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The Litigation Consulting Report

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

[Survey] What Webinar Topic Would You Like Us to Cover Next?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 @ 04:00 PM


free-litigation-webinar-a2l-consultingby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

A2L Consulting offered its first free litigation webinar just 18 months ago. Since then we've conducted six litigation focused webinars, all free, including:

These webinars may be viewed on our site anytime, and they have been viewed nearly 10,000 times already. I find that amazing.

Since each new webinar is a bit more popular than the one that came before it, it's a bit hard to tell which topics are really the most popular. So, I thought it would be helpful to ask our 6,500 blog readers what topic we should cover in our next webinar (likely May or June). Finding a good webinar presenter will not be difficult. On the A2L team, we have expert jury consultants, trial-tested litigators, experts in persuasion science, the top consultants in visual persuasion and many categories of litigation and persuasion experts. 

By looking at our web traffic and the searches used to find A2L Consulting or free information in the 400+ free articles we provide on our site, we can get a good idea of what is interesting to our audience. In the one-question survey below, I have included the top-ten topics our visitors look for plus a write-in option.

Please choose one of the ten topics below or write in a new topic, and we will develop our next webinar around the topic our audience favors most. When you answer the question, you'll be able to see the results tallied so far. Thank you for being a subscriber!

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Jury Consultants, Animation, Jury Selection, Bullet Points

Why Expensive-Looking Litigation Graphics Are Better

Posted by Ryan Flax on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:37 AM

by Ryan H. Flax
(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

placebo-effect-juries-litigation-graphics-expensive-price-costI am not advocating that you spend more to develop top-notch demonstrative evidence. What I want you to do is make sure that the litigation graphics that you do use look like you paid a million bucks for them. Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Let me explain why.

Recently published and widely reported research out of the University of Cincinnati relating to treating Parkinson’s disease shows that the placebo effect is a real thing and a powerful psychological phenomenon. Interestingly, what the study also shows is that it matters greatly to those experiencing a strong placebo effect how much they believed the pseudo-pharmaceutical cost. Amazingly, seemingly-more-expensive drugs turned out to be much better “drugs” in effect (even though they were not drugs at all). The more a patient believed a drug cost (here the artificial difference was $100 vs $1,500 per dose), the more effective it was at treating their symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Perception of cost was capable of influencing physical and psychological behavior and responses on a subconscious level. Wow.

Knowing this new and interesting bit of science, how can we use it to be more persuasive in litigation, ADR, or similar situations? An easy step is making it appear that your demonstrative evidence, e.g., trial graphics, were very expensive. This is easy – just make your graphics, boards, scale models, etc., look fantastic: creative, well designed, well composed, simple, beautiful, and well-targeted to their specific purpose.

cost-perception-persuasion-placebo-effect-juries-litigation-graphics-expensive-priceI became aware of the above-identified research while driving to the office and listening to NPR’s Morning Edition. The show very briefly discussed the research and it really struck a chord with me because just the day before I’d been in a client’s patent claim construction (Markman) hearing at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and had the opportunity to compare our supporting graphics to those of opposing counsel. I know ours satisfied the requirements for looking very expensive (see above). The opposition’s, on the other hand, while arguably supportive of their argument, and were rudimentary and just plain ugly.

cost-perception-persuasion-placebo-effect-juries-litigation-graphics-expensive-price-uglyWhat makes litigation graphics ugly? Not paying attention to style, lack of client and/or case branding (must be subtle though), inconsistency in color/font size/font type, lack of composition, use of improper font for electronic display, poor slide aspect ratio choice, too much text, too small text, use of bullet-point lists, use of PowerPoint effects for no good reason, and many other things. Basically, if slides look like anyone could make them, they’re not worth the effort or cost. Litigation graphics must look intentional, beautiful, and purposeful. They should look like they cost a lot (but they don’t, really).

I am confident that there was no significant difference in how much either set of Markman hearing PowerPoint slides cost, ours versus theirs. But I witnessed a huge difference in the way the Court received each side’s counsel at oral argument and the general momentum throughout the hearing. It all went our way. The arguments on our side were better, no doubt, but I believe the “high-priced-placebo” effect also played an important role. Our more appealing, more professional-looking, higher-design, more focused graphics enhanced the entire experience for the judge and resulted in better rapport and a lot more nodding at and softball questions for our attorney.

