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The Litigation Consulting Report

Ken Lopez

Ken Lopez is a life-long Alexandria, Virginia resident and entrepreneur. While attending the Widener University School of Law, Ken taught himself computer animation as a hobby. It was that hobby, combined with his law degree and a degree in economics from the University of Mary Washington that helped launch his career of entrepreneurship. In 1995, he founded his first and now 19-year-old company, A2L Consulting, where he serves as its CEO. A2L provides trial support services to nearly all of the nation’s top law firms and their clients around the world. Often called upon when the dollars at stake are high, A2L’s services include helping to predict how judges and juries will react to a case, the creation of sophisticated visual evidence used to persuade judges and juries, and the deployment and use of state-of-the-art technology in the courtroom. Best selling business author Dan Pink highlighted A2L in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, and Ken has been quoted by many news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the BBC. Recently, the readers of LegalTimes voted A2L the best jury consultants in Washington, DC and readers of the National Law Journal voted A2L Best Demonstrative Evidence provider in the country. In 2013, The American Bar Association named A2L’s blog, where Ken publishes weekly, one of the top 100 blogs in the legal industry. A2L is not Ken’s only business. In 2008, Ken developed a patent-pending method for determining the schedule of litigation in federal court cases. That invention became the basis of his second firm, called LawProspector. LawProspector sells information about upcoming cases and the attorneys involved in them to litigation support sales teams worldwide. In 2013, Virginia’s Governor appointed Ken to a four-year term on the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves on the Dean’s National Advisory Board of Widener University School of Law, and recently completed a seven-year term on the Alexandria Small Business Development Center’s Advisory Board. His favorite hobby is collecting historic items related to Alexandria, and Ken is in the process of developing a web-based platform to allow people to better share and interact with local history. In spite of an interesting and varied career, Ken still lists his top passion and proudest accomplishment as “father of triplet girls born in 2008.”
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Recent Posts

Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 @ 09:51 AM

bullet-points-persuasion-courtroom-trial.jpg

by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We recently asked three top trial lawyers about what makes them so successful in the courtroom. They are quite a successful trio. One of them is Bobby Burchfield of King & Spalding, whose bio notes, “Mr. Burchfield has never lost a jury trial.” That's an especially impressive track record as he's been in practice more than 30 years.

So what does winning take? Well, as we saw in previous clips from the same interviews, these trial lawyers believe, as we do, that storytelling is at the heart of building a successful case. Furthermore, as all demonstrative evidence consultants and most trial lawyers will tell you, combining persuasive visual evidence with persuasive oral communications produces a truly synergistic persuasive effect. Persuasion is a rare circumstance where 1+1 really does equal more than 2.

Of course, as we have long counseled, just because something is projected on a screen does not make it helpful at a trial. In many cases, as in the case of lawyers who use bullet points to summarize their arguments on screen, some visuals actually make you less persuasive. If yours looks like the image here, then you are certainly doing more damage than good.

For more on why that's true, please see our articles 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere), The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make, and Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors.

In this three-minute clip, we hear from the best of the best -- Bobby Burchfield of King & Spalding, Rob Cary of Williams & Connolly, and Patrick Coyne of Finnegan. And we certainly don't hear them talking about the power of bullet pointed lists.

Instead, you hear these trial-tested litigation experts talking about the use of animation, the value of timelines, and the importance of showing real evidence to ground your argument in credibility.

Burchfield said, “People learn both by seeing and by hearing, and if you can combine those two in one presentation, the more sensory perceptions you combine, the better off you are. Timelines are powerful persuasive tools. A timeline shows from left to right who did what and to whom. Sometimes you show in a timeline above the line what your client knew and below the line what your client didn’t know. It can be a powerful story to show contrasting events that were going on simultaneously. This helps the jury put the entire case into context.”

Cary noted, “When a jury can see something that visually displays the evidence, that cloaks you in credibility. That’s critical in earning their trust.”

Coyne pointed out, “People are predominantly visual. Most people need an image. They need it to tie things together. Ken [Lopez] and his people did a fantastic animation for us. The judge turned to the other side and said, ‘If I credit this animation, you lose. Do you know that?’ It was a very compelling animation. That’s what I mean by appealing to the judge by giving him a visual that explains what you’re trying to say.”

Watching lawyers like these work is a pleasure and their teams score high on our assessment of what makes a great trial team.

