost for trial preparation. The opposite is usually true. Last-minute means your litigation consulting consultants have to use available staff rather than the ideal staff for a project. Often this leads to the use of more expensive staff and higher costs. Further, last minute trial preparation normally means using many more people to achieve the same result within a safe margin of error.

2. Building a good story takes time. We've written quite a bit about storytelling in the courtroom, we've published a book about storytelling in litigation, and we even have a webinar you can watch any time devoted to courtroom storytelling. The connection between storytelling and persuasion is a close one as scientific studies are increasingly proving. Unfortunately, like a fine wine, crafting a persuasive story is not something that should be rushed.

3. Maximizing persuasion in your litigation graphics takes time. Anyone can make a PowerPoint presentation quickly using a template and a few bullet points. However, as I wrote recently, Good-Looking Graphic Design ≠ Good-Working Visual Persuasion. If it's done well, it will be hard to do, require expertise and it will take time. I've written before about how the litigation graphics you don't use contribute enormously to your presentation, and an indicator of a good presentation is how full your trash can of unused litigation graphics is. To get to the point where you can reject some and keep others requires time for the creative process. See also, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

4. Getting your trial technology configured takes time. Rush or ignore your technology set up and months of preparation can be for naught. There's no winning back your credibility after a technology flub, a courtroom delay or an outright technological failure.

5. Mock trials really work. Mock trials are not about predicting precisely what will happen at trial as many lesser jury consultants might suggest. Rather, mock trials are useful for understanding how a judge or jury will react to the case, learning how an expert will perform, learning from practice what really works in your approach, learning your ideal juror profile, understanding your opposition's case and for helping to find those levers that will give you an edge at trial. See 7 Reasons In-House Counsel Should Want a Mock TrialWhy Do I Need A Mock Trial If There Is No Real Voir Dire?, 6 Good Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial and 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them. We have done a mock trial two-weeks before trial, but it is not an ideal approach. It is normally best to complete your final mock months before trial to give time for analysis and adjustment.

6. You wouldn't play a World Cup game without practicing (Congratulations to the U.S. team for advancing to the final 16 today!), why would you go to trial without some serious practice? See The Magic of a 30:1 Presentation Preparation RatioThe Very Best Use of Coaches in Trial Preparation3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation, and Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well.

7. Failing to understand the courtroom layout is a problem. Every court is different. Some will not accommodate an electronic presentation. Some do not easily accommodate a printed trial board. Some judges won't allow either. If you don't know these things in advance, you're setting yourself up for trouble and this all takes time to sort out.

8. There's every chance you'll win or lose in opening, so it's critical to get it right. See 6 Reasons The Opening Statement is The Most Important Part of a Case. Taking time to prepare your opening using modern approaches for drafting an opening statement requires ample lead time. See 7 Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement and How to Structure Your Next Speech, Opening Statement or Presentation.

9. Too much gut. When trial preparation time is limited, a litigation team has to rely too heavily on its gut instincts and not enough on a scientific analysis of what will work. The good news is that successful litigators have the best people-focused gut instincts I've ever seen. However, great instincts coupled with great analysis, science, an outside perspective and modern trial expertise are always better.

10. You'll never be as confident as when you're well-prepared. Many in the litigation industry are great actors when it comes to feigning belief, indignation, and passion. It's part of the job. However, people can read subtle clues. If you're truly prepared and you know you are, confidence will come through. There's just no substitute for it, and it's not something that can be downloaded Matrix-style.

12. Settlement is less likely. As my colleague Dr. Laurie Kuslansky wrote in Don't Be the 2% - 6 Ways to Encourage Settlement with Trial Prep, there are so many ways to prepare for a case that simultaneously encourage settlement. When you prep a witness and test them and when you run a mock trial and understand strengths and weaknesses of a case, you are necessarily in a strong position to consider settlement. These steps take time.

13. Fewer Choices: When a student skips college, there's no reason they can't be as or more successful than a college graduate, but their options for success are more limited. The same is true with trial preparation. A trial team who waits until the last minute to prepare has fewer choices for how to prepare. I always prefer more choices, and I think most litigators and clients feel similarly.
 

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Other A2L Consulting articles relating to trial preparation, litigation graphics and mock trial work:

 

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Mid-2014 Economic Outlook for the Litigation Industry

 

 

legal industry economics litigation consultingby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Over the past couple of Decembers I've written articles offering an economic forecast for the coming year with a focus on litigation. These writings serve both to spread useful information to the legal industry and to help me to plan A2L's budget for the coming year. I thought a mid-year update might be valuable in these challenging economic times.

One might reasonably ask, if the focus is litigation, why would one look at the economy as a whole? First, there is no reliable litigation spending index that I am aware of, and second, my observation is that big-ticket civil litigation largely tracks the economy. When the economy is growing, litigation spending goes up. When the economy is shrinking or there is economic uncertainty (e.g. terrorist threats, massive changes to entitlement programs, election years etc.), cases settle and litigation spending shrinks.

While there are plenty of exceptions, many of A2L clients are large law firms with large corporations as customers. Large corporations are especially reactive to economic shifts. Indeed, for the most part, they are the economy, with Fortune 500 revenues now roughly equal to 78% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (important note: not all of these revenues count toward U.S. GDP, such as overseas sales, so the actual percentage of GDP is much lower).

