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The Litigation Consulting Report

How to Be a Great Expert Witness (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Klapper on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 @ 10:57 AM

expert-witness-visual-persuasion.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

In my last post, I talked about the fact that an expert witness needs to express her expertise in a convincing way – but also in a way that the typical juror can understand and not in the language of a specialist.

The next step in becoming a truly effective expert witness is to understand the power and the importance of visual learning.

It’s a safe bet that your peer-reviewed articles contain tens of thousands of words. Your academic poster contains hundreds, maybe thousands, of words. Your PowerPoint presentations delivered to your peers contain bullet point after bullet point of words (and maybe a smattering of cartoons).  

Ask yourself: How many television commercials convey the importance of the advertised product through words? How many magazine advertisements do the same through words? How many movies convey their story through words? How many architects explain their designs through words? How many patents have no pictures and just words? And how many biology textbooks have no illustrations and just words? In all these instances, the visual is what matters.

Studies have shown that two-thirds of jurors learn primarily through visual means. And the need for visuals becomes even greater when the information being conveyed is highly complex. That does not mean that you should simply rely on Excel charts, images of equations, and chemical formulas to convey your points. It means that you should consider incorporating litigation graphics as demonstrative evidence for your opinion testimony.

Explaining with 2D animation in PowerPoint how the mucociliary escalator removes inhaled particles from the body is far more effective than just talking about it. Describing through an interactive timeline the complex series of steps that were employed to design and build a consumer product is far more effective than just talking about it. And demonstrating through high-quality photographs and well-placed arrows that the key component of your client’s widget looks nothing like the component claimed in the allegedly infringed patent is far more effective than just talking about it.

When working with counsel to prepare your direct examination, you should demand that time be spent not just on what you are going to say but also on how to present it visually. If possible, find opportunities to leave the witness stand and demonstrate your point with physical evidence, or draw a picture on the flip chart. The more you are the teacher and not the talking head, the more likely the jury will connect with you and find you credible.

In our next post, we will discuss the proper state of mind for the testifying expert.

Other articles from A2L Consulting discussing the importance of visual learning, PowerPoint, and expert witness testimony:

expert witness trial testimony ebook a2l ims

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Advocacy Graphics, Expert Witness, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Judges, Persuasion

Why Lawyers and Litigation Graphic Artists Need to Work Together

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

lawyers_artists_working_together.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

At A2L, we strongly believe that strong visual presentations are indispensable to courtroom success. But great visuals don’t just create themselves. Top-notch litigation graphic artists are the ones who make unforgettable visuals, and that means that graphic artists need to be a crucial part of any trial team.

And good graphic artists aren’t easy to find. As a graphic design website explains, a great graphic designer should “love art in all its forms” and “should live to create and to be inventive.” A graphic artist needs to understand color, composition, typefaces and dozens of other design elements and to use the best digital tools available.

All that means that trial lawyers need to learn how to work seamlessly with graphic artists. This isn’t necessarily so straightforward; after all, trial lawyers and artists are literally using different parts of their brain to approach a problem. Lawyers are classic left-brain people. The left hemisphere of the brain is dominant in language processing, logic, mathematical computations and memory. The right hemisphere, on the other hand, oversees spatial abilities, visual imagery, and the interpretation of context and tone. Those right-brain aspects reflect the skills and strengths of a graphic artist.

Together, the left-brain skills of the attorney and the right-brain skills of the graphic artist should produce great results – if they can work together. The trial consultant on the team ideally has a foot in both worlds, understanding the importance of precision and logic as well as the need for clarity and beauty. The trial consultant can “translate” between the lawyer’s language and the artist’s language and maximize the contributions of each one. It’s a role of the trial consultant that isn’t often noted but one that can be crucial in building the necessary collaborative spirit.

It would therefore be a shame if, as some trial teams do, the lawyers were to belittle the contributions of the graphic artist and just have him put into graphic form the lawyers’ idea of what the trial visuals should look like. Instead, an excellent graphic artist, such as those who work for A2L, should have the authority to suggest what the visual presentations should be like at trial. Empowering the graphic artist in this way not only adds a new “set of eyes” but also adds a whole new way of thinking.