Other articles related to persuasion in trial, the use of bullet points, and trial presentation best practices from A2L Consulting:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Storytelling, Bullet Points, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Timelines, Persuasion

The Value of Storytelling: A Current Case in Point

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Mar 1, 2017 @ 01:21 PM

storytelling-success-trial-litigators-lawyer.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

An article last month in The Recorder, a publication of American Lawyer Media, makes clearly and concisely one of the points that we frequently try to make here on this blog.

The article explains what happened in a wrongful-termination trial in federal court in San Francisco, which ended on February 6 with a $10.8 million verdict, plus $5 million in punitive damages, against Bio-Rad Laboratories and in favor of the company’s former general counsel, Sanford “Sandy” Wadler.

It quotes James Wagstaffe, the lead lawyer for Wadler and a partner at the small San Francisco firm of Kerr & Wagstaffe, as saying that the key to winning a jury trial is storytelling.

In the article, Wagstaffe is quoted as saying, “The need to tell and hear stories is primal. Trial lawyering is part of that primal need. The jury wants to hear a story.”

Wagstaffe’s story was that his client, Wadler, was a classic whistleblower who was fired for trying to expose corruption in the company’s foreign offices. The opposing counsel, John Potter of the prestigious firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, presented his own story – that Wadler was unqualified for the job and that he made up the allegations of possible bribery and corruption in order to save himself from being fired. According to this story, Wadler was no whistleblower at all.

With the help of a 21st-century approach to evidence, Wagstaffe prevailed in the case. As he told The Recorder, his legal team had a hunch that a positive evaluation of Wadler from the company’s files was not created when it appeared to have been created. The lawyers used the very new science of metadata – information that can determine a document's file type, its creation date and who accessed it – to determine that the document was actually created after Wadler was fired. The jury seems to have found that contention persuasive, among other things, and returned a verdict for Wadler within less than three hours.

But apart from the CSI-style use of computer evidence, this is a real-life instance in which an experienced trial lawyer explained his success as the result of successful storytelling. That is what we at A2L do with our clients. We help lawyers build and tell stories that are, quite simply, more convincing and more true to life than the other side’s stories.

Other articles and resources related to using storytelling as a persuasion tool in litigation from A2L Consulting include:

Tags: Storytelling

10 Fears That First-Time Users of Litigation Consultants Have

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 @ 05:14 PM

fear-use-litigation-consultants-jury-graphics-technology.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

At A2L, we have worked with thousands of clients over the last several decades. When we first started, almost no trial lawyers had experience with litigation consultants. However, as time went on, the majority of the people we work with have used either jury consultants, litigation graphics consultants, or trial technology in-court specialists at some point in their careers.

All these years later, perhaps 20 percent of our clients are first-time litigation consulting users. Not surprisingly, first-time users exhibit many of the same fears that newcomers have shown for decades.

Most of these fears are simply fears of the unknown, not actual problems with using litigation consultants. At the core of these fears is a fear of being out of control. But when is a client ever really out of control? Never. We service providers strive at all times to make our clients happy. 

Still, many fears persist about using litigation consultants the first time.

  1. Fear: Costs will spiral out of control. Reality: In my opinion, some of the firms who have failed in our industry helped create this fear. At our firm, we strive to be completely transparent about costs. To that end, we've developed alternative fee arrangements, we've developed loyalty programs, and we are deadly serious about telling our clients everything they need to know about costs.
  1. Fear: I'll be revealed for who I really am. Reality: Most good leaders struggle with imposter syndrome to a degree, myself included. In my experience the best litigation leaders not only question their approach regularly but they invite that type of questioning. See, 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams.
  1. Fear: I don't want to be told what to do. Reality: Only a non-savvy litigation consultant would tell you what to do. Remember, you're the client. Yes, winning is a priority but so is building and maintaining a relationship with you.
  1. Fear: I might look bad to my client. Reality: Great litigation consultants pay as much attention to the relationship between you and your client as they do to the relationship they are building with you. 
  1. Fear: I'm supposed to have all the answers. Reality: No, you're not. You're no doubt an expert in many areas, but nobody is an expert in all of them and nobody has the time to prepare for everything leading up to a major trial. Delegation is as much a sign of good leadership as anything else. See, 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams.
  1. Fear: No really, I'm supposed to have more answers than I have. Reality: One of the most important reasons to work with litigation consultants is to get to the point where you can thrive in doing what you do well, and your litigation consultants can do what they are so well trained to do. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators.
  1. Fear: I don't want to practice in front of others. Reality: What great athlete, politician, actor, or speaker does not practice in front of others. If you want to be great, practice is non-negotiable. See, The Very Best Use of Coaches in Trial Preparation.
  1. Fear: Technology makes me uncomfortable. Reality: A great litigation consulting firm will take technology off your hands as much as you like. While many jurisdictions demand technical competence from lawyers now, it is perfectly reasonable to delegate all or most of the tech needs at and leading up to trial. See, From the Hot Seat: To Use or Not to Use Trial Presentation Software.
  1. Fear: I don't have time. Reality: Using litigation consultants saves time. They take things off your hands that you probably should not be doing anyway. See #10 in 12 Reasons Using Trial Consultants (Like Us) Is Possibly Not Fair.
  1. Fear: I don't need help - that's for the weak. Reality: The best litigators I work with seek help - all of them. Even trial-challenged litigators I know seek help. In my experience, the only people who don't seek help are people who are afraid they are going to lose. See, 3 Trial Preparation Red Flags That Suggest a Loss is Imminent.