Don’t pay more. But, make sure you get more.

Other articles from A2L Consulting related to litigation graphics, pricing of litigation support services and getting good value from your litigation graphics provider:

Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Pricing, Psychology, PowerPoint, Visual Persuasion, Trial Boards, Information Design

Why Trial Graphics are an Essential Persuasion Tool for Litigators

Posted by Ryan Flax on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 @ 10:45 AM


trial graphics oral visual lawyer litigator courtroomby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

As I pointed out in my last post, the oral telling of a story must be accompanied by visuals if it is to be fully effective. Studies show that most (reportedly as high as 61-65%) of the public prefers to learn by seeing and watching. The majority of attorneys, on the other hand, do not prefer to learn this way but are auditory and kinesthetic learners: They typically learn by hearing and/or experiencing something.

This makes sense, when you think about it: We all learn this way in law school in class lectures, and we continue to learn this way as practicing attorneys by experiencing litigation. However, most people (e.g., jurors) do most of their “learning” watching television or surfing the internet.

I believe that these learning preferences are solidly based in evolution. Humans evolved from animals that had to rely on visual learning because, socially, there was a lot more to see and less ability to orally explain things to one another. Our ancestors saw what foods to collect and eat, they saw their neighbors catch a fish, they saw their father hide from a carnivore, and they learned how to live and survive to reproduce, and this visual learning style was evolutionally reinforced. I think that, unless a human is forced into a situation where he or she must hone the ability to learn by hearing a lecture, he or she will more easily learn by seeing something and relying on a person’s much stronger visual capabilities.

No matter how intelligent a person is, he or she will typically teach the same way that he or she prefers to learn. Visual learners teach by illustrating. Auditory learners teach by explaining. So, left to our own devices, we attorneys will usually teach by giving a lecture. However, there is a big problem with this in a courtroom.

Chances are that most of our jurors are visual learners, and if we try to teach them in the way most comfortable us, by giving a lecture, we’re not being as persuasive as we could be. The jurors simply will not get our points or case as well as they could.

How do you bridge the communications gap? By storytelling, as discussed in this series of articles, and with effective trial graphics. This will enable you to teach and argue from your comfort zone - by lecturing - but the trial graphics will provide the jurors what they need to really understand (or feel they understand) what you’re saying and give them a chance to agree with you. 

Research shows that visual support is an essential persuasion tool in litigation. By conducting two different studies, each having four groups of jurors (totaling about 500 subjects), researchers tested the persuasiveness and impact of opening statements in an employment discrimination case. One group of jurors saw no graphics, one group saw graphics with plaintiff’s opening, one group saw graphics with defendant’s opening, and one group saw graphics with each opening. This was done twice, for four eight total groups.

The results of this testing established not only that graphics make an argument stronger; it 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 improved verdicts for the graphics users. When plaintiff used demonstrative graphics, the defendant was seen as more liable. When the defendant used graphics, it was seen as less liable in the jurors’ eyes.

Another study by a litigation and jury consultant, Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, investigated the effectiveness of various communication techniques, specifically as they relate to jurors.

Interestingly, this study found that there really wasn’t much difference in effectiveness when comparing techniques using:

  • no trial graphics,
  • simple flipcharts,
  • static and sporadically shown trial graphics, and
  • animated and sporadically shown trial graphics. 

This result was surprising to Broda-Bahm, and to me reading his published work. However, his study went further and found that when the “jurors” were immersed in graphics, meaning that the attorney always gave them something to see while presenting his argument, the effectiveness and persuasiveness of the presentation dramatically increased.

The bottom line is that you must use visual support to accompany your trial argument and testimony. This can take many forms, such as trial graphics, scale models, poster boards, and electronic display of evidence. Furthermore, the presentation of visual support during litigation must be an immersive experience for the jurors. So unless there is a very good reason to turn off the visual display to have the jurors focus on your face, you should be giving them something to look at.

Other trial graphics related articles and resources on A2L Consulting's site:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Psychology, Storytelling, Visual Persuasion

7 Reasons Litigation Graphics Consultants are Essential Even When Clients Have In-House Expertise

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 @ 05:00 PM


litigation graphics consultants understandable clear storytellingby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

I frequently encounter trial teams that say things like:

  • "My client has some graphics capabilities in-house."
  • "Our client is a top expert in the field, so they want to explain the technology to the jury in their own way."
  • "My client wants to stand up at trial and use a flip chart to explain the science."

I hear these and other similar statements most frequently in patent cases and other science or technology-focused cases. On their face, there's nothing wrong with these remarks. However, sometimes the client's desire to be helpful interferes with the trial team's ability to try the case effectively. I empathize with these litigators. Nobody likes to say "no" to a client, especially when the desire to be helpful is partially motivated by budget concerns.

When I founded A2L nearly twenty years ago, the only meaningful competition we had in the litigation graphics and courtroom animation industries came from engineering firms who also supported trial teams. A2L's offering was very different. We brought artistic lawyers and litigators in to serve as litigation graphics consultants rather than using engineers.

My rationale was simple. Engineers may be very good at illustrating a point, but they are not especially good at persuasively making a point. For that, lawyers were best suited, and they could also rely on engineering, scientific or technical support from the client and experts as needed. Our model became synonymous with what we now commonly refer to as "litigation consulting."

It didn't take too many years before our competition morphed to look at lot like A2L, and those engineering firms eventually faded away. I believe the same principles apply when evaluating how or whether to use litigation graphics consultants when the ultimate client has significant internal expertise, even artistic expertise, in-house.

Just like those engineering firms A2L used to compete with, when support is offered by in-house resources at the client's firm, it is typically highly expert, highly trained and is useful for facilitating the illustration of a point in the courtroom. However, such in-house expertise, mostly scientists, engineers and technology experts, is not normally persuasion-oriented, and this group is almost always unfamiliar with what a fact-finder needs to see in order to find for the client.

In these situations, instead of an ideal client>litigator>expert>litigation graphics consultants>fact-finder flow of information, you end up with a highly imperfect client>expert>litigator>client>fact-finder flow that results in higher costs and worse outcomes. Here are seven reasons I think a trial team needs help from outside litigation graphics consultants no matter what kind of expertise the client's in-house people can provide.

  1. Well-founded discovery fears: Anytime the client is involved in trial presentation preparations, there is a risk that they will inadvertently generate new evidence that is subject to discovery. Since litigation graphics consultants are working for the law firm, these communications are protected from discovery.

  2. Storytelling assistance: With storytelling recognized as a serious persuasion tool, it is very helpful to work with litigation graphics consultants like A2L and others who are expert in helping trial teams craft a story. See 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant. No matter how expert a client is in the underlying subject matter of a case, they are not likely also presentation experts, persuasion experts or storytelling experts.

  3. Fresh set of eyes: This cliché is one of the primary reasons trial teams use litigation graphics consultants at all. When you've lived with something for a long time as a trial team does and as in-house personnel at the client do everyday, it helps to hear how experts like trained litigation graphics consultants approach the same information.

  4. A forest perspective: Closely related to the fresh pair of eyes concept, a litigation graphics consultant is not burdened with all the details when a case is presented to them. Accordingly, they are able to hear it in a way that is similar to the way a juror will. Usually, neither a trial team nor any one from the client is able to step back far enough to get out of the trees and really see the forest in the same way a jury will.

  5. Mock trial testing: Firms like A2L are not just litigation graphics consultants, but are instead full-service litigation consulting firms. One key component of a comprehensive litigation consulting firm is the ability to conduct mock trials and provide mock trial analysis of the effort by a Ph.d.-level expert. Obviously, this is not going to be an expertise offered by the client's in-house team. Testing of how a judge or jury will react to a case is critical in large cases as are testing the visuals that will be used. See 7 Reasons In-House Counsel Should Want a Mock Trial and 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said.

  6. Persuasion science is moving fast: Great litigation graphics consultants are experts in the science of persuasion. I suspect this group of people numbers fewer than a couple of dozen people nationwide. Since your goal at trial is to persuade the fact-finders, you really want every persuasion advantage you can find. It is not realistic to expect that you will find this expertise at the client firm or even inside most law firms for that matter. See Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations5 Ways to Apply Active Teaching Methods for Better Persuasion, and 8 Videos and 7 Articles About the Science of Courtroom Persuasion.

  7. Masters of PowerPoint: A litigation graphics consulting firm can run circles around mere PowerPoint users as one of our most popular articles, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint, and one of our most popular webinars, Using PowerPoint Litigation Graphics for the Win, demonstrate. This kind of work takes real time to develop. Just because a client can generate some imagery does not mean it can generate persuasive imagery or put it together in a way that is going to align with the decisions we're asking our fact-finders to make. At the end of the day, it is not about pictures, it is about presentation, and those two things are entirely different (if you're an expert).

Other articles and resources related to using litigation graphics consultants on A2L Consulting's site:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Storytelling

16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 @ 01:35 PM

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants providersby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Litigators do not need to know how to create advanced PowerPoint litigation graphics. However, litigators do need to understand what a skilled artist is capable of producing using the program. Most will be surprised to learn what's possible, and even veteran users of PowerPoint will think there's an element of magic in some of the presentations shared in this article.

As a litigation graphics consultant who has been using PowerPoint since the 1990s, even I am amazed by the litigation graphics some artists are able to create using PowerPoint. Using real artistic skill combined with PowerPoint's built-in features unleashes impressive creative potential. What used to require 2D and even 3D animation just five years ago can now often be produced within PowerPoint faster and with a fraction of the investment that used to be required. Then, best of all, everything created is available for a litigator or their trial technician to present right from PowerPoint without any additional software or fancy hardware. In many cases, it can even be presented right from an iPad.

Too often, people view PowerPoint as a program that helps someone put their speaking outline, usually in bullet-point form, in visual form on a series of slides. We have long counseled that the use of bullet point riddled slides hurts your trial presentation, especially when one reads bullet points. Fortunately, most litigators are changing with the times and paying attention to the good science that shuns the use of bullets.

We have written before about combining illustration with PowerPoint animation to achieve great results and the four types of animation one typically sees at trial. The purpose of this article is to help you understand how far you can stretch PowerPoint. It's not the right tool for every situation, however when used the right way and in the right hands, it is a powerful weapon of advocacy.

Below are 16 PowerPoint litigation graphics presentations (all converted into movies for easy online viewing) that most will be surprised to learn were created in PowerPoint by artists at A2L. We'd certainly welcome questions about how we created these graphics, and we would absolutely love to hear from artists who can do this kind of work well.

1. This PowerPoint litigation graphic prepared for a recent antitrust trial is really a timeline in an unusual format. To emphasize how difficult it is to run an airline in the United States, a long list of bankruptcies is set to scroll like movie credits in PowerPoint. Interested in more timeline examples, download our timeline book (opens in new window).


2. This PowerPoint litigation graphic was used by an expert in a patent case to explain how the design of a ship's hull affected its performance. Interested in patent litigation graphics, download our patent litigation toolkit for litigators (opens in new window).


3. This clever PowerPoint makes good use of motion path animation and illustration to explain video playback patented technology. The use of "tags" helps explain the concept of keyframing in video encoding and playback in a jury-friendly way.


storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar


4. PowerPoint can even be used to show deposition clips. If you have more than a handful of deposition clips, you would probably want to use Trial Director to show them, but for a limited number or a group of short clips, PowerPoint does a good job.


5. This A2L PowerPoint litigation graphic, explaining how hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) works, has been viewed more than 180,000 times on YouTube. The use of dials and animation of the drill head are not what you would normally expect from PowerPoint (link set to start video at 1:27). The voiceover audio is embedded into the PowerPoint.


6. This simple traffic cop animation explains the roll of an operating system in an easy-to-understand format. By using illustrations combined with animation in a PowerPoint litigation graphic where small parts are varied, an animated or cartoon effect is achieved within PowerPoint.


7. In a very simple way, this chart uses PowerPoint to show how Fahrenheit and Celsius scales compare to one another. Like many of the examples in this article, it's surprising that the graphic was created in PowerPoint.


8. This chart shows how a phone dialing system works and is designed for a judge's viewing in a claim construction setting rather than jury viewing during trial. Again, it is animated and presented entirely in PowerPoint.


patent litigation demonstrative evidence

9. Even a surgical procedure can be shown using a combination of illustration and PowerPoint animation techniques. Such work can make courtroom animation economically feasible in even small cases.


10. Here, to help demonstrate that a doctor was reading films too quickly to maintain an appropriate standard of care, an analogy to speeding is created in PowerPoint.


11. For a claim construction hearing, this PowerPoint was created to show how a drug delivery system works in a hospital environment. Claim language is shown in conjunction with the PowerPoint litigation graphic to give it context and meaning. I think it is a smart use of animated graphics juxtaposed with claim language.


12. Here, the removal of a nuclear power plaint reactor pressure vessel is shown. By creating illustrations that are shown in quick succession, the effect of animation is achieved in PowerPoint without having to go through the expense and complications of creating an animation.


13. Using PowerPoint's native interactive features, one can create hot-spots on a graphic that show a document or another image. This means that images do not need to be shown in linear order. This becomes useful when one wants to use a timeline built in PowerPoint and still have the flexibility to jump around to other documents. Interested in more timeline examples, download our timeline book (opens in new window).


14. Explaining complicated patent terms with PowerPoint litigation graphics becomes much easier when coupled with a straight-forward analogy like the one shown here. Simply a local bus and remote bus (computer communication systems that move data between components) bear similarities to traffic patterns that are easy for a jury to understand. Interested in patent litigation graphics,download our patent litigation toolkit for litigators (opens in new window).


15. Making heavy use of illustration, this PowerPoint serves as a timeline that explains how a worker was electrocuted on a job site and went undiscovered for some time.


16. Finally, here is an example of how one might use the interactive features of PowerPoint to tell a complicated story in a mortgage-backed securities case. The user is free to click on any of the state icons to view developments in other locations in any order they choose.


Using PowerPoint litigation graphics will solve many trial challenges, however one needs to know when to use PowerPoint, Flash, a physical model, a trial board or a more sophisticated 3D animation program. To make that judgment, ask your litigation graphics consultants or contact A2L.

Articles related and resources to PowerPoint litigation graphics on A2L Consulting's site:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Tags: Patent Tutorial, Markman Hearings, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Patent Litigation, PowerPoint, Claim Construction, Information Design

16 Litigation Graphics Lessons for Mid-Sized Law Firms

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 @ 10:49 AM


litigation graphics mid size law firmby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Part 1 of a four-part series on the rise of the midsize law firm in litigation. Parts 1,2,3,4.

I have written about the "new normal" of the legal economy and have even published an ebook focused on pricing strategies and alternative fee arrangements, all part of a trend toward value that major corporations are receiving from their law firms. One other trend that I’ve noticed is that a lot more midsized law firms are now handed big cases to try. It's interesting to watch, since seeing how a midsized firm handles the case feels a lot like 1995 again.

In the 1990s, large law firms were just waking up to the idea of using litigation graphics at trial. It's hard to believe that back then, I spent most of my time convincing this pre-Internet generation that juries wanted to see visuals.

By 1998 or so, A2L Consulting (then Animators at Law) had its first billion-dollar win in part because of the effective use of printed trial boards. That was the same year that we started referring to our work as litigation consulting. Now, almost every case handled by a large firm uses litigation consulting in some form.

Over the past three decades, law firms have figured out that litigation best practices include the extensive use of visual aids, the regular use of a trial technician to manage electronic evidence at trial, and the value of conducting one or more mock exercises. Each of these practice areas has developed in response to specific problems that exist in bench and jury trials alike, and there is an art and science (and about a $250 million industry) that exists around litigation consulting.

storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar

So, as more large litigation is pushed into midsize firms as a cost containment measure, I notice something interesting. Most midsized firms just don't know how to use litigation consultants, and what might look like cost savings is going to yield troublesome results later. After all, we figured all of these problems out once in the 1990s, and an industry exists to provide solutions.

So in the spirit of offering the midsized firm, or frankly any firm that is not an AmLaw 50 firm, a solid primer on what's been learned these past 20 years, I offer the following 16 lessons:

1. Using Litigation Graphics Yields Better Results: It's beyond "broad scientific consensus," it's just a fact, Litigation graphics provide better results. This recent 2013 study on the effect of visual evidence on juries [PDF] does a good job of summarizing the science of litigation graphics.

2. Litigators are Generally Not Well-Suited to Do Their Own Graphics: We wrote about this some time ago in a commonsense article called Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer)

3. In-House Graphics Departments Mostly Don't Work: In general, firms do not go to trial enough to give in-house departments real trial experience. This article goes into some detail about in-house graphics litigation departments not working well.