For the past 10 years, I've been watching one composite leading indicator from ECRI that does an excellent job of predicting the economy 6-9 months in the future. Last December, I observed that the U.S. economy was generally in a downtrend and that 2014 would look a lot like 2013 for litigation. That's largely held true unfortunately, and the economic news out today showing a massive Q1 contraction (revised way downward) is simply shocking. Perhaps though, there is a bit to be optimistic about.

Looking first at the bad news, in the first quarter (last quarter), we all saw the economy shrink by a historic 2.9%. To put that into perspective, look at the chart below to see the last few points in time we saw a contraction at or worse than today's level.

gdp contraction chart q1

That's right. The first quarter of 2014 is similar to points in 2009, 1991, 1983 and 1981. Yikes. That's pretty bad. To make matters worse, both the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office are forecasting painfully lackluster growth in the 2% range for the foreseeable future.

The only bright spots I am seeing are a meaningful uptick in the leading indicators and anecdotal evidence that our litigation practice is busy and looks to be setting up for an even busier 2015. We already have quite a number of mock trials being scheduled in 2014 for 2015 trials. Looking at the charts below, you can begin to see the difference between December's outlook and today's outlook. To quickly understand the charts, know that the green line represents a forecast about 8 months in the future from the date below any point. The blue line represents what actually happened at a given point in time in the economy. Even more simply, up is good, down is bad.

Last December 2013:

litigation market forecast 2014 ecri

Now (June 2014)

June 2014 economic outlook

The takeaway from the leading indicators here is this: In December of 2013, a downturn was forecast to continue (green line, upper chart). That downturn is reflected in the blue line in the lower chart stretching from October 2013 to March 2014. A modest uptick is forecast (green line, lower chart) that appears to run from roughly May 2014 through at least the end of the year. Let's hope that picks up steam.

For litigation, I would say things look slightly better than a year ago and much better than they did six months ago. The Q2 GDP number will be one to watch after it is revised a couple of times. I'm sure it will come out positive initially (they always seem to lately). The question will be whether it is revised to be negative later this year. If so, we would have two consecutive quarters of negative growth - an official recession. If that happens, you can bet Fortune 500s will cut back. They'll likely cut back on litigation modestly based on the Q1 number and wait for good news. If Q2 comes in negative, litigation spending cuts will likely get even deeper.

Articles related to the economics of the litigation market, law firm sales, pricing and more on A2L Consulting's site:

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About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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9 Ways Prepping for Trial is Like Being a Dad of Triplets

 

 

triplet dad trial prepby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

As a dad of triplets, I have a unique perspective on fatherhood.

Sure, there are many dads with many more kids, but until you've had to learn how to feed three infants simultaneously, how to keep track of three similar-looking people in a crowd, or how to negotiate a quick settlement in a heated dispute over who will wear that special dress over the coming week, you just have not lived the life of a triplet dad.

As I head into Father's Day weekend, I'm thinking about all of the questions I regularly get asked by friends and strangers alike. Are they triplets? Are they all yours? How do you do it?

The 'how do you do it' question in particular reminds me of the work we do as lawyers or as litigation consultants engaging in trial preparation. So, it is with a blend of tongue firmly planted in cheek and with some real-life lessons that I share the 9 ways that trial preparation and trial itself are similar to being a triplet dad.

  1. Storytelling is essential: Just as my six-year-old girls are mesmerized by my nightly reading of Harry Potter, your jury will best be persuaded if you incorporate storytelling into your trial presentation. Here's a free book we've written about storytelling and here is a free webinar on litigation storytelling you can watch anytime.
     
  2. Outsource to experts: Similar to the way my wife and I relied on a triplet baby nurse to help our premature infants get a healthy start in life and to learn to sleep through the night, it is best to rely on outside trial experts who go to trial dozens or even hundreds of times per year for jury consulting, litigation graphics, persuasion consulting and trial technology consulting.

  3. If it's working, don't change it: One thing I learned early on in fatherhood was that if three kids are happy, don't change anything. I often see many parents interrupt a perfectly content child to get them to do something else, and I don't get that unless you disapprove of what they are doing. The same is true for trial preparation. If you are consistently successful using a particular approach, why change it? If you think times are changing and you need to adapt, then do so before you get a bad result. Claiming a free subscription to this litigation blog is a good way to stay one step ahead.

  4. Don't lose your cool: Whether you are parenting or whether you are working with your trial team on the eve of trial, you just can't lose your cool with so much at stake. Here are some good resources that can help: 10 Signs the Pressure is Getting to You and What to Do About It and When a Good Trial Team Goes Bad: The Psychology of Team Anxiety.

