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Great trial lawyers are paid to tell stories for a living. Typically, one side’s recitation of a story is more persuasive than the other – even when both sides are drawing on the same set of facts. But why? Is it the charisma of the trial lawyer? Is it the way the story is told by both sides? Is it the deployment of superior litigation graphics by one side?  Well, it’s all these things – and more. Our litigation consulting firm is often engaged to help top trial lawyers tell their stories in the most persuasive way possible. We do this by applying the latest findings of persuasion science and sharing the wisdom that we inherit by routinely observing the world’s very best trial lawyers. This article is the first in a series of four articles. My goal in this series is to reveal some of the tricks of the persuasive storytelling trade in one place for the busy trial lawyer. I hope that these recommendations can serve as a pretrial checklist for anyone who wants to draft an opening statement. A2L’s litigation consultants have published dozens of articles about storytelling, and we’ve released books and webinars on the subject. These ten tips represent the essence of what we have learned and of what we have taught. If you apply these ten suggestions when developing your story for trial, your story will be more persuasive, and you will radically increase your chances of winning your case. Tip #1. There must be a story. You should present a story, and it should follow the basic guidelines of storytelling. That is, there should be a beginning, middle, and end, and there should be storylines and human characters that your factfinders care about. Research tells us that human beings automatically make stories out of virtually all life events to gain a sense of control, even if it’s a false sense. It’s the difference between collecting bare facts and interpreting them in a coherent manner. Most people can’t resist making assumptions, drawing inferences, and imposing upon the facts what they “mean” rather than merely accepting information as is. Most of what people discuss in their social lives are stories and gossip – not random facts. Since we know that your jury will be using a story to sort out your litigation facts in order to reach its results, whose story do you want the jurors using -- one they’ve made up, one provided by opposing counsel, or yours? If we now think about how one might tell a story in an opening statement, below is a model for telling such a persuasive story. This example comes from a trial that ultimately derived from the financial crisis of the last half of the decade of the 2000s, where the issue was whether a bank could be held liable to its shareholders for bad real estate investments that the bank made.  Introduction: I like to start with the statement of some fundamental truths and an introduction of the characters like, “Banks survive on greed - it's how they make money. When they make good loans, they make money. When they make bad loans, they lose money. These bankers are essentially being accused of making bad loans, which to be true would have to mean, they were not trying to make money. When is the last time you heard of bankers not trying to make money? It makes no sense.”

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  by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Not every page, blog article, webinar or e-book on A2L Consulting's site is right for everyone. As the saying goes, what is everyone's favorite radio station? WII – FM, of course. Otherwise known as "what's in it for me?" With hundreds of articles, dozens of e-books and hundreds of other pages, A2L's website has over 2,500 pages of valuable content. Sometimes, finding materials that are specific to your litigation practice area or need can be a challenge with all the available options. You can search A2L's site or even browse by topic area using a topic list in the sidebar of every blog post. In spite of this, I still hear from a lot of people who wonder whether we have experience working in their specific practice area or where they can find useful information related to their practice. I wrote this article to highlight some very useful information organized by practice area below. I've broken down the practice areas into 14 topics that cover most of the work we do. The alphabetical list with links under each topic should prove helpful when looking for the information most relevant to you.

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by Laurie R. Kuslansky Expert Jury Consultant

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

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Banking Litigation Courtroom Presentations

We have have created courtroom presentations in banking cases almost since our very beginning nearly 17 years ago. From savings and loan litigation in the 1990s to IPO litigation stemming from the 2001 dotcom meltdown to ongoing banking fraud and bankruptcy litigation connected with the 2008 financial crisis, we have helped jurors understand complicated financial concepts that are at the heart of most banking litigation. We have discussed earlier this year how a good trial consultant can make complex financial concepts comprehensible to jurors by using courtroom presentations that relate to a juror’s basic understanding of life and personal experience. See our discussions of collateralized debt obligations and of securities litigation. The same can apply to courtroom presentations for seemingly complex banking litigation. Since nearly all jurors have bank accounts and have used ATM’s, they have a basic sense of what banks do. So it often is not a long stretch for them to have an intuitive notion that banks are involved in complex ATM networks, that they sell profitable investment products to clients, or that they manage and move large sums of money. What is more difficult is explaining the details of how these things work. In a straightforward courtroom presentation graphic below, we showed that the total revenue of a bank far exceeded the gross national product of Guatemala. We used a supermarket scale and money bags – a basic concept that any juror can follow – to make an indelible impression on the jurors. In another very straightforward courtroom presentation graphic, we showed people sitting around a conference table as a partner in a major accounting firm told them about a highly questionable tax shelter that the firm was marketing. The “shady characters” are shown in shadow to emphasize the dubious nature of what they are doing. In another courtroom presentation illustration for the same case, we portrayed this complicated financial transaction with an illustrated flow chart with seven steps, beginning with “Taxpayer realized Capital Gain” and ending with “Taxpayer Reports Loss to IRS.” Even if a juror does not fully understand the transaction on the same level as those who devised it, he or she certainly understands that somehow a “Capital Gain” was transformed into a “Loss” for the IRS. The juror has paid taxes and has never been able to convert a gain into a loss, we can be assured. We also graphically portrayed how a worldwide ATM network functions. At the bottom of the courtroom presentation chart are the individual bank customers, who are faced with the possibility of paying a “foreign fee” and a “surcharge.” Finally, for litigation involving the BCCI bank scandal of the 1980s, we created a similar chart that showed the flow of money from various entities in that case to BCCI.  This case represented our first billion dollar win.  We've had hundreds since.

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Most people, when they think of trial graphics, focus on exhibits to be used at trial. But graphics can also be used in motions and briefs presented to judges, even if jurors will never see them. After all, if you are using graphics to make your argument or tell your story at trial, why not use them at an earlier stage to make your argument convincingly in your brief?

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