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The Litigation Consulting Report

Printed Trial Boards Making a Comeback? It's Courtroom Deja Vu!

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Oct 6, 2011 @ 06:50 AM

Electronic presentation tools such as PowerPoint and Trial Director have changed the wayprinted foam core trial boards in which lawyers and trial consultants present evidence to juries. These programs and others like them are so flexible and helpful in presenting numerical data, timelines, biological processes, the workings of machinery, and other information that in many ways they have displaced the old-fashioned methods such as printing words and graphics on foam core trial boards.

However, I believe that the printed and mounted foam core trial board is making a comeback and should return to the arsenal of trial presentation tools used by litigators – if it ever left at all.

After all, the purpose of any trial exhibit is the communication of information. The precise medium of communication is secondary. Any trial exhibit is designed to represent information that is relevant to the case in a way that fosters a believable and lasting impression with the judge or jury.   

While most of our exhibits are electronic these days, we are still, in the appropriate cases, presenting exhibits on foam core where the situation calls for it.

When A2L was founded 16 years ago, we would go to court with hundreds of 40 inch by 60 inch trial boards for a single trial. Every document call-out, every photo and every other type of exhibit was printed. Rare was the use of electronic evidence. That changed gradually over the years, and now jurors, in every kind of complex case, in every region of the country, have come to expect to see fairly sophisticated electronic evidence in the courtroom.

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Now, it is the trial board which is rare. Like a miniature poodle in a group of dogs of ordinary size, or a handwritten, signed letter in a sea of emails, a trial board stands out.

To a jury, a board is not something they are used to seeing. So when they see it, they pay attention to this special thing that has been crafted for them.

Foam core is a type of material that is ideally suited for trial boards. It consists of an inner layer of polystyrene with outer facing of white clay-coated paper. Trial exhibits are printed on a large format printer and mounted onto the foam core board. Optionally, they can be laminated to give the board a more finished look and additional strength.  Printed trial boards can be easily displayed for viewing by judges and juries and will stand up to repeated handling, yet they are not overly expensive.

We now advise our clients to use foam core boards to draw attention to the key messages in their case. To us, documentary evidence is like the words of a sentence, demonstrative evidence is like the commas and trial boards are like the exclamation points.

To see more examples of our trial graphics click here.

To download free litigation consulting and trial consulting materials click here.


Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Consulting, Juries, PowerPoint, Trial Boards, Information Design

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


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

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

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