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As both a leading jury consulting firm and a leading litigation graphics consulting firm, we can offer a unique perspective about the intersection of these two fields. A mock trial is frequently a part of A2L's jury consulting work. One aspect of designing and executing a valuable mock trial that I take particular interest in is the development of litigation graphics for both sides of the case. This litigation graphics presentation is typically created in PowerPoint and is designed to support the "clopening" argument for each side's case. If it is not apparent, the industry term "clopening" is a portmanteau of the words opening and closing. During an actual trial, argument is prohibited during an opening statement and reserved only for the closing statement. During a mock trial, the opening and closing statements are combined into a single event where a case is introduced, explained, and argued. A typical clopening argument is 1-2 hours long, and an average of 30-60 real and demonstrative evidence slides will be used to support the clopening argument. Just a few years ago, many jury consulting firms neglected to use and test visual presentations during a mock trial. For decades, we have explained the obvious importance of this testing and made a case for it in articles like: Why Litigation Graphics at Mock Trials Make Sense, Why You Should Pressure-Test Your Trial Graphics Well Before Trial, 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Mock Jury About Litigation Graphics, and Mock Trial Testing of Litigation Graphics AND Arguments. In my experience, the visual presentation is as important as the oral presentation during a mock trial. It aides in juror understanding, it speeds up the case considerably, it provides lessons to the litigation graphics team, and it makes for a more realistic simulation of the actual trial. See, Insist Your Litigation Graphics Consultant Attend Your Mock Trial. As is often the case for a trial, preparation for a mock trial is typically focused on the development of the initial presentation for the mock jurors. It's a sensible place to concentrate trial prep efforts as designing this presentation forces timely preparation of the legal arguments, the development of a well-honed narrative, and often the discovery of the best way to visually explain a case. Preparing these presentations for a mock trial is quite different from preparing for a courtroom trial, however. Whether you are a veteran trial lawyer or you are considering your first mock trial. These three tips below are useful for anyone planning a mock trial and have proven to be critical in the very best mock trials I have observed:

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by Alex Brown Director of Operations A2L Consulting I read an article today that can be applied to our industry so well that I thought I should apply its lessons. The article was written by Eddie Shleyner and is titled: How to Defeat Your Most Dangerous Writing Habit: 7 Ways to Lift 'The Curse of Knowledge' The article highlights the concept of being cursed due to knowing too much. The issue refers to someone who has studied a subject so thoroughly that it becomes difficult to explain it to people who don’t know as much about the subject. As an example, he discusses the book, Made to Stick, where the Heath brothers provide an example: “Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.” Cognitive bias is what we are talking about. Shleyner notes that this is particularly dangerous to writers, since in conversation, a listener can ask questions to clarify the issue. But litigators, when giving an opening or closing statement, are in the same boat as writers since they are unable to ask or receive questions from their audience. So, how can you defeat this curse? Ironically, more knowledge is the answer. The more you know about the curse, the less likely you will succumb to it and the more persuasive you will be. Let’s take a look at his seven best practices to combating this curse and apply them to our industry. 1. Know your audience’s base subject knowledge. Jury Research. Focus Groups, Mock Exercises. Basically, you need to know your audience. Not only to know how they think, but why, what, who, where and the often forgotten wow. Learn how they think, learn the history to know why they think this way, but most importantly, figure out how to say it in a way that will wow them and be remembered. Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom 5 Reasons Why Jury Consulting Is Very Important Group Psychology, Voir Dire, Jury Selection and Jury Deliberations

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By Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting A2L Consulting  It’s often said that the door to winning your case closes in your opening statement. Unless you are able to grab your audience, the jury, then and there, you may never be able to do so. So how do you maximize your chances of grabbing the attention of the jury at the time that it matters most? One way is through the use of mock trials. How? Mock trials can help you avoid losing jurors from the start, help you set the stage properly, and help mock jurors begin to use their selective attention in your favor in the following ways: Confusion. Mock trials readily reveal helpful and harmful sources of confusion.  Usually, but not always, simplicity is your friend. Either way, you will need to know how to make your points clearly during your opening. You can also determine whether your points needs graphics support from the start, how best to word them, and the context needed to place them properly in opening. Resistance. In addition to confusion as a barrier to accepting certain points in your case, jurors may bring other sources of resistance, such as personal experience, common sense, emotions, negative beliefs and the like. Unless you know what these are, you can’t get past them, no matter how hard you try. However, you can clear the way for jurors to be willing to listen to you by addressing these issues early in your opening, as by saying what the case is not about, or showing them that you are aware of their potential negativity and how you plan to overcome it. Otherwise, they will shut you out and shut down, right from the start. Cognitive Overload. You may have a lot to say, but jurors are limited in what they can hear, remember and use.  A mock trial will help identify where those two worlds optimally meet – the right amount of information needed to prove your case at the level the jury needs to find in your favor. Opening helps jurors map out what to expect and can show them that you will do as much as needed to provide them with proof, but you won’t scare them off by threatening them with too much information.

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  by Ryan H. Flax, Esq. (Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting A2L Consulting In our two previous posts, we discussed two important roles that an opening statement can play: making you and your client appealing to the jurors, and telling a convincing story. Here are two other key functions for an opening statement.

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by Elise Jefferson, MA A2L Consulting An intriguing and complex aspect of civil litigation is the use of damage awards as a means of achieving justice. This remains an inexact science; no one can predict the amount of money that a jury is going to award the plaintiff if liability is found. However, a good deal that is worth knowing has been learned about what goes into that decision. For example, studies have examined damage awards when jurors are asked to award a specific amount, as well as how jurors’ perceptions of the plaintiff’s motives for suing can affect damage awards. Although it can be difficult to predict how much money a jury may award, it is still important to consider the various theories that attempt to explain what influences jurors when determining damages. Following are four theories that reflect the current state of the art.

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by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D. Jury Consultant

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