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The Litigation Consulting Report

In Trial Presentation - A Camel is a Horse Designed by Committee

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 03:17 PM

trial presentation camel horse committeeThere is an old expression that a camel is a horse designed by committee.

The expression means that when many individuals design something as a group, every imaginable feature will go into the finished product – and it will end up with many important features. But the product will have lost its beauty – and sometimes will have lost some of its usefulness as a complete entity.

Working with trial teams to create a trial presentation can sometimes feel a bit like designing a horse and ending up with a camel. Many people provide lots of input on a particular presentation and sometimes, it ends up that too many features have been added to a single trial presentation. Unless a strong leader seizes control and dictates the final content, the project can go in any number of directions at once, and it may fail to be as outstanding a product as it can be.

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An easy business comparison is Apple. There, great design is at the core of the company's success and has made it the most valuable company in the world.  Since the 1990s, the man behind this great design is London-born designer Jonathan Ive. Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, has been responsible since 1996 for leading a design team widely regarded as one of the world’s best. Ive has been said to have “the obsessive desire to create products that are meaningful to people.”

Ive is ultimately responsible for the design of the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.  It was he who brought the great designs to Steve Jobs for his consideration. Jobs would pick among Ive’s proposed designs. Fortunately for us, Jobs was right most of the time.  What we never see from Apple, however, are all the rejected designs.

At A2L, we see ourselves as the Jonathan Ive of a trial team, constantly bringing great trial presentation ideas and prototypes forward with the hope that the first chair litigator will see something that he or she likes.  In my experience, the stronger the leader, the more likely it is that a good trial presentation design approach will be selected and the camel-like result avoided.

Our recommended approach when lots of individuals need to provide input on a project is simple. Everyone has a voice, but only one person has a vote.

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Management, Leadership

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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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