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

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