As is almost always the case, the best results in litigation graphics aren’t just the work of one person. They grow out of collaboration, not dictation. One of the best things about working with a company like ours is that we know how to meld the disparate approaches of different human beings to create a great result.

Other A2L resources discussing how trial lawyers and litigation graphics professionals can work best together to win cases:

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Persuasive Graphics

How Many PowerPoint Slides Should You Use in a Typical Trial?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 @ 01:45 PM

how-many-powerpoint-slides-too-many.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

How many slides should a world-class trial lawyer or trial presentation consultant create for use in a typical trial? That’s an interesting question that I hadn’t thought of until recently, when I had a fascinating debate with some litigators about this topic. One took the view that a trial with twice as many issues should require twice as many slides, even if the two trials are of equal length. I disagreed, and I think these litigators found my position confusing at first.

I told them that the presumption for any trial team should be to use as few slides as possible to make a point. More slides just create more complexity. And that inhibits persuasion.

There's a famous quote that has been attributed to many people, but it is correctly attributed to French mathematician Blaise Pascal: “I would have written a shorter letter if I had more time.” I think this sums up in many ways the goals of effective trial presentation. If you find yourself going to trial with 500 slides that you plan to use in a five-day trial, you are probably overdoing it. But people do that all the time.

I wrote about this topic in an article discussing how the PowerPoint slides that you do use are informed by the ones you don't. I think of it like a sculptor and Michelangelo’s famous saying how he could see the finished piece in the block of stone, he just needed to chip away the extraneous stones.

I do think trial presentation should work something like that. That's why it takes a long time to make a good presentation and why you should not find yourself at the end of the trial apologizing for not having written that shorter letter.

Here are a handful of best practices for any PowerPoint slide presentation with additional reading incorporated throughout:

  • Don't use bullet points. I've said this so many times that I'm nervous about over-repeating this stance. It's not the bullets that are bad, of course. It's that when you use them, you tend to commit all of of the PowerPoint slide sins that measurably and are scientifically known to diminish persuasion.

Other A2L articles related to using PowerPoint slides well in or out of the courtroom include:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics

12 Things About PowerPoint You Probably Never Knew

Posted by Alex Brown on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 @ 11:47 AM


PowerPoint tips tricks lawyers opening statementsby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

The definition of power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Graphic artists of all shapes and sizes, once they fully delve into using the Microsoft PowerPoint tool, usually end up surprised by the power inherent in PowerPoint.

When you hear people say they hate PowerPoint presentations, they usually use excuses like; “It’s too wordy, excessive effects, it puts me to sleep, Group read along, Rorschach effect, frivolous fonts, and BULLET POINTS!”

The truth is they are correct. PowerPoint is not always used to create litigation graphics to the best effect. But that doesn’t mean you should blame the tool. Here are 12 tips and features of PowerPoint that will excite and enlighten even the most creative thinker.

  1. Narrate over slides. This is especially effective when you need to create a technology tutorial or explain otherwise complicated material. We have done this for many a client using professional narrators and always with the desired effect. The audience is engaged and understanding the message as they should.

  2. Pan and zoom. Images can do more than just appear on the screen. You can create movement to keep your audience focused on what you want them to focus on. This is effective when you have a lot of images that you want to share, but in the end, you want them to focus on a specific one. You can use the zoom feature to focus them and then you can add callouts so they understand what they are seeing and what you want them to remember.

  3. Embed a functioning Excel worksheet. Suppose that your damages expert has made some brilliant worksheets. Embed them into your deck. There’s no reason to use paper handouts or to switch from one program to another. You can also manipulate the worksheet so they focus on the numbers that are key.

  4. Pop-up/call out Instead of having a slide appear completely filled with text, have it appear when needed and be replaced as you move down your key points. This is effective because you allow your audience’s eyes to focus on specific things and keep them engaged. Science dictates that they will retain more information this way.