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Technicians, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Psychology, Alternative Fee Arrangements

12 Reasons Using Trial Consultants (Like Us) Is Possibly Not Fair

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

unfair-advantage-trial-consultants-jury-graphics-technology.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

When I speak to an audience about the work A2L does (other than trial lawyers from large law firms), I sometimes hear the question, “Is the kind of work A2L does fair?” That is, is it fair to have trial consultants support a trial team and use the latest in persuasion science to advocate only one side of a case? In a group setting, my lawyerly answer is usually something like, “What does ‘fair’ mean to you?” Then we litigate the nuances of fairness.

What I really think, however, is that the work we do definitely tips the scales of justice in our client’s favor. Is that fair? Probably. After all, ferociously advocating one’s position using all available tools is one of the hallmarks of our justice system. But what if, as is typical, one side has a larger litigation budget than the other. Is it fair to have a firm like ours on one side and not the other?

I've heard others reply to this question by comparing the vast differences in trial lawyer quality and arguing that the system is designed to smooth these talent gaps out. I don't have a specific answer right now, so I I'll simply say that I think it's a fair question. Trial consultants do influence outcomes of cases, sometimes to an enormous degree.

Indeed, a branding firm, after surveying our customers and staff, once recommended that we use “Unfair Advantage” as our firm motto. I never really fell in love with the motto, and we didn’t end up really using it, but I understand the sentiment completely.

In more than 20 years and thousands of cases, I’ve never seen one that was not improved by the input of a trial consultant. I've seen losing cases turned to winners and damages swing in the billions of dollars. Consider 12 advantages that trial consultants offer – ones that your opposition might say are just not fair.