4. Bullet Point Slides Will Hurt Your Case: We write about this often, because it is a big problem that is easily avoided. This is our seminal article on the topic of bullet points, but there are many others.

5. At least 2/3 of your jury will learn visually: A study we conducted in 2003 revealed that about two-thirds of the general public learns visually. It is available as a free download here.

6. Lawyers and Jurors Communicate Differently: The same study revealed something revolutionary too. Lawyers and juries tend to communicate differently. Juries want to see while lawyers prefer to speak.

7. Litigation Graphics Consultants Improve Your Perspective: I've heard it from hundreds of litigators at big firms that one of the things they most appreciate is the fresh pair of eyes that a litigation graphics consultant brings.

8. Showing Your Documents is Not Using Litigation Graphics: We often hear from smaller firms that they have their graphics needs covered because they have someone running their Trial Director database at trial. Actually there is very little overlap between the work talented litigation graphics consultants do and what a trial technician does at trial. In legal terms, generally, litigation graphics people handle demonstrative evidence while trial technicians handle real evidence. You need both to be successful.

9. Skilled Litigation Artists Can Make PowerPoint Do Things You Would Think are Impossible: PowerPoint is a surprisingly powerful tool. In the hands of a skilled consultant, real demonstrative evidence magic is possible.

10. No, your neighbor's son is not well-suited to make your graphics: We spend years taking a great artist and making them a great litigation graphic artist. The two do not automatically go together. In litigation, the goal is persuasion and simplicity.

11. Mixing your presentation forms is critical: I'm not sure this has been extensively studied yet, but I know it's true from my experience. The more you can mix up your presentation mediums at trial, the more you can keep at jury's interest. So, use scale models and use a trial board in addition to PowerPoint to surprise your jury.

12. You Can Actually Learn Big Law Firm Techniques from Your Litigation Graphics Firm: In most cases, a litigation graphics firm will have experienced more trials than nearly any large law firm. That’s just the way it is. Ask them what works.

13. Practice is key: There really is not enough practicing going on in the practice of law. Most people are not normally using visual aids while they are communicating. So, you need to practice this work to make it look natural and not distracting. See 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation.

14. Budget for Litigation Graphics at the Beginning: If I were in an in-house position, I would hope to see my outside firm budget $50,000 for litigation graphics work. It might take more or less, but not including this line item in a litigation budget seems unsophisticated at best. Here are some articles on what to expect cost-wise for litigation graphics or animation and even how best to structure alternative fee arrangements with your litigation graphics consultants.

15. Trial is Not the Only Place to Use Graphics: Graphics are showing up in briefs pretty regularly. They are of course used in hearings. Here are 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not).

16. There are Very Few Top Notch Litigation Graphics Firms: We are a very small industry. There really are just a small handful of firms that you can trust and rely upon. Get to know them and don't be afraid to work outside of your local area as this is easy remote work. In all likelihood, the best firm for you is not down the street.

Parts 1,2,3,4. 

Other articles related to litigation graphics on A2L Consulting's site:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Animation, Scale Models, Alternative Fee Arrangements

Free E-Book Download: How to Build Persuasive Visual Presentations

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 @ 11:33 AM


how to persuade visually persuasion ebookby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

In the last 15 years, businesspeople are increasingly being called upon to persuade visually. Whether it is a corporate PowerPoint, a political infographic or even a well-formatted Excel spreadsheet, visual persuasion is now part of what we are all expected to do — just like writing a business letter or running a meeting.

A2L is well known for its work developing persuasive presentations for the courtroom. However, for the past 18 years, A2L has quietly been helping non-lawyers and lawyers presenting outside the courtroom to develop stunning and persuasive presentations. These projects have included supporting the energy and aviation industries in their lobbying efforts, creating marketing designs for large Internet firms, developing pitch presentations for our legal clientele, creating animations for non-courtroom use and even developing high-profile web sites.

We have learned and taught others a great deal about developing persuasive presentations. It is something that our firm does every single working day of the year. Indeed, it turns out that the same lessons that apply to lawyers hoping to persuade a jury apply just as well to other audiences who need to be persuaded - whether they are a prospective client, a skeptical neighborhood group or potential voters.