  5. Charts. They can be used effectively to show how things relate to each other, such as a timeline, organizational chart, flow chart, or process diagram. Lawyers often are afraid to use charts because they fear that the audience will get ahead of the message. This is true in many cases, which is why you want them to build up slowly, not just sit on the screen as a static image.

    powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

  6. Pictogram or infographic images. What is expected from a trial team changes almost monthly. Today, infographics are huge, and the icons, images, and feel of infographics are comfortable and accepted. Use today’s marketing messaging to your advantage so your audience receives the message and retains the information.

  7. Highlight text to draw attention. Use a call-out to highlight a quote or a section of a contract. You want the audience to get the feel of what is being highlighted but you also want them to remember a few impact words. We all remember the old videos with the “follow the bouncing ball.” Take advantage of that familiarity and highlight the text at the moment you want them to focus on that impact word. It can be a very powerful way to get a message across to your audience.

  8. Illuminate, glow, or change the color of the text to draw attention. Like highlighting, you can also be subtle and use these options to almost subconsciously get them to remember impact words during deliberation.

  9. Embed videos. Today, your audience expects you to show them something that will wow them. If you don’t, you run the risk of disappointing them or even making them feel as if you were simply not trying hard enough. You want to keep their attention; what better way to grab it then to add video to your deck. You no longer need to bring up a different program or use a machine to play video. On a click, you can show them exactly what you want, highlight things throughout, create pop-ups or call-outs around it. This is very powerful and something we have been doing for years. See, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

  10. Animations. Many people fear animations, and they should. The courtroom is not a good place for flashing, spinning, exploding transitions. Animations are incorporated, however, in all of our decks, used sometimes without detection. The best effects are the ones that draw attention to the message, not the transition.

  11. Create custom bullets. Bullet points kill your presentation, period. But we still use lists, just in a way that does not make it LOOK like a bullet list. Create icons instead of black or colored dots. Don’t use them at the beginning, but add check marks at the end. This changes the feel and increases impact.

  12. Use 3D effects. This goes right back to what the audience expects. If you need to use a 3D image, use it. We have done this for impact and retention for years. You do not need to always use a 3D program to do it. We have used movement to backgrounds to simulate depth and perspective. All in PowerPoint. See, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

It is not your job to learn different litigation graphics packages to entertain your audience. It is your job to keep your audience engaged by employing these and hundreds of other persuasion tools so they learn and retain the information needed to achieve success when the verdict is handed down.

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Other articles and resources related to the use of PowerPoint at trial, litigation graphics and PowerPoint trial graphics generally:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Animation, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Infographics

3 Observations by a Graphic Artist Turned Litigation Graphics Artist

Posted by Maureen Vogel on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

graphic design litigation artistby Maureen Vogel
Litigation Graphics Artist
A2L Consulting

Before becoming an artist here at A2L Consulting, I was what you might call a typical graphic designer. I specialized in creating visual art, primarily for nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC area. My primary focus was usually to visually convey a single important message with each graphic. I’d never concerned myself personally or professionally with the world of litigation.

When I was a graphic designer, the software platforms Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign were my standard canvas. However, as a litigation graphics artist, I usually stick to PowerPoint as the fundamental visual presentation tool. Although graphics may often incorporate visual concepts developed outside the PowerPoint platform, this is the foundation for presentation, and much of my artwork is now done in PowerPoint itself (and sometimes in Keynote for Apple devices). PowerPoint is a surprisingly powerful tool. In addition, I have noticed that there are quite a few differences between graphic design and litigation graphics art.

Here are some of the differences I have observed that I find most interesting.

1. Color psychology is very important in litigation-focused graphics.

litigation-graphics-pyschology-color-meaning.jpgYes, color psychology is important in the graphic design realm as well. But in litigation graphics, using the wrong colors in court could offend your audience or negatively affect their mood. That would be a catastrophe.

