by Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
I was reading the Washington Post’s Business section on Sunday morning, and a front-page article about Sean Parker caught my eye. Parker, dubbed “Silicon Valley’s Bad-Boy Genius,” co-founded Napster and was the first president of Facebook. He was also played by Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network.” Far from a routine business profile, this article provides several fascinating lessons concerning the importance of creative collaboration.
Apparently tired of catering to the entertainment needs of millennials, Parker recently launched the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Although it was notable that Parker invested $250 million to support groundbreaking research into eradicating a disease that kills millions each year, even more important is his model of creating a “sandbox” for scientific research. At press time, six premier medical research institutions—Stanford, Hopkins, MD Anderson, UPenn, UCSF, and UCLA—had signed up to be part of the consortium that Parker is creating to fight cancer. The premise behind the effort is that working together in the sandbox is far more effective than working alone. That truism is not one that is always followed.
I have worked with some great litigation teams over the past 20 years—teams that constantly encourage fresh ideas and reassessment of the facts; that meet and openly share ideas; that reward free expression and discourage groupthink. But I have also worked with teams that do none of these, where the lead lawyers are either too egotistical or too insecure to foster the free exchange of ideas. It seems obvious that spending the time to brainstorm is a good thing, not a bad thing. But institutional factors and personality traits can often sabotage implementation of the obvious.
At A2L Consulting, we have a sandbox and we enjoy playing in it. When a new matter comes our way, we first individually get our arms around it, and then we meet. Whether at the table in a conference room, in front of one of our many whiteboards, or on a conference call, we work together, each of us bringing his or her own unique perspectives and experiences to bear. Our owner has been providing litigation consulting services since the mid-1990s; our lead Ph.D-educated jury consultant has been doing this work for over 30 years; I have been in the trenches on a diverse array of cases for 20 years; and our team of litigation graphic artists have collectively been at this for decades. Not only can collaboration be fun and rewarding; it brings a better product to the table.
That’s also the beauty of the consulting business itself. To be effective consultants, we always ask our clients to tell us the best and worst about their cases and to tell us the best and worst of our performance as consultants. Similarly, we are not afraid to offer our own perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of our client’s arguments and to offer constructive critiques on their presentations. We all become better when we share, openly work together, and move beyond the barriers of ego.
Having a sandbox and being able to play nice in it constitutes the beginnings of collaboration. Sharing ideas, pressure-testing them, and brainstorming about new ones is the hallmark of creativity.
Other A2L Consulting articles related to effective litigation team management, creative collaboration, and getting great litigation results:
- How Does a Trial Presentation Consulting Firm Do What It Does?
- 9 Things I’ve Noticed About Effective Litigation Graphics After 20 Years as a Litigator
- 10 Key Steps After: "I've Got a Case I Might Need Help With”
- $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation
- In-House Counsel's Role In Keeping Litigator Ego In Check
- 3 Ways to Handle a Presentation-Challenged Expert Witness
- In Trial Presentation - A Camel is a Horse Designed by Committee
- 7 Things In-House Misses When Litigation Consultants are Underutilized
- 5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements
- 25 Things In-House Counsel Should Insist Outside Litigation Counsel Do
- 9 Things Outside Litigation Counsel Say About In-house Counsel
- 9 Things In-House Counsel Say About Outside Litigation Counsel