  1. A Fresh Pair of Eyes: Trial lawyers who like to get their answers questioned outperform those who are not open to much input. Trial consultants offer a safe place to bounce theories, narratives, demonstratives, voir dire strategies, trial presentation strategies and more off smart people who are on your side. See 7 Reasons a Fresh Pair of Eyes Are Beneficial Before Trial.
  1. An Experienced Pair of Eyes: If you've been in the litigation industry for decades like me, you've watched as trial lawyers who used to go to trial every year now go to trial only every three, five or even eight years. Meanwhile, trial consultants have moved in the opposite direction and often see dozens of trials per year. So high-performing clients and high-performing trial lawyers very sensibly rely on trial consultants to enhance the trial experience of the team. See With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?
  1. Practice: One of my former colleagues turned judge was so right about this: “They call it the practice of law but nobody is practicing.” Trial consultants help trial teams practice effectively. This is critical because so few trial teams are really practicing. Those who don't practice in front of peers underperform others. Those who do, outperform most trial lawyers. It's so obviously correlated with good outcomes, I believe that the quality of practice is a reasonable proxy for the outcome of a case. See 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation.
  1. Even Michael Jordan Had a Coach: Name an athlete or anyone at the top of their game and you'll likely find a coach who helped them improve. That's what high-quality trial consultants do. They help bring out the very best in a trial lawyer. See Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators.
  1. Getting the Right Jury: Most jury research we engage in has a voir dire component. Conducting a mock trial with a voir dire component massively influences how juries are picked, and the makeup of a jury massively influences the outcome of a case. We've even released an entire book on this topic. See New and Free E-Book: The Voir Dire Handbook.
  1. Persuasion Science with Visuals: Understanding how visuals persuade people is a surprisingly new science, and many new discoveries are being made. Trial consultants bring a level of understanding regarding visuals that is not present in a law firm. There are visual persuasion tactics that knowledgeable trial consultants can use to influence juries. See Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? and 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations.
  1. Persuasion Science with Rhetoric: Similarly, there are rhetorical techniques such as the use of repetition and surprise that are now known to persuade juries. Just the way you start your opening will influence what a jury thinks. It's not malpractice to not know these things, but it is certainly not a good practice. See A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial.
  1. Persuasion Science with Storytelling: We so often write about how storytelling can be used to persuade. We even recently interviewed some top trial lawyers and asked them how they use storytelling. Rely on a talented trial consultant and they will make you a better storyteller. See Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important.
  1. Trial Consultants Save You Time: You can delegate certain persuasion-related tasks to a trial consultant that allow you to focus on other elements of the case. This gives you a real advantage over opposing counsel who cannot do thisSee Trial Consultants: Unfair Advantage?
  1. No Lost Opportunity Costs: My mentor likes to advise me in my CEO capacity by saying, “Only do what only you can do.” This advice works well for a trial team too. If you're editing PowerPoint slides, you're disobeying this good advice. See How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?
  1. More Poise = More Persuasion: The way you carry yourself influences your persuasiveness. Watch this video from Amy Cuddy and read my article about her new book. Trial consultants help give you real confidence by supporting you as a trial lawyer and they can also advise how to do this in those situations where you just need to fake it. See A Harvard Psychologist Writes About Presenting to Win.
  1. Using Trial Technology Well: Many lawyers think they can use technology effectively, but not many really have this skill. A good trial consultant will understand courtroom technology and will help you get a leg up on the other side. See 12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout.

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Psychology, Storytelling, Practice, Body Language

How to Get Great Results From a Good Lawyer

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 @ 12:35 PM

litigation-consultants-great-lawyer-good-lawyer.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Not all lawyers are created equal. It's amazing how hard it is for those outside the legal industry to understand this.

Many people regrettably believe that those human aptitudes that require creativity and skill are binary. Either you can design a house or you can't. Either you can knit or you can't. Either you have a singing voice or you don’t. And in that same vein, either you're a lawyer or you're not.

This is the wrong way to look at it. In all these areas, there are variations and gradations of skills. This is never more true than for trial lawyers. The distance that separates the satisfactory from the great is vast. I have met very few people who are great trial lawyers.

The challenge with great trial lawyers is that they know they're great, and they charge accordingly. So what should a client or company do when they want to get great results at trial, but they only have the budget to pay a lawyer who is good but not great?

It is possible to do that – but it requires a new type of thinking and a new way of looking at the legal industry.

I've written before about the characteristics of great lawyers, the characteristics of great trial teams, and the challenge resulting from the fact that very few trial lawyers have much trial experience these days. There's just no substitute for experience. No one is that smart, that well-educated, or that well-mentored.

This solution is going to sound self-serving, but the longer I work in the litigation field, the more deeply I believe it. It goes like this: In the modern era, clients and lawyers simply must learn to rely on expert litigation consultants. They are the performance-enhancing drugs that make good trial lawyers great and great trial lawyers unbeatable. 

To be clear, these litigation consultants are not trial techs or 20-something graphic artists. Those professionals are important too, but that's not who I'm talking about. Instead, these are trial-tested litigators or highly experienced Ph.D. consultants who routinely act as coaches to the best of the best trial lawyers. These are people who go to trial every month and operate with the best of the best.  

They offer a kind of assistance that is relatively new in the industry. They work with counsel to develop a compelling narrative. They help develop an opening statement. They prepare just the right visuals using scientifically proven techniques that enhance persuasion.

These litigation consultants are not easy to find. I'd be happy to recommend someone who is the right fit for you.

Other A2L articles and resources related to litigation consulting, storytelling, and the use of litigation graphics to persuade include:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

 

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Jury Consultants, Storytelling, Opening, Midsize Law Firms, In-House Counsel, Persuasion

2017 Will be a Great Year for (Most Types of) Trials

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

2017-trials-economic-outlook-litigation.jpgKen Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

This is the fifth consecutive year that I've written a new year economic outlook article focused on litigation. Please review some of my previous articles that were focused on 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013. While I believe that 2017 will be a very good year for litigation, it will not be good for everyone. From where I sit, things look and sound remarkably different during this current economic expansion than they did in previous years.

A2L's litigation consulting business, one focused almost entirely on trials, is thriving. We've grown more than 50% in each of the past two years, and I'm forecasting similar or better growth for 2017. Our growth is spread across many law firms/corporations and many areas of the law, so I know it's meaningful growth.

Yet any conversation with my large law firm managing partner friends or my big company in-house counsel friends suggests that litigation should be having an off year. These well-informed sources, as well as courthouse data, tell me that case filings are down and that litigation at big law firms is down.

So, how can our trial-driven firm be prospering and big litigation departments be faltering? One of us has to be looking at the litigation industry all wrong, right? 

Actually, I believe that we're both right, and I'm trying on some new vocabulary to explain it.

I've long observed that litigation is closely tied to economic growth. It's simple logic. Big companies drive both the economy and big-ticket litigation. When one moves up or down, so does the other, quite reliably. 

After more than 21 years as one of the leading litigation support companies largely focused on big-ticket litigation, I (finally) realize there is a more nuanced way of looking at litigation and trials. I used to think litigation was either small-ticket or big-ticket, and A2L is focused mostly on the latter. But now, after going through a few periods of robust economic growth (the early and mid-2000s and the current market), I understand that there's actually a third type of litigation. For now, I'm calling it resolvable big-ticket litigation.

By “resolvable big-ticket litigation,” I'm referring to those large cases with between tens of millions and billions of dollars at stake that could be settled if the parties were truly motivated to do so. Everyday big-ticket litigation is distinguishable from resolvable big-ticket litigation since in the former type, there just isn’t a good settlement position. Perhaps it's a patent dispute where there is no reasonable licensing compromise, or an antitrust case where the merger is either going to be approved or blocked, or one of those cases where what’s at stake is a principle, not money.

What I notice about resolvable big-ticket litigation is how highly sensitive it is to economic fluctuations. Yes, all big-ticket litigation rises and falls with economic conditions. But resolvable big-ticket litigation is very sensitive to it. Economists would say it is highly elastic; if there is a small increase in the rate of economic growth, resolvable big-ticket litigation skyrockets. Of course, the opposite is true too. When the economy dips or economic uncertainty is introduced, those resolvable cases are in fact resolved because companies stop gambling or at the very least, they take some risk off the table.

The last year I saw resolvable big-ticket litigation performing as well as it is now was 2005. I expect current levels to continue through 2017 at least, and here's why.

Big-ticket litigation generally, and certainly resolvable big-ticket litigation, is highly correlated with the economy, and leading indicators that reliably predict economic growth six to nine months in the future are soaring.

Take a look here at the latest report of ECRI, the Economic Cycle Research Institute or simply look at these charts below.

ECRI-2017-leading-indicators-litigation.jpgIf you read annual articles of mine in the past, you know that I put enormous faith in the work of ECRI. They publish these straightforward leading indicators, and notably they have been on the rise for the last year and they are currently reaching levels we have not seen in a decade. 

In both the weekly chart and the monthly charts above, the green line reflects a prediction of what will happen in six to nine months based on very reliable data. If it's going up, it's good because it means growth is coming. Down means growth is slowing.

Under the weekly chart, there is a monthly chart looking at the past 40 years. Look only at the green line, and you'll see the historic levels the growth rate leading indicator is approaching. If you want to learn more about this forecasting tool, I recommend the book Beating the Business Cycle.

With this level of economic growth setting up, I'm expecting another great year of trials of all types. However, if resolvable big-ticket litigation is the type that really skyrockets in boom times, I'm also looking for more of that this year.

So, while there are in fact fewer trials than there used to be, resolvable big-ticket litigation appears to be on the rise. For the typical large law firm, this means fewer cases but a higher proportion of trials. For a company like ours, these are boom times. The biggest risk for our firm and the entire litigation industry is whether uncertainty generated by the change in the administration causes large companies to pull back on their litigation spend or take fewer risks at trial. Time will tell, but the leading indicators do not suggest a pullback—yet.

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

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Economics, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Support, Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Juries, Psychology, Storytelling, Judges, Persuasion

Confidential A2L Consulting Conflicts Check Form

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Watch Now: Persuading with Storytelling



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Authors

KenLopez resized 152

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


tony-klapper-headshot-500x500.jpg 

Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@a2lc.com.


dr laurie kuslansky jury consultant a2l consulting







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

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