One example I’ve encountered at work was when the client asked me to change a list of people’s names on a PowerPoint slide from black to red. Red is a color we generally try to avoid in PowerPoint slides because it can increase aggressive feelings in audience members (jurors). Also, I had my own personal aversion to red; depending on the culture, the color red can also invoke very different emotions. For example, in Japan, my home country, writing a person’s name in red means that person will die soon. This would accordingly evoke a very specific emotion in the wrong audience. Because the client’s goal in changing the black font to red was simply to make it more visible and not necessarily to invoke feelings of alarm or aggression toward the people listed, we suggested a brighter blue font instead of red. Almost any color you can think of invokes a specific emotional response, so plan accordingly for your litigation graphics.

A2L is looking for talented graphic designers! Read more here.

2. Litigation design tends to have uncertain or very tight deadlines

deadlines-trial-graphics-litigation.gifWhen I was a graphic designer and did freelance graphic design work, I usually had a good idea of when the project needed to be done. This is not the case with litigation graphics. But perhaps it should be.

As a litigation graphic artist, I sometimes feel like a doctor on call. Trial dates can be changed at any time, and projects that were once due in a week can all of a sudden be due much sooner.

If you want your litigation graphic artist to create very persuasive demonstratives, make sure to devote enough time to brainstorm what graphics are needed to support your client’s story and also give the artist ample time to complete the work. This seems simple enough, but I see that that trial teams more often than not wait until what seems like the last minute to begin to develop the visual component of their trial presentation. From working with A2L, I know that this does not fit with the best practices. I suggest that trial teams begin thinking about how they’ll present their cases to a jury (or judge) many months in advance of actually needing to do so. This gives them enough time to plan for the arguments and to have a professional team craft winning graphics to go with those arguments.

3. Creativity is often influenced by the judge

demonstrative-evidence-consultant.jpgAs a graphic designer, my task was to portray information in the most creative way possible. Litigation design, on the other hand, usually isn’t a contest to see how artistic you can be (it helps, but that’s not the main focus). The judge often will determine the level of creativity required or allowed for courtroom graphics.

Before clients hire us, they typically need to get permission from the judge for the types of demonstratives allowed at trial (e.g., PowerPoint, posters, videos, etc.). Once the types of demonstratives are decided upon, we begin creating graphics accordingly. Sometimes a set of visually pleasing graphics that we’ve created need to be reduced to what one might call “bland” visuals because according to the client, “the judge is very conservative.

For those who believe they will be shot down for being too creative, consider that sometimes an element of surprise is a good thing. Creativity can be conservative, and higher style can be more engaging to even the most conservative of audiences. Words don’t persuade; arguments do. I suggest crafting visuals that convey ideas and emotions rather than pure language – asking an audience, be it a judge or juror, to remember words and more words is not engaging.

Overall, there are quite a few differences between graphic art and litigation-focused graphic art; however, in the end, they both require knowledge of the foundations of art and design – which are concepts appreciated by any audience.

A2L is looking for talented graphic designers! Read more here.

A2L Consulting articles focused on demonstrative evidence, trial graphics, and litigation graphics consulting:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Infographics, Information Design

What Does A Case-Winning Trial Graphic Look Like?

Posted by Ryan Flax on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 @ 12:57 PM

itc-litigation-graphics-wiper-blades-patentby Ryan H. Flax
(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Sometimes a trial graphic really does make the difference.

We can’t say that in each case we’re involved in, a trial graphic likely won the case or played a major role in the win. We support some of the best lawyers in the country and they use the tools we provide to do what they do at trial. Usually we’re there to make sure they do the best they can do, but sometimes we provide that key image or animation (and the associated consulting input) that really clicks with a judge or jury and enables the win. Here’s a recent example.

