Please join me in wishing all the authors of A2L's Litigation Consulting Report blog a Happy 8 Year Blogging Anniversary!
Please join me in wishing all the authors of A2L's Litigation Consulting Report blog a Happy 8 Year Blogging Anniversary!
It's my eighth year writing an end-of-year top-10 style article. That feels pretty great because in that time, we have published more than 600 articles and A2L's Litigation Consulting Report blog has been visited one million times. Wow, right?
Law360 is a top legal industry publisher owned by Lexis-Nexis. Its daily newsletters are a must-read for trial lawyers involved in big-ticket litigation. This interview, Trial Consultants Q&A: A2L Consulting's Ken Lopez, was originally published on April 28, 2017, and is reprinted here with permission. Links to A2L articles and resources have been added by A2L in this reprint. Q: What aspect of trial consulting do you and your firm specialize in? What is unique about your firm, compared to other trial consulting firms? A: Founded in 1995, our firm is a leading national litigation consulting firm that helps trial lawyers and other advocates more reliably win complex and high-dollar disputes. We are typically in trial year-round and deliver world-class client-pleasing results in three key service areas: jury research and consulting, litigation graphics consulting, and trial technology consulting. We have recently been voted #1 in each of these categories by major legal publications. The composition of our leadership distinguishes it from other trial consulting and litigation consultant firms. Unlike firms whose origins are rooted in the trial technology business, the engineering business or the marketing/public relations fields, our team is composed of experts in the persuasion sciences. These include former litigators from top law firms, attorney-artists and social science Ph.Ds with decades of experience working with judges and juries. We primarily serve AmLaw 100 law firms and their clients. However, the firm regularly works with boutique law firms and in-house departments. It counts amongst its clients nearly all top law firms and a large portion of the Fortune 500. Most people find A2L through its litigation and persuasion-focused blog, The Litigation Consulting Report. It has nearly 10,000 subscribers and was named one of the top ten blogs in litigation by the American Bar Association. Q: What was the most interesting or memorable case that you worked on? A: The average case at A2L Consulting is a business dispute between global companies with $100 million at stake where we provide jury consulting, a mock trial, litigation graphics, and courtroom hot-seat trial technology support. One of our most memorable cases was entirely — not average. Through a top trial lawyer, we were hired to work on behalf of a surviving family member of the 1996 crash of ValuJet Flight 592 in the Everglades. This was not a plane that exploded or quickly crashed. Instead, oxygen containers in the cargo area helped fuel a fire that caused smoke to fill the plane. Then, the oxygen-fueled fire burned through the passenger cabin floor from below. After some time, controls on the plane were destroyed by the fire. Then, the plane flipped and dove into the Everglades below. No one survived. It took a long time for the tragedy to unfold and the passengers had awareness of what was happened. We know this because the plane was equipped with recording devices in both the cockpit and the passenger cabin. The recording is confidential, but none of us who worked on this case will ever forget what we heard on that recording. To help the jury visualize the experience the passengers had, we could have created a 3-D animation to show what the experience inside of the cabin was like. Instead, we synced that chilling audio with an animation we created that helped tell the tragic story. Once the animation was admitted into evidence, the case quickly settled. Q: Which stage of the trial process is the most challenging, and why? A: While we support all phases of litigation from prefiling to appeal, our firm most often focuses its consulting efforts on the opening statement. Indeed, we speak and write about opening statements often. Perhaps second only to jury selection, the opening statement can make or break an entire case. It provides the framework and narrative upon which the judge or jury will hear the evidence. For many, consciously or subconsciously, the decision about the outcome of the case will be made during opening statement. Because the opening statement is so critical, the best trial lawyers expend enormous amounts of effort preparing for openings. I’ve seen some trial lawyers practice their opening more than 100 times over the course of a year. Not surprisingly, these trial lawyers tend to win their cases. In every type of litigation consulting we provide, the opening statement is a central focus. When we conduct a mock trial, the attorneys present their openings to mock jurors or mock judges. When our senior litigation consultants work with top trial lawyers to refine their trial presentation, we ask them to present their openings as part of that process. When we design a PowerPoint presentation for opening, we ask our clients to do run-throughs of openings. When we introduce one of our trial technicians/hot-seat operators to a trial team, we ask the first chair to practice opening statements so they develop a rapport with the trial tech. Indeed, sometimes, we are asked to draft an opening statement as part of our litigation consulting effort. Opening statements are the most challenging part of the trial process because they should be. Cases are regularly won and lost because of them. Q: How has trial consulting evolved over time? What major differences are there between the industry when you started and the industry now? A: Our firm, now a national litigation consulting firm with jury consulting, litigation graphics consulting and trial technology consulting practices all voted #1 by the legal industry, was started as Animators at Law, an animation and litigation graphics firm for trial lawyers focused on persuasion. Back in the mid-1990s when we started our firm, the idea of using demonstrative evidence/litigation graphics during a trial was new. Today, no serious trial lawyer would go to trial in big-ticket litigation without litigation graphics and nearly all would hire a litigation graphics consulting firm like ours. When we started our firm, PowerPoint did not exist. Most litigation graphics were printed trial boards. Today, trial boards are used as unique emphasis tools that supplement a PowerPoint trial presentation. The practice of jury research has changed too. It has evolved from a guru-dominated practice where gut instinct drove many decisions. Today, there is more scientific rigor among top jury research firms. They let the data speak for itself and supplement that data with advice based on experience. Of course, the trial technology practice has radically changed. In the 1990s, it barely existed. Now, the complexity of cases demands that an experienced trial technician/hot-seat operator run the technology, show the trial presentation and be ready to pull up evidence on a moment’s notice. Q: What are some of the biggest challenges when working with attorneys and their clients? A: One of my colleagues likes to say, “they call it the practice of law, but nobody is practicing.” I agree wholeheartedly. If I could change one thing about the way trial lawyers prepare for trial, it would be the way they practice. The correlation between open practice in front of peers and winning cases is unmistakable. Half of the time, trial lawyers practice extensively and seek feedback from litigation consultants and colleagues. These lawyers tend to win their cases. When we see a trial lawyer who wants to privately prepare their trial presentation on the eve of trial, we worry. It’s not that this approach can’t work. It often does. Instead, we simply recognize that the more a trial team openly practices, the more often that trial team wins.