  5. Prepare for the unexpected: Just as one must prepare for the unexpected on a family outing, your trial preparation is only good to the degree that you've tested it's weak points. This is why we advocate for highly-structured mock trials. There is no better preparation tool available for a serious litigator. Here are five great resources related to mock trials:
     
    1. 6 Good Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial
    2. 7 Reasons In-House Counsel Should Want a Mock Trial
    3. 12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials
    4. 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them
    5. 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said
       
  6. Scheduled events make for smooth sailing: Sometimes I think both trial preparation and parenting are conducted on too much of an ad hoc basis. My wife works in real estate which can take up large chunks of some weekends. As she does when I am working, I plan activities in the outdoors or at any one of thousands of interesting places to go in the DC-area. The kids have fun, they usually learn something, and I have fun. Contrast this with an ad hoc approach of waking up and waiting until the last minute to decide what to do. It rarely generates good results. The same is true for trial. Perfect planning prevents poor performance. Use our one-year from trial calendar to plan your mock trial schedule and other trial preparation to take an organized approach to trial prep.
     
  7. Use compelling and persuasive visuals: Whether kids, a jury, your colleagues or the general public, learning how to teach and persuade with visuals is critical since more than two-thirds of the people prefer to learn this way. Here are five great resources related to litigation graphics:
     
    1. 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
    2. [Download New E-Book] Using Litigation Graphics to Persuade
    3. Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You
    4. Good-Looking Graphic Design ≠ Good-Working Visual Persuasion
    5. 16 Litigation Graphics Lessons for Mid-Sized Law Firms
       
  8. Don't be afraid to go outside: The picture above is of my kids when my wife and I were headed out for date night recently. The kids are sad to see us go, but as any parent knows, spending time as a couple is critical for parental happiness. For those preparing for trial, the lesson here is to remember to get outside of your daily routine and daily circles when preparing for trial. Talk to litigation consultants, talk to your colleagues and talk to your family about the case. It's amazing how commonsense insights can go overlooked when one is too in their own head.
     
  9. Celebrate success and remember time flies: In the context of trial, my favorite trial teams are those that schedule a thank you lunch, take our people out for drinks or even give us post-trial mementos to remember the great work we did together. The litigators who lead these teams are the best in the business. They know that recognition and a kind gesture creates loyalty for life. In the parenting context, I'll highlight something one of my friends did recently. Seeing his daughter growing up fast, he wrote her a song. Then, in an effort to connect more deeply with her, they flew to Nashville, they rented a studio, they hired a band and they recorded the song. They did something similar for a video. For all the dads out there, but especially those with daughters, the video below is heartwarming and a good reminder to cherish the time you have, celebrate the people around you and make the everyday moments count.

I hope this article provided some useful reminders. Happy Father's Day.

 

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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The Top 14 Litigation Consulting Articles You Loved from Q1-2014

 

 

top 14 litigation consulting report articlesby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Since we publish articles a few times per week, it's easy to miss some of the great content posted at A2L's Litigation Consulting Report blog. Also, with so much valuable content, we know it's hard to read it all. That's why we publish four quarterly best-of articles, an annual best-of article and a best-of article every time we publish an additional 100 articles. The list included here covers our very top articles of the first quarter of 2014, as measured by the number of times these articles were read.

The first quarter saw our highest readership ever with tens of thousands of visits to our litigation-focused blog. All told, 61% more people visited in the first quarter of 2014 than visited in 2013. That's quite an increase!

We have definitely noticed an increase in readership since being named one of the top 100 legal industry blogs and one of the top 10 litigation blogs by the American Bar Association at the end of 2013. We are approaching 4,300 subscribers who get notified of new articles as they are published, and invite you to subscribe to the Litigation Consulting Report for free here.

Enjoy these articles from the Litigation Consulting Report, and share them using the LinkedIn and Twitter buttons below.

14. 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them

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13. How To Emotionally Move Your Audience

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12. Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors

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11. 10 Things Litigators Can Learn From Newscasters

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10. 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations

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9. FREE 250-Page Complex Civil Litigation E-Book

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8. 16 Litigation Graphics Lessons for Mid-Sized Law Firms

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7. 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians

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6. The Top 30 Litigation Articles Out of Our First 300 Articles

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5. Like It or Not: Likeability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom

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4. 2 Metrics Showing Litigation Shifting to Midsize Law Firms

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3. Witness Preparation: The Most Important Part

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2. 7 Things Expert Witnesses Should Never Say

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1. 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

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About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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Why Do I Need A Mock Trial If There Is No Real Voir Dire?

 

 

mock trial provides vision jurors no voir direby Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting
A2L Consulting

Answer: So you can learn the best story for the worst jury.

Have you ever gotten to your seat on an airplane and, without speaking to anyone, seen who was next to you and thought, “This is gonna be trouble!”? Or boarded a train and decided to keep walking before choosing your seat? Of course you have. And that’s because there is a wealth of information that we, as humans, gather instinctively and automatically all the time. 

We observe a myriad of valuable information before any questions are asked out loud, such as:

  • How does someone look?
  • Are they attractive?
  • Are they neat or sloppy?
  • Do they appear dressed appropriately for court?
  • Are they flamboyant or conservative?
  • Did they show up on time?
  • Are they chatting with neighbors or reading a book?
  • Are they using Kindle or reading People magazine?
  • Are they fidgeting?
  • Are they asking someone questions?
  • Did they drop everything on the floor?
  • Are they limping on the way to their seat?
  • Are they having problems seeing or hearing?
  • Did they complete the jury summons form correctly?
  • According to the form, where do they live and work? Do they have children and where do they work? How’s their spelling and punctuation on the form?
  • Are they speaking too loudly?
  • Are they laughing and acting like they’re on stage?
  • Do they have photos on their Facebook profile for the entire world to see?
  • Are they on LinkedIn or on Plenty of Fish?
storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar

If you can answer these questions, you know most of what you need to know to make important jury-selection choices – but only if you know how best to use this information, i.e., what are the personality traits that may indicate adverse jurors, who are unlikely to favor your client and your view of damages. So, the real issue isn’t whether you can control voir dire, but what to do with the information that you can glean with your ears and eyes (and maybe a few keystrokes on a laptop).

For an amusing read on what merely seeing how someone dresses can tell you, for example, see http://lamasatonline.net/en/psychology-of-clothing

What does “no real voir dire” mean?

There are several typical scenarios for voir dire:

1)    Counsel has almost unlimited ability to directly ask prospective jurors questions

2)    Counsel can use an extensive written jury questionnaire

3)    Counsel can ask a few questions directly

4)    Counsel can only ask a few follow-up questions

5)    The judge or clerk conducts an extensive or abbreviated voir dire and accept a few proposed questions from counsel or not

6)    There is a liberal or draconian policy about letting people off for claimed hardships.

7)    Cause is construed very narrowly or broadly by the Court.

8)    The judge or clerk conducts voir dire just looking for a pulse and accept everyone who does.

In each of these scenarios, you will be permitted unlimited strikes for cause that the judge accepts and limited (usually 3 per side) peremptory strikes. The key is to fight to use cause strikes against harmful biases and exercise your peremptory strikes against true enemies and not inadvertently strike potentially good jurors or mildly bad ones in favor of worse ones. The question is: how do you know which ones they are?  It isn’t because you can’t get relevant information about them because you didn’t get to ask, but because you need a reliable blueprint for what makes a potentially bad juror for your case, or you risk striking blindly.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision." (Helen Keller)

Jury research is one of the only ways to avoid that by informing your vision. In particular, several critical outcomes emerge from properly conducted jury research which can provide counsel with night vision goggles, so that even if you operate largely in the dark at voir dire, you are armed with:

1)    A thematic story of your case that works best for most jurors – good and bad alike;

2)    A list of statistically significant traits, attitudes and experiences that jurors most adverse to your case seem to share.

3)    A clear sense of the issues, facts, evidence and arguments that detractors reject in your case and why, as well as how to overcome them (e.g., What they’d need to hear or see to accept your position, which reasoning or argument turned them off and how you can modify it, and the like).

4)    Knowledge about what was misunderstood, distorted or unclear, and what you need to do about educating before you advocate.

“No voir dire” is a myth. It’s that simple. It is only a short-sighted, narrow view of voir dire that permits the belief that, just because counsel doesn’t ask the questions or there isn’t an extensive opportunity to make inquiry of prospective jurors, that it is an all-or-nothing proposition when it is not.

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

In our daily lives, without interrogating strangers, we make judgment calls all the time about who seems dangerous, who seems friendly, and many other “attributions.” That is, we can draw inferences about other people without asking them a single question. It is ingrained and a matter of survival. The key to doing so effectively in court is to be a skilled observer, knowing what you are looking for and looking out for, and avoiding what is called the “fundamental attribution error” (Lee D. Ross), which is attributing causes for observed traits to internal factors (such as personality characteristics) rather than to external, situational variables (such as how the setting may alter a person’s behavior, dress and mannerisms). Consider how the setting may itself be altering prospective jurors’ natural tendencies, if at all.

What is interesting and useful in the courtroom setting is that the situational variables (an unusually authoritarian, formal setting to most prospective jurors) and how people react to it is, in and of itself, critical information to consider in limited voir dire situations insofar as one can see, for example, how people dress for court. If they are wearing a running suit or a business suit speaks volumes, and if they are doing so because they hope to get out of being picked and going straight to work – whether as a gym instructor or financial analyst – you are likely to know and draw the proper inferences about them.  If someone is tardy or punctual is itself a marker of behavior that people draw inferences about everywhere else in life, so why not in the courtroom?

In brief, jury research is more important than ever when you will be making important decisions based on limited information and the information you get matters, but only reliable data can tell you how.

Other articles related to mock trials, mock juries, jury consultants, voir dire and jury selection on A2L Consulting's site:

jury consulting trial consulting jury research

 

 

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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The Very Best Use of Coaches in Trial Preparation

 

 

litigation coach lawyersby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Some time ago, I wrote about my intensive preparation for a conference speech that I was asked to give and about the 21 steps I took that made it successful. We've also written about how even the greatest athletes practice with their coaches and how great actors prepare with the assistance of others.

It seems to me, however, that most lawyers preparing for trial are hesitant to take advantage of coaching as a means of practice. So I thought I would share my experience, in close to real time, about how I am preparing for an upcoming commencement speech.

This coming May, I’m giving a speech at the graduate campus of the University of Mary Washington, where I serve on the Board of Visitors. It will only be 10 to 15 minutes long, but it is an important speech for me -- and that much more so for my audience. So I'm taking preparation for this event quite seriously.

One of the first steps I took after being asked to deliver this speech was to engage a coach. Now, I'm an experienced speaker. Part of my business is to train others on how to best present themselves. My firm publishes books on the topic of presenting well and making great visual presentations. So why would I need a coach?

I need a coach because my responsibility is to do as good a job as I possibly can in this speech, and a coach can help me do that. This responsibility is quite similar to the duty that a litigator owes to his or her client.

Perhaps it's helpful to remember that every professional athlete works with a coach, no matter how far along in their craft they are. I've always wondered why most lawyers don't do the same during their trial preparations.

So over the coming two months I'll be meeting with my coach several times and delivering practice commencement speeches. The coach’s job will be to give me feedback on my style, my content, and my message. I have no question that my talk will be better with his help than if I had done it alone.

So if you have a trial coming up, I invite you to talk to me. I can recommend a coach of almost any variety who can assist with your trial preparation. Some work at A2L on the litigation consulting and jury consulting teams. However, I know people ranging from acting trainers to body language experts. There are good people working in the industry. Take advantage of them, be courageous and improve your trial presentation. You and your client deserve it.
 

Other articles and free e-books related to trial preparation, practice, coaching, and giving a great presentation on A2L Consulting's site:

deliver great presentations inside and outside of the courtroom

 

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them

 

 

winning mock trials consultantsby Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting
A2L Consulting

A mock trial is one of the most sensible things a trial team can do as part of their trial preparation. Not only does a mock trial inform the trial team about how real jurors or a real judge will react to the fundamentals of the case, but it also helps narrow the scope of the evidence and arguments to use. If the research is done before the close of discovery, it can inform the key messages to assert or defend, the type of experts to retain, and the expert testimony that is sought or backfires. It can also inform the trial team if the case is a no-go when all arguments fail or the damages tend to be greatly higher against the defense or lower for the plaintiff(s) than expected. We have seen the results inform clients about dedicating additional resources to support counsel when the client underestimates what is needed to prevail.

In short, there are few pre-trial preparations one can conduct that have a higher return on investment than a mock trial. However, if you fail to avoid some very common mistakes, you are not using your time or your client’s money as effectively as you otherwise could.

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Below are 11 problems with mock trials and how to avoid them.

  1. Winning. You want to win for your side instead of actually testing your side’s strengths and weaknesses.
     
  2. Show Me – Don’t Tell Me. It is well established that most jurors prefer visual evidence and all modern trials use it. If you test a case without visuals, it’s a bit like going to the movies with a blindfold on and trying to understand the story. You will understand some of it, but there is a lot you won’t understand. Plus, the extra time invested in creating graphics pays for itself over and over in time efficiency and it is work you’ll use at trial anyway. Often, when it comes to creating a core set of graphics to show and tell your case, it forces you to focus on what is truly most important and what needs you to educate before you advocate. See Testing Graphics in a Mock Trial.
     
  3. Stacking the Deck. You provide graphics for your client, but not your adversary, so you tilt the results. Related to the first item and surprisingly common, if anything, you should work to stack the deck against yourself.  It is better to mock lose than to mock win so you learn as much as possible to remedy while there’s still time.
     
  4. Denial. You omit worrisome evidence. Often, trial counsel will leave out troubling evidence in a mock for a variety of reasons – some quite legitimate. However, you are better off knowing ten ways you might lose rather than one way you might win.
     
  5. Verdict on Liability. You use the results to predict the actual outcome on liability and damages. The reason to conduct a mock is not to predict what will happen -- although some analysis of that is inevitable and useful. Instead, use the mock to learn what works and what does not. Use the mock to gain language tools and learn subjects that require graphics tutorials that you can use at trial. If it helps to call someone a serial liar during the mock, you know you can do it at trial and it will help. If it boomerangs, better to know in advance.
     
  6. Buck to the Future. You use the results to predict the likely damages. It is unlikely that the economics permit such a large sample size that you can rely on the statistical results for predicting actual damages. Instead, you can learn the facts and arguments that fuel higher damages and ones which tend to mitigate damages and adjust for trial accordingly.
     
  7. Goliath vs. Some Other Guy. The best and most experienced person presents for your side and someone unequal to the task presents for the other side. No wonder you won, but what is that worth? Instead, make it an uphill battle. Put your 1st chair on your opponent’s side whenever possible. We understand that clients often want to see their advocate argue for their side, whether as a trial run or to put their best foot forward, but in the end, it can be a huge disservice.

    storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar

     
  8. Chronology vs. Story. You try to cover too many details rather than creating a compelling story to test. Rattling off what happened is not telling a narrative. Use it as a foundation to tell the highlights in your story. It’s the spine, but not the body. See A2L's Storytelling in Litigation Webinar.
     
  9. Home is Where the House is. If you don’t do the mock trial in the actual trial venue, it is hard to know how the real jury pool will react and what they might be sensitive to as local issues that can impact their perception of the parties and the case. Clients may be over-sensitive to the risks of local research. If there are local rules against it (e.g., as in the E.D. Texas) or the pool truly is tiny, that’s a valid reason. If not, there are native sensibilities that are important, but will be missed if a matched venue is used.
     
  10. Cast of Characters. Without explaining who witnesses are when citing their testimony (e.g., the credentials of expert witnesses or the roles of fact ones), their testimony is flat. Instead, make a visual glossary of key players. If their positions are pertinent, include an organizational chart. If their credentials are important, present their CV visually.
     
  11. Set Client Expectations. Mock trials are best if you lose so that you learn challenges to overcome, but if your client loses confidence in the trial team for mock losing, then what? Instead, explain to your client up front that you are going to make it a challenge to win this so we can learn how best to fight this case by testing the worst-case scenario. The more criticism we hear from jurors, the better. 

It is better to fix the problems in the case than for the mock to be fixed.

 

Other articles and resources related to mock trials and jury consulting services from A2L Consulting:

  jury consulting trial consulting jury research

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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17 Trial Consulting and Jury Consulting Tips for Midsized Law Firms

 

 

jury consulting jury research trial consulting midsize law firm market share litigationby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

This is Part 3 of a four-part series on the rise of the midsized law firm in litigation. Parts 1,2,3,4.

$10 billion in legal fees spent by outside counsel over a recent three-year period were analyzed by Lexis-Nexis. For litigation matters where at least $1 million was spent, it was discovered that law firms with 201-500 lawyers (midsized law firms) increased their market share from 22% to 41% while firms with 750 or more lawyers (large law firms) saw their share fall from 26% to 20% over the three-year period. This shift represents one of the biggest changes in the history of law firms and makes obvious that the rise of midsized law firms is underway in high-stakes litigation.

In the previous two articles in this series, I talked about what midsized law firms need to know about using litigation graphics and trial technicians/trial technology. Here, I wish to discuss how a litigator from a midsized firm can use trial research, commonly called trial consulting, jury consulting or even litigation consulting.

For the most part, I think mid-sized law firms have made good use of mock exercises, even though they use them a bit differently than large law firms use them in large cases. If midsized firms are to find success in large cases and save money for their clients through lower fees, they will have to prove themselves.

One of the easiest and most logical ways to ensure success is to model it and test it, and that's what trial consulting or jury consulting is -- a platform for seeing what works and what does not. Surprises occur in every exercise -- although there are some common things all mock juries say.

1. One Size Does Not Fit All: Just as both a midsized firm and a large firm can try a case, not every large case needs a large exercise. It's not all or nothing. One mock jury panel is not usually enough, but four jury panels over multiple exercises with retired federal judges observing does not suit most cases either. These days, good trial consultants build an exercise to suit the case. See our Micro-Mock service for example.

storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar

2. Corporate Clients Still Expect Large Law Firm Results: Great results are often the result of a great trial team that has extensively tested a case through research and adapted to those results. If your clients expect great results, explain that research is not an area to cut back on. Research, like other litigation consulting services, is really a drop in the bucket of the overall litigation budget and the ROI is very high.

3. Research is a Money Saver Not a Money Spender: You can cut more than you think in most cases. Trial consulting is one of the best ways to find out where. Often themes, experts, and litigation graphics can all be trimmed as a result of conducting good research.

4. Local is not critical: Can you try cases effectively only in your back yard? Of course not. The same is true for a good trial consultant. Don't skimp on quality just because you think there is some magic local understanding that the researcher must have. Remember, the research is conducted on local people and that is where the answers come from, not the researcher.

5. Your administrative staff is not a good barometer: It is well known that running a case by your admin staff or family is not a good use of time. You are not going to get the outside feedback that you need.

6. Nothing is more expensive than a cheap lawyer or trial consultant: Pay less, get less. Everybody is willing to reduce price these days, so you really need to distinguish based on quality and experience more than ever before.

7. Have your client see you perform: Since in-house counsel is still, on some level, trying to justify the choice of a midsized firm, it is a good idea to let them see you perform a bit. However, you might not want to use stage one of the exercise for this purpose because you'll look better in front of the client after some practice.

8. The Difference Between Small Cases and Big Cases is Really Big: One panel of jurors is not really research. There is not enough data to draw meaningful conclusions. Unfortunately, many midsized firms are used to a one-panel approach. In big cases (really all cases), two to four panels work but only one does not.

9. Longer is not usually better: Sometimes, counsel wants to schedule multiple days for a mock, and it is usually unnecessary. It is better to say less and gather more reactions than to schedule more detailed and longer presentations.

10. Test graphics: Today, graphics are an essential component of a mock exercise

11. Use technology: Practicing with your trial technician is often a good idea during the mock.

12. Most midsized firms are not used to using outside sources for witness preparation: Deposition may be the only testimony their experts give in most cases. However, there is little preparation of key witnesses just before the deposition. As a result, the witness can easily be tripped up. Preparation is the key. See Witness Preparation: Hit or Myth?

13. Investing time in voir dire. Don't rely on your tried and true approach. The questions that are submitted should be highly customized. Our five-part series on voir dire should be helpful. It begins with Jury Selection and Voir Dire: Don't Ask, Don't Know.

14. Jury questionnaires should be one result of a mock exercise wherever possible: They should be the result of an mock exercise, not something that is done by gut instinct. 10 Signs of a Good Jury Questionnaire.

15. Use mock exercises as development tools: One thing that has led to good results is experience litigating a case to verdict. Yes, experience matters. But, as fewer cases go to trial, getting that experience is largely being relegated to mock exercise rooms.

16. Budget: Rather than ask for a budget and try to get a deal, present what you have and ask your jury consultant to give you a solution. 

17. Mocks are Being Used in Surprising Places: We wrote an article that might surprise even a veteran litigator: 11 Surprising Areas Where We Are Using Mock Exercises and Testing.

Parts 1,2,3,4.

jury consulting trial consulting jury research

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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9 Things Outside Litigation Counsel Say About In-house Counsel

 

 

outside counsel say about inhouse counselKen Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Even behind closed doors, our law firm clients have very good things to say about their in-house clients. It's relatively rare that I hear any serious complaints. Almost without exception, our outside litigation counsel clients are actually quite proud of the relationship they have with their mostly Fortune 1000® corporate clients.

However, especially in these times of change, with all the talk of a legal industry new normal, I do hear some frustrations being discussed regularly. Below are nine things I hear outside litigation counsel say regarding in-house counsel that deserve more attention:

  1. We would all benefit from better early case assessment: Outside litigation counsel understand that litigation costs are under fire. By making outside counsel part of the solution rather than a line item to avoid later, better decisions can be made. A2L, for example, is being increasingly asked to use a variation of our Micro-Mock process to help both in-house and outside litigation counsel assess the potential merits of a case closer to filing than to trial. Failing to do this type of formal analysis often leaves too much to instinct and emotion.
     
  2. When the stakes are high, let litigation counsel do what they are good at: Some corporations are often involved in litigation but are still rarely involved in high-stakes litigation. The two types could not be more different. Controlling costs in small cases is critical. However, trying to control the throttle too much when hundreds of millions or more are at stake can be like jumping over dollars to pick up dimes. Outside litigation counsel who are expert at their craft need room for creativity. However, that does not mean the relationship should be without structure. Rather, I believe that it is the structure, in the form of budgets, reporting and deadlines, that allows for maximum creativity by outside litigation counsel.
     
  3. Put settlement and trial preparation on separate tracks: Settlement talks often fail. Sometimes one side may disingenuously signal settlement just to slow down trial preparation. For these reasons and more, it is important to allow settlement talks to proceed while fervent trial preparations continue. It is normally best to create a separate settlement team when settlement is a possibility and trial is approaching. See related article about two-track trial preparation strategies: Litigation Consultant: Embrace a Two-Track Strategy & Win the War.
     
  4. Enthusiastically embrace mock trials: This is one of the most common frustrations I hear from outside litigation counsel. They want to conduct mock trials, but frequently get resistance from in-house. Once they get that resistance, they sometimes fear that insisting on a mock makes them look like they don't know what they are doing when exactly the opposite is true. After all, if practice didn't matter why would all great athletes and great actors do it almost obsessively? In this era when trials are quite rare at large law firms, in-house counsel should want to encourage practice via mock trials since it will help them get a better result and may help inform settlement. See 7 Reasons In-House Counsel Should Want a Mock Trial.


    Click here to Downloada Free Litigation E\u002DBook


  5. Watch the mock exercises: While I think outside litigation counsel from prior generations preferred to run a case with minimal regular input from in-house counsel, these days, in-house counsel are involved more regularly. One area where in-house counsel should increase their involvement further is in the attendance of mock trials. From behind a one-way mirror, you will learn more about your case, the perception of your firm, and your choice of outside litigation counsel in one day than in the year(s) of preparation that proceeded it. The great lawyers will want you there while the less confident prefer to prepare privately and avoid mock trials altogether. Keep an eye out for this litigation counsel red-flag.
     
  6. Be clear with your leadership approach: In a recent article about joint defense teams, I touched on the topic of litigation leadership by in-house counsel. Generally, I believe that a variety of team structures will work so long as they are clearly defined and executed. Trouble arises when there is confusion about who is in charge. See 5 Tips for Working Well As a Joint Defense Team as the lessons discussed here apply just as well when working with a single law firm.
     
  7. Litigation consulting vendors are not created equal: Preferred vendor relationships are on the rise for litigation consulting firms. We participate in them at A2L and encourage them. However, market disruptions are putting the future of some trial graphics firms (not ours) that regularly appear as preferred vendors in question. Procurement departments and in-house counsel are going to have less visibility into vendor stability than outside counsel, and outside counsel should generally make the final decision about who to use for jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial tech for best results.
     
  8. Pay vendor bills on time: Litigators never want to deal with getting bills paid as they prepare for trial. It's distracting and annoying. All relationships on the team are weakened when bills are not paid timely. The bottom-line benefits of simply paying bills on time was covered in more detail in a recent article, 10 Ways Timely Payment Helps You Save Money On Litigation Consulting.
     
  9. There's more that outside counsel can and should be doing: From early case assessment by litigators, to client counseling about the very things they try cases about, to participating in non-litigation messaging, to assisting in lobbying and legislative activities, outside litigation believe they have a lot more to contribute to the operation of a business than they are being asked to do. As an informed outsider, may I suggest that in-house counsel consider starting off 2014 by asking your outside litigation counsel how they can help you manage budget better and run the business more effectively. The best litigation counsel will have an informed answer for you. The litigators that you will soon want to relegate to your slip-and-fall cases will look at you like a doe in the headlights.