“Insert, Pivot, and Lock”

This was a patent infringement case before the U.S. International Trade Commission concerning the connection mechanism between automobile windshield wiper blades and wiper arms – that little piece of plastic that might as well be a Rubik’s cube for most of us almost every time we need to change our wiper blades. Our client held several patents covering a very special wiper blade connector that was being ripped off by a competitor. To win at trial (final hearing at the ITC), we had to get the judge to agree to our way of understanding the rather verbose patent claim language covering what was a simple, although elegant, invention.

patent-claim-language-trial-graphic.jpgHere’s an example of the claim language captured as an image from the patent:

I’d say that this is a challenging read, whether you’re a judge, a patent attorney, or a fast food restaurant cashier. It’s pretty technically complex and rather long. Definitely “lawyery.” No doubt that it satisfies the legal requirements for claim language, but it almost takes one’s breath away.

We needed to distill this language and the concepts behind it into something that was easily understandable, but we couldn’t be over-argumentative about it. Upon reading this claim language with the benefit of the rest of the patent’s disclosure and the reader’s own common sense, the invention had to seem simple (but elegant).

With that understanding, how do you do it?

After a good deal of brainstorming with the litigation team, we found that the core of the invention was the configuration of elements that allows a user to join a wiper blade to a wiper arm by simply inserting the end of the wiper arm into the connector and then pivoting the two parts together so that they securely lock with one another. Easy enough to say, but it wasn’t so easy to actually identify this concept and explain it with any level of simplicity and specificity and persuasiveness.

After a good deal more brainstorming and whiteboard drawing, we developed a graphic design that really explained it. It was much easier to grasp the inventive concept and more convincing to show it visually, as follows:

With the animation above, we boiled down the claim language into something understandable by anyone, tangible, and acceptable for the judge. We can SEE it; he could see it. It makes perfect sense. The invention (and the infringing products) must work this way – of course.

It may look exceedingly simple, but I assure you it is not. It was not so simple to conceive as a solution to the obstacles in the case. It was not so simple to design conceptually. And it was not so simple to develop the 2D animation (all in Microsoft PowerPoint, I might add). It all works and worked perfectly.

After we showed this animation to the judge during the claim construction hearing, and after the accompanying argument, he eventually began reciting the tag-line of “insert, pivot, and lock” himself in addressing questions to counsel. A pretty good result to that point.

The results of the case were even better.

In the public version of Judge Pender’s Initial Determination (at 32), when discussing the claim construction, he titles one section “The End Portion of the Wiper Arm and the Connecting Element Can Pivot with respect to Each Other About the First Location Until Said Securing Portion Secures the Second Part of the End Portion of the Wiper Arm.” This illustrates that he really gets it. He doesn’t mention the insertion part here, but this part of his final opinion is devoted to the concept that after that insertion the two wiper system components pivot together to lock securely, just as the demonstrative shows. It is clear that the accused devices do this and equally clear that the prior art does not, so the judge’s recognition of this concept is critical to both making the infringement case and overcoming the opposing invalidity case.

In the infringement part of his Initial Determination (at 36 et seq.), Judge Pender identifies that the accused devices are assembled via a “simple pivoting motion.” Thus, in his finding, they infringe the patent’s claims. The claims cover “insert, pivot, and lock.” The covered product works by “insert[ing], pivot[ing], and lock[ing].” And the accused devices infringe because they, too, “insert, pivot, and lock.”

Winner!

Moreover, the animation above does more than establish that the wiper blades are connected by inserting, pivoting, and locking. It shows that this motion of locking can be engaged from either side of the wiper blade, that is, in a “toe-to-heel” or in a “heel-to-toe” insertion and pivoting. This was also crucial to establishing infringement by the accused devices (see Initial Determination at 40 et seq.). Judge Pender found that the respondent’s arguments that they couldn’t infringe because their products connected in a backwards sort of way compared to the complainants’ devices were just plainly erroneous.

The result of all these favorable events was a complete victory for our client. The judge found a violation of Section 337 and recommended that the commission issue an exclusion order against the opposing party, which will stop importation of the accused, infringing wiper blade products.

It is not my intention to minimize in any way the wonderful advocacy by our client in this matter. It was truly outstanding. I believe that counsel’s trial strategy combined with the effective demonstrative evidence really sealed the deal here. Seeing, in this case, was believing.

Other articles on A2L Consulting's site related to patent litigation and the use of visuals in patent trials, in the ITC and in IPRs:

patent litigation demonstrative evidence

Tags: Patent Tutorial, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Patent Litigation, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, ITC

5 Trial Graphics That Work Every Time

Posted by Laurie Kuslansky on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 @ 02:14 PM

five-trial-graphics-that-always-work-at-trialby Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury Consulting
A2L Consulting

        and

Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Having conducted hundreds of mock trials and observed and polled jurors in hundreds of actual trials, we see the jurors asking the same questions over and over again – questions that the trial presentation should have answered.

In view of that, here are five different subjects for trial graphics that are almost sure to answer some jurors' question in every case. They are so standard as scene-setters that they almost always have a place in a trial. Without them, triers of fact often feel as if they have come in after the movie started and that they can't rewind to get the answers. 

These five trial graphics fill in important blanks, prevent confusion, and create the foundation to tell your story, your way. Imagine the difference between being introduced to someone merely by name (“This is John Doe”), to whom you nod politely, but in whom you are unlikely to take interest -- and being introduced more fully (“This is Professor John Doe, who is in charge of research on meteors at M.I.T.”), whom you now likely have greater interest to get to know.

1.  An organizational trial graphic or players chart showing the major players, their relationships, and their role in the case as you see them.

players chart trial graphic

A players chart answers questions like:

Who initiated the relationship?

What did each need or bring to it? Why?

Who is in charge?

Who did what?

Who knows whom?

What are the coalitions and who are adversaries?

Who was a good or bad actor?

A2L is hiring! Know a talented presentation designer for our DC headquarters?


2.  A chronology and timeline of key events that shows what happened in what sequence, which leads to conclusions about cause and effect.

timeline trial graphic

A timeline or chronology answers questions like:

When did the relationship start?

What happened during the "courtship" and "honeymoon" periods?

When did things go wrong?

When did the deterioration start?

What happened just before or after it?

When did the relationship end?

How did each side react?

 

3.  What each gained or lost from the events in the case. This shows motive or the lack of it, equity, value and other important points.

elements of crime trial graphic


A gain/loss, events, or elements trial graphic answers questions like:

What did each put in or take out of the situation?

What was their value?

Does it seem fair and balanced or not?

 

4.  How the damages do or do not add up in a way that jurors can follow along by themselves, simply.

damages-trial-graphic.jpg

If lay jurors cannot “do the math” in their own terms, it’s hard to convince them to award or mitigate damages. They can't fight opposing views just by taking your word for it or decide the battle of the experts in the experts' terms.

 

5.  Who is...?

expert cv resume trial graphic

Charts that show the identity of the litigants or key players and play up or down their history, size, wealth or function can make or break how triers of fact view them, blame or credit them, determine who is the victim, apportion fault and damages, decide credibility and reach other important conclusions about liability and damages. Are they so rich that damages won't affect them?  Are they so experienced that they should have known better?  Are they so well credentialed, that you should believe them, even if you don't quite understand them?

Without answering these essential who/what/where/when/why questions that accompany any case, you may not be able to satisfy the triers of fact when it comes to the more challenging questions of the case at hand. Instead of depriving them of this important information, make it handy.

Other articles and resources related to using a trial graphic, litigation graphics, demonstrative evidence, and winning using these tools:

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Timelines

Can State and Local Governments Afford Litigation Consultants?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 @ 10:19 AM

state local government jury consultants graphics litigation consultants pricingby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Well, yes, of course they can. In fact, we are hired by them with some frequency. Let’s be specific.

Our firm is just about 20 years old, and while our typical client is a medium-sized to mega-sized law firm, we work with a government entity every month of the year. Usually, our work is on behalf of some entity of the federal government, typically the U.S. Department of Justice or some other agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

A typical large engagement for A2L Consulting would involve conducting several multi-panel mock trials that would help inform the development of litigation graphics, the jury selection, and the overall trial strategy. It would involve the development of litigation graphics for both sides of the case through the mock trial. It would also involve a full development of our side of the case, including the incorporation of storytelling techniques into the opening statement presentation. It would then involve a trial technician who would develop the database of video depositions and documentary evidence for instantaneous display.