We have put together a new e-book entitled “How to Build Persuasive and Engaging Visual Presentations.” We think the book will be useful for anyone who is called upon make a visual presentation, be it simple or complex.

This book compiles lessons and best practices from our experiences over nearly two decades, together with other resources, many of them gleaned from the research of leading scholars who have studied how the human mind receives, processes and stores information.

Among the topics covered in this book are “Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You,” “6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations,” “Demonstrative Evidence Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For,” “In Trial Presentation a Camel is a Horse Designed by a Committee,” “12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad in Trial Graphics or Anywhere,” “Explaining a Complicated Process Using Trial Graphics,” “The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make,” “Information Design and Litigation Graphics,” “Teaching Science to a Jury: A Trial Consulting Challenge,” “Litigation Graphics: Psychology and Color Meaning,” and “Legal Animation: Learn About the Four Types Used in the Courtroom.”

I hope this book helps you develop effective, exciting and persuasive visual presentations. You can download this valuable new e-book here.

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, E-Book, Animation, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Bullet Points, Persuasive Graphics

What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 @ 03:20 PM


litigation animation cost courtroom consultantsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Our firm, A2L Consulting, is a national litigation consulting firm with a wide range of trial-focused services from jury consulting to mock trials to trial graphics to courtroom trial technology services. However, most people don't know that I founded A2L 18 years ago after I had taught myself computer animation while in law school.

To me, it made sense to try to fit these two subjects together. In retrospect it was quite smart. At the time, though, my friends and family looked at me with a somewhat perplexed gaze.

You see, animation was just emerging on the scene with movies like Jurassic Park and Toy Story. In the courtroom the first litigation animations were being used in a handful of cases in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Back then, people would quote animation costs at as high as $1,000 per finished second of animation. These numbers seem preposterous today, as production costs have plummeted and prices more along the lines of $1,000 per finished minute are not uncommon.

However not all litigation animations are created equal. Indeed there are many types and there is a flavor for every case and every budget.

In a previous article I described the types of litigation animation used typically in the courtroom. To summarize, they are PowerPoint animation, 2-D animation, and 3-D animation. There are several variants of 2-D animation, and one looks convincingly similar to 3-D animation.

There are a variety of tools used to produce animation from PowerPoint on a laptop to Flash on a desktop PC or to Maya on a workstation. Not only do the costs of hardware and software vary dramatically but the kind of people who produce these animations vary in their availability and demand.

Suffice it to say that PowerPoint animators are the most readily available and can work on the least expensive hardware-software combination. At the other end of the spectrum are 3-D animators. Good ones are few and far between, and they require high-end software and hardware and lots of experience to produce good work.

Not only is there variability in cost of production, but there is significant variability in the time required to produce a finished product. Some PowerPoint animations can be done in a few minutes and may be all you need for your case. Other 3-D animations may require weeks or months to develop a finished product for trial.

Below is a guideline for what a trial team should expect to pay for three types of typical litigation animation projects.

1. Five minutes of a PowerPoint animation-style exhibit with average complexity. For something along these lines, I would expect to invest between $5,000 and $15,000, with the variability explained by the amount of complexity and the amount of back-and-forth. Here is an example of project like this where video playback patents had to be explained at trial:

Below is an example of another PowerPoint-style animation used in an ITC case involving ground fault circuit interrupters.

2. Ten minutes of animation built from drawings or schematics
, perhaps of an environmental spill or plume, an architectural drawing or a bringing a patent drawing to life as we explained in this article. For this project, which likely requires more technical skill in the use of a product like Adobe After Effects or perhaps Flash, I would expect to invest between $10,000 and $35,000. Below is an animation of toner tubes from a patent case. The models were built from existing CAD technical drawings which sometimes saves considerable time and money on litigation animation costs.

Below is an example of 2-D animation used to explain how a power plant works and give a sense of its scale:

3. A 15-minute 3-D animation of a complex subject
like a highly technical patent, a structure collapse or perhaps a complex aviation accident. Assuming the animation was still considered demonstrative in nature rather than a simulation, which requires an entirely different level of complexity, I would expect to invest between $40,000 and $150,000 for this type of product. Below is an example of a 3-D animation used in a patent trial that resulted in the 6th largest verdict in patent litigation history:

Below is another 3-D animation used in a mediation for an environmental insurance coverage dispute:

In the 3-D litigation animation example below, the layout of a coal-fired power plant is explored:

Of course all of these costs are highly variable but they provide broad guidance for what to expect and how to look at your projects as you think about trial. Below are some additional materials related to animation for use at trial.

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Tags: Patent Tutorial, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Patent Litigation

George Zimmerman Trial: Use of Animation Evidence and Objections

Posted by Ryan Flax on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 @ 02:53 PM

george zimmerman animation courtroom trialby Ryan H. Flax
(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

It has just been reported that prosecution counsel in the criminal trial against George Zimmerman is objecting to the defense’s use of a computer animation depicting the scene of the fatal confrontation between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. It appears the defense wants to give the jurors some perspective on the scene and, perhaps, show why Zimmerman was justified in doing what he did.

Prosecutors object that the animation does not show the weapon Zimmerman used to kill Martin and “only approximates” the two men’s positions based on witness accounts. All things being equal, the prosecution bears some burden to keep this demonstrative evidence out. It will depend on how the defense actually intends to use the aid.

In Florida, it is within the discretion of the court to allow or disallow demonstrative aids in the courtroom. Chamberlain v. State, 881 So 2d 1087, 1102 (Fla. 2004). The Chamberlain court laid out the following considerations for the propriety of allowing demonstrative evidence: (1) potential to mislead or confuse the jury; (2) whether the demonstrative aid is to be admitted into evidence; (3) whether the proponent of the demonstrative aid will assert that it represents fact evidence; and (4) whether the witness advancing the demonstrative aid will be cross-examined on it. Taking these issues into consideration, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that it was OK to allow a demonstrative aid that “was similar” to an actual murder weapon, although larger and different in other ways, even though the actual murder weapon was also admitted as actual evidence.

See Articles & Example Animations

However, the Chamberlain court also stated,

Demonstrative evidence is admissible only when it is relevant to the issues in the case. . . . [I]t is essential, in every case where demonstrative evidence is offered, that the object or thing offered for the jury to see be first shown to be the object in issue and that it is in substantially the same condition as at the pertinent time, or that it is such a reasonably exact reproduction or replica of the object involved that when viewed by the jury it causes them to see substantially the same object as the original.

florida computer animation trial litigationSo, the Zimmerman court has a choice to make.  If the defense animation is not misleading, won’t be admitted into the record, is not asserted to show actual evidence, and will be advanced by a witness subject to cross-examination, it seems right to allow it.  On the other hand, if the animation is not a close enough reproduction of the actual scene of the confrontation and killing, the Court has all the reason it needs to disallow it.

This situation is a good opportunity for a reflective moment for all litigators seeking to make and use demonstrative evidence.  Demonstrative evidence, like any evidence, must be relevant and the proponent of demonstrative evidence can try to have the evidence admitted into the record or can choose to use the evidence as merely a prop.

If the evidence is marked as a full exhibit the jury may refer to the evidence during deliberations and in most jurisdictions the jury may examine the evidence during deliberations.  If the evidence is not marked as a full exhibit, the jury cannot do these things.  Whether or not a demonstrative exhibit is to be admitted on the record, there are some rules you should know when considering using any demonstrative exhibit (we’ll look at the federal rules for the sake of simplicity, but each state has its own).

Fed. R. Evid. 611(a) allows demonstrative exhibits, generally.  Fed. R. Evid. 403 is the gatekeeper rule for trial evidence. Do not make demonstrative exhibits prejudicial or confusing, but tailor them to be truthful and persuasive.  Fed. R. Evid. 901(a) requires that you back up your demonstrative exhibits with actual evidence; they cannot merely be your fantasy of best-case-scenario evidence. 

Courts have traditionally allowed summaries of extensive evidence, e.g., a chart or table reviewing a bunch of expert opinions, but now according to Fed. R. Evid. 1006 demonstrative evidence is treated similarly and is typically admissible as evidence with testimony.

Let’s stay tuned and see how it goes in the Zimmerman trial.


Related articles you may find valuable about computer animation, demonstrative evidence or the George Zimmerman trial:

complex civil litigation graphics free ebook guide download

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Criminal, George Zimmerman

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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 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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