by Ken Lopez
As litigation consultants, jury consultants, trial technology consultants and litigation graphics consultants, we have the opportunity to share our decades of experience in over 10,000 cases, working with litigators from all major law firms, with our litigation clients every day. Clearly, this is a valuable service, and I believe great litigators become better litigators for having worked with our firm.
However, I also believe that litigators can learn a lot about trying cases, just as our jury consultants do, by watching other litigators. Unfortunately for most lawyers, especially those at large law firms, having the opportunity to watch other litigators try cases is actually quite rare.
Even a large law firm has relatively few cases that actually go to trial, and client demands do not allow litigators the ability to watch a case live from beginning to end simply for the professional development opportunity. Since few courtrooms record trials on video, how is a litigator to keep improving their skill set?
For most litigators looking to add to their experience, CLE programs like those at NITA, pro bono trial opportunities and mock trials run by jury consultants have historically helped fill the training void. However, one place where many of us go to learn and improve skills outside the courtroom, a place where we might expect to learn more about litigation - YouTube, actually has very few courtroom videos. As it is in many ways, the legal industry is peculiar when it comes to cameras in the courtroom - they're banned in federal courts.
Whereas one could easily go online and learn how to build a back yard pond, do the latest laparoscopic surgical technique, become a better salesperson or refinish a valuable antique; learning great litigation skills still largely requires live attendance at trial.
Fortunately, however, the times are beginning to change. Some great CLE programs, oral arguments, trial tactics and litigator training videos are making it onto the internet. Pointing the way toward the future are companies like the Courtroom View Network, who are selling complete trials on DVD - what better way could there be to research the style and techniques of opposing counsel?
In the absence of that future ideal state where videos of great examples are plentiful and at arm's reach, or the click of a link, here are 10 must-see videos for litigators. Our litigation consultants and jury consultants have hand-picked these videos, as each offers helpful techniques for the modern litigation team.
1. Looking Your Best in a Video Deposition: Have you ever wondered how your client can come off looking better in a video deposition? As our jury consultants will attest - it turns out that the way you sit in your chair can change how credible you appear.
2. Will Trial Technology Make You Look Too Slick? We covered this topic in a previous article and thought this powerful post-trial jury interview deserved a second look. This rural Arkansas jury is not shy about sharing their feelings toward trial technology and litigation graphics. Thankfully, the jury consultants in this case captured their opinions.
3. What Percentage of Jurors Decide a Case After Opening? According to this litigator, the number is shocking. It's consistent with the experience of our jury consultants too. You'll never look at opening the same way again.
4. David Boies Talks About U.S. v. Microsoft: More than 10 years have passed since this famous antitrust case. In that time, the legend that is David Boies has only grown.
5. F. Lee Bailey on Cross Examination: Known for a quick mind and blistering cross, these F. Lee Bailey clips offer cross exam lessons for any litigator.
6. Ted Olson and David Boies Deliver Oral Argument: One of our jury consultants said this was like De Niro and Pacino appearing in the same movie. Famed litigators Ted Olson and David Boies argue Prop 8 before the court in Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
7. What Should a Litigator to Do With Their Hands: Here is a short reminder of how and when to gesture while speaking to a jury. Our jury consultants like this video because the instructor follows his own suggestions well and the tips are straightforward.
8. What Jurors Want to See: This video from a NITA (National Institute of Trial Advocacy) instructor is very much in alignment with the teachings of our jury consultants and our litigation graphics consultants.
9. A TED Talk on Data Visualization: We believe this speaker honors our profession with his message and approach. He reminds us that how we show data and what data we show will have a significant impact.
10. What Litigators Can Learn About PowerPoint from a Comedian: Don McMillan's take on what NOT to do with PowerPoint has long been a favorite of our firm. Although delivered in a comedic wrapper, these PowerPoint suggestions are especially applicable for litigators making courtroom presentations.
One day, hopefully soon, cameras will be allowed in all U.S. courts. Then, we litigation consultants, jury consultants and litigators will truly experience something special. Just imagine how much one could learn from a top 10 video list of the most effective opening statements of the last year. The practice of law would be better for it.