Articles related to the role in-house counsel can play in litigation and managing litigation costs:

storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar

About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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7 Reasons It's Okay to Procrastinate on Your Trial Preparation

 


trial prep litigation procrastination trial lawyers procrastinateby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting procrastination is a good idea. Rather, I just want you to know that even if you do procrastinate on trial preparation, things will probably work out okay.

Why? Because we have spent 18 years designing a company around managing fire drills - and there are other companies like ours with the same mentality. Yes, we all are the firemen and firewomen, indeed the smokejumpers of the litigation support world. We're routinely being called in to fight a fire that blew up unexpectedly, to put out one that looked like it was being doused, or even to fight one that got much larger than anyone ever anticipated.

Sometimes, life's realities get in the way of good planning. It might be another client. It might be a holiday. It might be that the client is in denial about going to trial. We see all of these a lot. While not great excuses, they are understandable.

Fortunately, we at A2L and other firms like A2L have been doing litigation support work for a long time. We have seen it all when it comes to trial preparation. Mock trials are run a few days before trial. Litigation graphics are prepared at the 11th hour and the use of a trial technician is only approved a day before she is needed in another city.

Click here to Downloada Free Litigation E\u002DBook

It's not great when things go this way. I'm pretty sure the client is hurt in the end, but I'm not saying it's malpractice either. After all, more often than not, the client is at fault in some way, and it is usually about budget.

The great law firms won't stand for this behavior from their clients. They'll fund and execute trial preparation themselves when the client is dragging his feet. However, not every lawyer has the chutzpah to work with (or around) their client this way.

Although we still hope that you will practice extensively, plan for a great presentation using a 30:1 preparation ratio, develop a one-year trial prep calendar, and not make avoidable trial preparation mistakes, here are seven reasons that you can STILL procrastinate and we'll make sure it works out anyway.

  1. We're used to it. It is not uncommon for someone to call us and say they have a case with $100 million at stake and it's going to trial in less than a month. This used to happen more often than not. However these days, it is happening less and less. Trial lawyers have come to accept that the level of preparation expected of them is much greater than it was five years ago and hardly resembles what was acceptable 20 years ago.
     
  2. We have built our systems to spin up quickly. Rushing does not equal efficiency. However, we have built staffing and technology systems that allow us to expand and contract very quickly. We, and other firms like ours, can do this on-site or off-site.
     
  3. We use a variable staffing model. People often ask me how large our firm is, and my answer is usually that I don't know today. We have spent the last several years building a flexible system that can go up or down 30 or 40 employees in a week or two. This just-in-time system is brilliant if you think about it. It keeps costs down for our clients, and it avoids the problem that plagues many firms where people sit on the sidelines waiting for something to happen.
     
  4. We build stories for a living - often at the last minute. This morning, our team was discussing a case that is on the eve of trial but has no story built out yet. Like a lot of cases, it arrives on our doorstep as a chronology. There is no story, no meaning and nobody would care what happened really. Our opposition, however, has a simple to understand emotional story. So, in a week or so we will build out a truly compelling story for our side. We do this routinely.
     
  5. Let us sweat the small stuff. Since you now have to rush and get your case ready for trial, we can take on the challenges of preparing the trial database and being ready to present any document on a moment's notice. We can handle courtroom logistics as well and make sure all of the electronics are set up perfectly. That is what our trial technicians do every day.
     
  6. We can help you practice. We have systems to do small scale and rapid testing of a case. Sometimes we conduct a Micro-Mock exercise. Sometimes we conduct a full mock exercise but use the jury consultants to present the case (thus freeing up counsel from preparing for a mock and a trial) to the mock jury.
     
  7. We are professional simplifiers. If you go to trial often, you have certainly found that the simpler you make your case, the better your results. It's true for many reasons, but making a case simple for judge or jury takes a very long time. Fortunately, we litigation consultants know how to do this faster than anyone. Indeed, it may be the most valuable thing we do.

The more time we have, the better the result - always. However, when you are up against the wall for whatever reason, please be aware that our firm and many firms like ours know how to jump into battle instantly.


Other A2L Consulting articles related to trial preparation best-practices:

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About A2L Consulting

•  Leading national litigation consulting firm since 1995

•  Personnel nationwide

•  Routinely voted #1 for demonstrative evidence consulting, jury consulting or intellectual property litigation consulting nationally

•  Consulted for all major law firms on 10,000+ cases with trillions of dollars cumulatively at stake offering:

Trial Consulting: mock trials, Micro-Mock™, mock Markman hearings, jury consulting, shadow juries, jury selection and more; 

Trial Graphics: legal graphics and litigation graphics, courtroom animation, video, printed foam core trial exhibits, PowerPoint presentation consulting, simplifying the case story and more; 

Trial Technology & Onsite Personnel: ebriefs (electronic briefs), hot seat operators, trial technicians, courtroom presentations and more; 

Look for A2L trial consultants, graphics consultants and jury consultants in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, Boston, MA, Alexandria, VA, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, Texas, Los Angeles, CA, and San Francisco, California, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, Palo Alto, Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Richmond, VA, Salt Lake City, Denver, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Brussels and many other cities and countries around the world. A2L Contact Information


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