This is not what a government entity hires A2L for.More typically a government engagement, whether local, state or federal, would involve a subset of one of our service areas. Instead of a large multi-panel mock trial, a focus group study or micro-mock is often used. Instead of a deep and protracted engagement with the development of litigation graphics over months, incorporating storytelling and opening statement practice sessions, often our engagements will be limited to either the development of an opening statement, practice sessions, or a consulting engagement to help incorporate storytelling techniques.

After all, some of the cases in which state and local governments are involved are high-priority matters, such as environmental cleanup, zoning, eminent domain, and employment cases, where millions of dollars may be at stake. We know that we can help clients like this, even though they may have a limited budget.

We've written before about how to save money when engaging litigation consultants. Sometimes, this involves asking the right questions. Sometimes, it involves understanding the most cost-effective ways to proceed. Sometimes, it involves communicating your budget to your litigation consulting firm, even if it is only $5,000, and asking what is possible. Something is always possible.

The articles below will help make you an expert in using litigation consultants in a cost-effective manner.

Other articles related to trial presentation services and cost saving tips from A2L include:

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Pricing, Advocacy Graphics

Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 4 - Don't Overlook Visual Persuasion

Posted by Ryan Flax on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 @ 10:20 AM

 

visual-persuasion-storytelling-for-lawyersby Ryan H. Flax
(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & General Counsel
A2L Consulting

In our last post in this series, we explained why storytelling is the key to gaining and keeping the attention of any decision maker and thus the key to winning before trial.

How does one develop an effective story? Here are the rules of thumb.  

First, the simpler the story, the better, and the simpler the language, the better. Use metaphors involving sensory descriptions. Reduce the facts to a relatable story, and use “word pictures.”

The complete package of storytelling is not just an oral telling of a story; it also involves necessary visual persuasion.

Studies show that at least 60 percent of people learn primarily by seeing. They are visual learners. 

The majority of attorneys, however, are auditory and kinesthetic learners, which means that attorneys typically learn by hearing and/or experiencing something.  When you think about it, this makes sense because lawyers learn this way in law school lectures, and they continue to do so as practicing attorneys by experiencing litigation. However, most people do most of their “learning” watching television or surfing the Internet.

The problem is that most people usually feel more comfortable teaching the way that they prefer to learn. So most lawyers will teach and argue to the decision-makers and will attempt to persuade them by giving a lecture. That is not what most jurors want and is not suitable to most jurors’ style. While judges are even less likely to be visual learners than jurors, many still are visual or kinesthetic learners.

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You can’t just dump information on your jury or judge audience. You have to connect with them. You have to present information in an effective way. How do you bridge that communications gap? The way to do that is by using effective demonstrative exhibits. This way, you will be able to teach and argue, using your comfort zone, but the graphics will provide the judge or jurors with what they need to understand what you’re saying. This gives them a chance to agree with you. This effort should begin in your earliest filings and hearings.

Two researchers recently tested the effect of graphics on jurors. In two different studies, each with four groups of jurors, the researchers looked at the persuasiveness and impact of opening statements in an employment discrimination case. One group of jurors saw no graphics, one group saw graphics with the plaintiff’s opening statement, and one group saw graphics with both opening statements. This was done twice, making a total of eight groups and more than 500 jurors.

The results showed that not only did the use of graphics make an argument stronger, but it actually made jurors feel that the attorney using them was more competent, more credible, and probably more likable. The jurors retained the information better – and the result was better verdicts for the graphics users. When the plaintiff used demonstrative graphics, for example, the defendant was seen as more liable for damages. When the defendant used graphics, the defendant was considered less liable.

So what is the lesson of this study? It is that demonstrative graphics are essentially a mandatory component of any litigation - both during trial and before trial . If you’re not using them and your opposing counsel is using them, you’re in a heap of trouble.

In our next post, we will look at what kind of graphics work – and what kind of graphics don’t work.   Click here to be notified of subsequent articles.

Other articles and resources related to trial preparation, storytelling for lawyers and persuasion from A2L Consulting:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Demonstrative Evidence, Advocacy Graphics, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion

12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, May 1, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

litigation-graphics-complicated-trial-graphicsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting
 
If the creation of litigation graphics were as simple as some people make it out to be, you would never need a litigation graphics consultant. Yet litigation graphics consultants of varying skill levels are everywhere these days. Clearly, there is a need for them. But why? What value do litigation graphics consultants add? It’s a fair question, and here are 12 good answers.
 
1. Contrary to what some think, litigation graphics are more than electronic versions of printed documents: Many litigators make the mistake of thinking they are fully utilizing litigation graphics when they hire a trial technician who does nothing more than show documents on screen. See Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics
 
2. Real litigation graphics consultants are storytelling experts, not PowerPoint experts: The technology isn’t what matters. As with lawyers, there are wildly differing levels of talent and education among litigation graphics consultants. The very best, like those on the A2L team, are true experts in helping to craft a story using visuals. These experts add value, not just slides. See Patent Litigation Graphics + Storytelling Proven Effective: The Apple v. Samsung Jury Speaks and $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation
 
3. Litigation graphics consultants provide the creativity that your trial team may not have. When it comes to litigation graphics, our customer surveys tell us that it is our creativity that is valued most by our clients. See Working in Parallel vs. Series with Trial Presentation Consultants
 
4. Your time is too valuable. You need to focus on the “law track,” which is what lawyers are best at. You must consider the order of how you will present your case, how to develop an evidentiary record and how to prepare your witnesses. Allow litigation graphics experts to do the heavy lifting in the persuasion area. See Planning For Courtroom Persuasion? Use a Two-Track Trial Strategy and How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?
 
5. We have dozens of psychological tricks for influencing people with pictures. We have written about some of these: See Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias and Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?
 
6. We have a kind of magic that you don’t have in your law firm. Even if you have some graphics people in your firm, there is no one in your law firm who can do the kind of work illustrated here: 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint. Although there are rare exceptions, artists within law firms are usually either not the best or are on their way to working somewhere else: 13 Reasons Law Firm Litigation Graphics Departments Have Bad Luck
 
7. We understand the psychology of a jury and how you can use psychology to your advantage. We also know how you can hurt your case when you use litigation graphics the wrong way. For us, this is second nature. For litigators, this is not common sense at all: See Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors and 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations
 
8. We can help you spot dirty tricks by the opposition. There are many subterfuges in litigation graphics consulting, and you will mostly likely overlook them but you shouldn't. Many of the tricks are objectionable and offer an opportunity for you to score points with judge and jury by pointing them out, but you have to see them. See 5 Demonstrative Evidence Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For
 
9. Your colleagues are doing litigation graphics all wrong. They're good people I'm sure, and we know they are smart too. However, the normal instinctive way to use PowerPoint (bullets, text, reading slides) is precisely the wrong way. Unfortunately, that's what we see most often. See 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) and The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make
 
10. We spend a lot more time in courtrooms than you do. The same trial lawyers who used to go to trial every year 10 or 20 years ago, now often go to trial only every three, five, or even seven years. In stark contrast, our team may go to trial 50 or even 100 times every year. Common sense should tell you to trust what we have to say about how visuals will land with a judge and jury. See With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?
 
11. Whenever a well-educated fresh pair of eyes works on your case with you, you will find something incredibly valuable about it. See 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant and How I Used Litigation Graphics as a Litigator and How You Could Too
 
12. Anyone can make a PowerPoint, but only an experienced trial consulting team like A2L can make a PowerPoint that is convincing.

Other articles and resources related to litigation graphics, trial graphics and demonstrative evidence consultants from A2L Consulting: 

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Demonstrative Evidence, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion

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Authors

KenLopez resized 152

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-headshot-500x500.jpg 

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.


dr laurie kuslansky jury consultant a2l consulting







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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