by Ken Lopez
I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong, and perhaps the entire litigation consulting industry is doing something wrong. Every so often when I am talking to a litigator they say something like, "but you guys wouldn't do a small project like that, right?" Nine times out of ten, nothing could be further from the truth. It's exactly what we do. So, why do litigators seem to think litigation consultants only work on BIG projects?
I've talked to my colleagues in the litigation consulting industry (i.e. jury consulting, litigation graphics and courtroom technology), and we agree that most of us suffer from a reputation that the industry has collectively built over the last 20 years. For better or for worse, the belief seems to be that you have to have a big case to warrant hiring a litigation consultant.
Reality is very different. Every single day of the year we are working on a project that most would characterize as small. To give you a flavor for projects that I would consider small but are routine for firms like ours, here is a list of 11 sample projects we have done that were all in the $2500-$7500 range:
- Design a litigator's two-hour CLE PowerPoint presentation. Left on their own, most attorneys will build a presentation filled with text and bullet points. This is an example of failing to combine oral and visual messages properly, and it often does more harm than good. The oral and visual message ends up being nearly identical, and the audience suffers for it. So, it is our pleasure to help refine these presentations. See 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations and Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors.
- Use a series of illustrations to make an animation. Animation does not always have to be expensive. This series of illustrations below brought into PowerPoint and played in quick succession gives the feel of animation without the big cost. See What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples).
- Five printed trial boards designed and used at trial. I'm convinced that printed trial exhibit boards are making a strong comeback. Why? Well, juries are used to PowerPoints now. If you want to make them pay attention, a trial board is a good way to cause them to pause and think, "this must be important, they made this impressive big poster just for us."
- Two-day arbitration with a supporting trial technician. When there are no litigation graphics and jury consulting needs, using a trial technician for a couple of days is quite affordable. See Making Good Use of Trial Director & Demonstratives in an Arbitration and Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics.
- A day and a half of witness prep. One witness can easily make or break a case. For a small investment, the return on high-quality witness preparation can be enormous. Most litigation consulting firms with a jury consulting expertise should be able to provide this service, but not all are created equal. See Witness Preparation: Hit or Myth?, The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses and 7 Things Expert Witnesses Should Never Say.
- Clean up, enhance and label 30 photos for trial presentation. It's not as easy to "enhance" a photo as they make it look on CSI, but it is not expensive to do either. The right amount of clean up and encouraging labels that direct juror attention can be a wise investment.
- Create a settlement presentation. Obviously, most cases settle. Without a strong position and leverage, a settlement will be much lower than it could have been. Smart litigators work with litigation graphics consultants to develop a mini-closing presentation that creates leverage by giving a flavor of how trial might go. With no rules of evidence to create boundaries, maximum intestinal discomfort creates maximum leverage.
- Design a 12 slide pre-indictment presentation. The government may not have many trial budget restraints, but they don't like to lose either. Good white-collar defense counsel will work with a litigation consulting firm to create a a presentation that shows the government why they will lose at trial if they choose to indict the client. See 4 Litigation Graphics Tactics When the USA is a Client or a Foe and 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not).
- Clean up and refine a 45-slide administrative hearing PowerPoint. Two-thirds of the population prefers to learn visually. If you neglect to present complementary visual aids, you will forfeit a large portion of your persuasive power. If you have a presentation in the works, letting a professional clean it up and refine it can be a very smart use of budget dollars. See 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations, Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You, and Presentation Graphics: Why The President Is Better Than You.
- Spend a day discussing and another day finalizing five litigation graphics. I don't think it takes more than five great litigation graphics to win a case - the question is always which five however. That's why spending a day with a litigation consultant who is a litigator and graphics expert themselves (I know three good ones nationwide) will yield time and money savings. If you can work together to identify five amazing silver-bullet graphics, you can win a case on a small budget. See Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer).
- I lied, this one is actually free. One thing we do that I encourage our fellow litigation consultants to do (who feel qualified to do this work) is to provide sales presentation support gratis to clients who are making pitches or presentations. We have done this for years, and I know how much our clients appreciate it.
I hope this dispels some myths about the jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology consulting industries. While some projects surely are six-figure projects, the reality is that most are not. Like a lot of things in life, it never hurts to ask your litigation consulting firm whether they can help you.
Other articles related to costs of jury consulting, litigation graphics, trial technicians, animation, keeping budgets down and alternative fee arrangements.
- FREE E-BOOK DOWNLOAD: Getting Good Litigation Consulting Value on a Budget
- What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples)
- What Do Trial Presentation Services Cost?
- What Does Using a Trial Technician or Hot-Seater Cost?
- 21 Secrets for Using Litigation Consultants on a Tight Budget
- 7 Ways to Prepare Trial Graphics Early & Manage Your Budget
- 16 Litigation Graphics Lessons for Mid-Sized Law Firms
- 8 Trial Technician-Related Tips for Midsized Law Firms
- 17 Trial Consulting and Jury Consulting Tips for Midsized Law Firms
- 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not)
- 10 Ways Timely Payment Helps You Save Money On Litigation Consulting
- 17 Tips for Great Preferred Vendor Programs
- 12 Alternative Fee Arrangements We Use and You Could Too