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting As the first quarter of 2017 comes to an end, I have had the occasion to reflect on the origins and the success of the online publication that you are reading, The Litigation Consulting Report. In six years, I've watched as this publication grew from nothing at all to a subscription list that includes more than 9,000 members of the legal community (here's a free subscription link: http://a2.lc/trialtips). I am pleased and amazed to see that there are more than 300,000 visits to this blog annually. Periodically, we try to help organize the articles we publish by highlighting those "voted" best by your readership. By “voted,” I mean the articles that readers choose by reading them the most often. Readers “vote” with their computers, tablets and phones. Some articles are read thousands of times per day, and I find that remarkable. I want to highlight the top 10 articles from this quarter, in order, with the one marked as #1 being the most read article published this quarter. Interestingly, while the subjects of these articles range across various areas of our litigation consulting practice, those focused on storytelling in litigation are consistently at the top of our quarterly lists. Although we are not the only people who talk about storytelling as a fundamental element of persuasion at trial, we have been doing so for a long time, and we have marshaled scientific evidence in support of our conclusions. Please use the social sharing buttons to tweet out articles or share on your LinkedIn account: 10. Using Litigation Graphics in Bench Trials: How Different Is It From Jury Trials? 9. Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points? 8. How to Get Great Results From a Good Lawyer 7. The Key Elements of a Good Narrative at Trial or Anywhere Else 6. 2017 Will be a Great Year for (Most Types of) Trials 5. 3 Excellent Ways to Use Top-Bottom Timelines in Trial 4. NITA Experts Agree: Jurors Want Lawyers to Show, Not Tell 3. The Value of Storytelling: A Current Case in Point 2. 7 Habits of Great Trial Teams 1. Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting In the first quarter of 2016, A2L Consulting reported record amounts of business and web traffic. Well, those numbers have only continued to climb throughout the second and third quarters of this year. High stakes litigation is booming across the industry, although it's not heavily concentrated in any one law firm or in any one business sector. Every year, more than a quarter million visits are paid to A2L's blog, The Litigation Consulting Report. Each year we publish more than 100 articles focused on highly specialized areas of persuasion science, jury consulting, high-stakes litigation, and the use of litigation graphics at trial. To help our readership find the very best articles, we publish "best of" articles like this one throughout the year. Today, I'm highlighting the five articles that you, our readers, voted the very best of the past two quarters. I think each is a fascinating read. 5. 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams: Our top trial experts at A2L seek to distill the essence of trial preparation and develop a numerical way to measure its quality and predict success. 4. 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams: We tell our readers what the unique characteristics of the top trial teams are. Some of them are quite surprising.
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting The first quarter of 2016 was one of A2L Consulting busiest in our 20+ year history. Not only was business up, visits to our web site increased 10% over the first quarter of 2015, and our Litigation Consulting Report Blog reached 8,000 subscribers. These metrics suggest that the litigation industry, particularly the big-ticket litigation segment, continues to perform well. The growth in the number our blog subscribers is truly eyeopening. Just a little more than year ago we were celebrating reaching 5,000 subscribers. I still find it completely amazing that about 200 people sign up for our award-winning litigation and persuasion-focused blog every month. Since we launched this publication that now sees more than 250,000 visits every year, hundreds of new clients have found their way to A2L and thousands more have benefited from the information we have shared here, from free articles to free e-books to free podcasts to free webinars. Five years ago, I thought the whole idea of blogging was misguided, and boy, was I wrong. To enhance our reader's experience, each quarter we help surface those articles have been "voted" the very best in the most recent quarter. That is, if we publish 25 articles in a three-month period, some are going to be viewed more often than others, and these are effectively voted the very best. These six articles below were voted the very best by our readers in the first quarter of 2016. 6. Millennials and Jury Psychology: Why Don't They Follow the Rules?: A jury consultant analyzes the jury psychology of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and focuses on this generation's distrust for authority. 5. A Jury Consultant Is Called for Jury Duty: A well-known jury consultant finds herself in a Manhattan courtroom as a prospective juror and describes her experiences.
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting