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The Litigation Consulting Report

Using Litigation Graphics in Bench Trials: How Different Is It From Jury Trials?

Posted by Tony Klapper on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 @ 10:25 AM

judge-litigation-graphics-bench-trial.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We’ve spoken here more than once about the fact that jurors, unlike most attorneys, tend to be visual learners who like to be shown, not told. The best way to show them what they need to know, as we have said, is through litigation graphics. Science has also taught us that the best way to keep a jury’s attention is by telling a story in the courtroom. These insights obviously have major implications for how trial lawyers should use the arts of persuasion in a jury trial.

What about a bench trial or an arbitration? Here, the decisionmaker is trained as an attorney. Do we toss out all that we know about jury trials and proceed in an entirely different manner?

Not at all. First, narratives are just as important in a trial before a judge as they are in a jury trial. Judges are human beings, and like all human beings, they have minds that search constantly for an organizing principle, a way to tame the vast river of information that flows to them in a trial. A narrative is the best way for them to do that. Even a brilliant judge who happens to be an aural learner, not a visual learner, needs some way to organize data. That’s where your narrative comes in. (“First this happened, then this happened, then something else happened.”) Not only does story-telling make the trial lawyer’s job’s easier by making his or her case easy to understand; it also makes the case easier to remember.

After all, judges are not computers. They come to any case with their human values, perspectives and predispositions. A narrative will help them connect the case with these values and will help them build a story in their mind, based on those values and on the information they receive at the trial.

The same is true with litigation graphics. Even someone who learns predominantly through aural or kinesthetic means can still find a chart or a timeline interesting and helpful as a way of organizing information. For example, in Markman hearings, which occur exclusively before judges, patent lawyers almost invariably present diagrams of the patent figure or blow-ups of the patent language. In hearings like these and in bench trials, a trial lawyer may sometimes need fewer litigation graphics, but that doesn’t mean that the lawyer shouldn’t use any at all.

Just as top trial firms often use mock juries to test their case on before the actual trial, they can use “mock judges” in the case of a bench trial. If their budget permits, they could find a retired judge, possibly someone who knows the judge in the case, and present their evidence before him or her.

They can ask the judge what types of evidence and themes were most convincing, and which demonstratives did or did not work. It’s another good practice in presenting a case to a judge who is the decisionmaker.

Other articles about litigation graphics in bench trials, mock bench trials, and mock testing from A2L Consulting:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Markman Hearings, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Storytelling, Judges

Visual Metaphors, Analogies & Persuasion: Convince to Win

Posted by Jeanne Cannarozzi on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 @ 02:08 PM

metaphor-analogy-lawyers-courtroom-elephant-room.jpgby Jeanne Cannarozzi
Business Development Manager
A2L Consulting

Trial teams often struggle to find just the right analogy or metaphor to help convince a jury. As persuasion consultants, our role is very often that of finding options for analogies or metaphors for a trial team to consider. It's one of those times when our office looks a lot like an advertising agency with a group trying to brainstorm. I want to share some resources used by our team in coming up with good techniques for trial teams to use.

Aristotle posits that analogies "give names to nameless things.” Cognitive science has proved that humans process new, unfamiliar concepts and understand them by comparing them to familiar concepts and experiences. The concepts of “analogical reasoning” and “analogical transfer” as described by Dr. Dedre Gentner and her co-authors [PDF], and many other researchers in the field of cognitive science, have helped us understand that human cognition is inherently metaphorical.

In the same fashion, analogies are used to convince the judge or audience by presenting similarities between two things that are otherwise not alike. The use of full case-based analogies involves more criteria than does the use of metaphors, such as the jurisdiction, the number of relevant cases that speak to the issues, and the facts and relevant laws.

A visual case-based analogy can be very effective and even crucial in science-based cases by demonstrating the connection between the present case and a favorable outcome in a prior case -- most persuasively from the same jurisdiction as the present case. You can think of the connection itself in this type of analogy as a definitive road map with a very direct route, no detours and a known destination. 

Metaphors are used to show a hidden or implied connection of two different things, ideas, or activities by symbolically representing the similarities and relationships between them. There is an inherent creative freedom in the use of metaphors because there are many ideas, behaviors, images, and expressions that have a universal meaning. Litigators can introduce metaphors to make comparisons and to point out subtle similarities between the present case and a previous case.

We have used each these techniques in litigation frequently and have written some useful articles in the past about each. 

  • Visual metaphors: In this article, Courtroom Exhibits: Analogies and Metaphors as Persuasion Devices, we write about this powerful tool. In general, these tools are very persuasive as they connect something that people already understand to something complicated about the case before them. Unlike a verbal metaphor, a visual metaphor is harder to split.
  • Analogies and Metaphors: We've created lists of lists of analogies, metaphors and idioms that help us and the lawyers we work with to find just the right tool for a particular case. In this article, Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers, we list some of those.

Other free articles from A2L Consulting discussing how to convey complex concepts, use litigation graphics to persuade, and influencing decisionmaking with pictures:

mock jury webinar a2l kuslansky  

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Courtroom Presentations, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

8 Habits of Successful and Persuasive Public Speakers

Posted by Alex Brown on Fri, Oct 7, 2016 @ 11:13 AM

iStock_40536788_SMALL.jpgby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

Nearly every person can recognize a successful and persuasive public speaker when he or she hears one. But it’s not always so easy to identify the specific traits that nearly all successful speakers share. As a longtime observer of oral advocacy and persuasion, I have compiled a list of the things that all speakers should do if they want their audiences to listen and care about what they are saying – especially if their audience happens to be a jury or judge.

  1. Start strong. As you know, your opening statement will win or lose the case. So it makes sense that the opening of your opening – the very first few sentences -- is vital. Use this as your chance to set the stage. The majority of people on the jury do not want to be there or see their jury service as a waste of time, so don’t waste their time. Catch them quickly and hold their attention. 
  1. Know your audience. Make sure you are speaking to your audience, and not at them. Do you understand their background, their culture, their education level, and their socio-economic standing? Can you identify who the likely leaders will be, and can you get them on your side? Do you already know who your advocates on the jury will be? Sounds hard, but if you have a top-notch jury expert, they can give you the ammunition to know these answers before you open your mouth. 
  1. Maintain eye contact but don’t overdo it. Many people, beginners and experienced speakers alike, have an unconscious tendency to skip or jump about with their eyes when they have many people that they wish to connect with. The problem is that if you flit like a butterfly, you can unconsciously convey insincerity, detachment or insecurity. The best amount of eye contact is two to three seconds per person, or long enough to finish your phrase or sentence. Longer can be uncomfortable also, so practice maintaining eye contact appropriately.
  1. Limit distracting mannerisms or tics. Everyone has at least one: clenching, wringing or flailing your hands, pacing, playing with change or your keys in your pocket, twisting your ring, holding onto the lectern like a lifeline, licking or smacking your lips, adjusting your clothes or twisting your hair -- the list goes on. Everyone has these, but, everyone can control them. The simplest way is to see them and watch yourself, so video tape yourself and watch. You will become aware of what you are doing physically, and you will be able to focus what you say in the process.
  1. Show enthusiasm. This is what an audience wants a presenter to show. They expect to be bored and even to be talked down to, so give them what they want by not giving them what they expect. Change your tone and speed to keep them moving with you. Make sure your demeanor matches what you are saying.
  1. Avoid death by data. Yes, we all want to be credible, we all want to make sure the audience has everything it needs to agree with us. But avoid killing your audience with too much logic, analysis, reasoning and numbers. You will never inspire or connect with your audience if you are just reciting fact after fact.
  1. Sometimes, because of nervousness or excitement, we can rush through what we want to say. Fight this urge. Someone I greatly respect often says to me that I speak so fast I should charge double per hour. That sounds great, but most of us simply cannot keep up. Once you lose your audience, it is seven times harder to get it back. Also, well-placed pauses can successfully punctuate your speech. Use them to make a bigger impact.
  1. Finish stronger. You have guided them down the path toward enlightenment. They are yours now – so how do you end? Writers say there are at least four good ways to end a story: with a plot twist, with an “oh no” moment that leads to an “aha” moment, with a return to square one, and with a real ending. In a trial, you want that real ending. Close the book. People tend to lose interest once the story has reached the conclusion, so don’t waste their time. Guide them, direct them, show them the choice and end.

Other A2L Articles related to public speaking, persuasion, and appealing to a jury include:

deliver great presentations inside and outside of the courtroom

Tags: Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Juries, Persuasion

[Free Download] Trial Lawyer’s Guide to Jury Consulting & Mock Trials

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 @ 03:19 PM

A2L-MOCK-TRIAL-JURY-CONSULTANTS-TALL.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Today, we are publishing our latest free book -- A Trial Lawyer's Guide to Jury Consulting and Mock Trials.

This free 328-page book is based on the idea that even after some decades in which jury consulting has grown and established itself as a business, many lawyers still don’t necessarily understand what jury consultants do and how valuable they can be. Many lawyers probably still harbor the old idea that a jury consultant is just someone who sits next to a lawyer and uses a “gut feeling” based on a potential juror’s occupation, body language or appearance to ask the lawyer to exclude the juror or keep the juror. If that stereotype were ever true, it’s certainly not true today. We’re about as far now from the O.J. Simpson days 20 years ago as we are from the Perry Mason days.

This book is dedicated to bridging whatever conceptual gap may remain between trial lawyers and jury consultants. It pulls together many of the lessons that jury consultants have learned, so that any lawyer who reads the book can get up to speed quickly and save herself a good deal of money and time. We have been dismayed at times at the disconnection between long-held myths held even by seasoned litigators and what the data show.  Excellent trial strategies are the product of balancing art and science, data and wisdom, confidence and humility. 

Among the topics in this book are: 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics That Maybe You’re Not, Is Hiring a Jury Consultant Really Worth It?, Why Do I Need a Mock Trial If There Is No Real Voir Dire, 21 Ingenious Ways to Research Your Judge, 7 Videos About Body Language Our Litigation Consultants Recommend, 15 Things Everyone Should Know About Jury Selection and 6 Good Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial.

A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the jury and how it works. Read this book and reflect on its contents to know more than most trial lawyers do. This book is based on hundreds of trials and years of data, not mere theory or presumption. We hope you enjoy it and share it. Please send us your feedback and let us know if you have any questions or comments, any time. If you have any questions about a case, a witness, a jury pool, a venue, strategic options or dilemmas, or think your case is unwinnable, we’re only a phone call/email away and would love to hear from you. 

Jury Consulting Mock Trial

Tags: Jury Questionnaire, Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Litigation Support, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Jury Selection, Psychology, Body Language, Damages, Persuasion, Cognitive Bias

50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 @ 02:22 PM


trial team win litigation traits characteristicsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

After the more than 20 years that we have spent in the litigation consulting business, we don't hear very many questions that we’ve never heard before. However, this week I did hear one, and the story is worth sharing because it goes to the heart of how a truly great litigator performs. The question I heard was, “What can we do better as a trial team on the next engagement?”

Consider how remarkable this is. Here was a litigator from a large law firm sincerely trying to improve the performance of his team and himself. I was deeply impressed, as this was the first time I've had someone ask that question after an engagement.

It's a very sensible question, of course. A2L's team has worked with thousands of litigation teams from the very best law firms in the world. I have watched many litigators perform near-magic in the courtroom, and I have seen teams fail miserably. There are patterns that lead to success and patterns that lead to failure.

In the spirit of the question that this litigator asked me, I started thinking about the traits of the world’s most effective trial teams. Here are 50 of them culled from my experience and that of my colleagues Dr. Laurie Kuslansky and Tony Klapper.

  1. Practice is by far the single most obvious indicator of a trial team's success. The great litigators draft their openings months or years in advance of trial and practice them dozens or hundreds of times. See, Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well

  2. Preparation. Great trial teams start preparing long before trial, and they don't ask the client’s permission to do so. Their attitude is, “If you work with a team like ours, it means you want to win and we know how to win and we're going to get that done, whatever it takes.” I think they are right. There are only a handful of law firms that I have observed that have this sense of preparation embedded in their litigation culture. See, The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation

  3. Great litigation teams want their answers questioned. Great litigators are confident. They are so confident that they open themselves up to rigorous scrutiny in their approach to trial. Through a whole host of methods, they invite criticism, suggestions, fresh pairs of eyes, lay people’s opinions, experts’ opinions, and they use all of these voices to perform at their best. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators

  4. They lead, but they can be led too. Great litigators avoid dominating all discussions. They intentionally let others lead them and be seen as leaders. Download the Leadership for Lawyers eBook

  5. They just look comfortable in front of a jury. Confidence equals persuasiviness and humans are born with an expert ability to detect it.  See, A Harvard Psychologist Writes About Presenting to Win

  6. They build narratives early. They know how important a narrative is to winning a case. They have also learned from experience that the earlier this is done, the better. A well-constructed narrative can inform everything from briefing to discovery to witness preparation. Download The Opening Statement Toolkit

  7. They understand the difference between a narrative and a theme. See, 14 Differences Between a Theme and a Story in Litigation

    storytelling for judge jury courtroom best method for trial persuasion and emotion
  8. They spend their time where they are most valuable and add the most value. How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?

  9. They begin developing their visual presentation months or years before trial. See, How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?

  10. They’re not afraid of technology in the courtroom or elsewhere. Skipping technology means losing credibility in most cases now. Jurors have come to expect it and no longer take kindly to simply being lectured to. See, Trial Presentation Too Slick? Here's Why You Can Stop Worrying

  11. They’re systematic in how they meet with their outside consultants. Great trial teams usually hold weekly calls or meetings and schedule the next event at the end of each meeting.

  12. They’re not frantic. There are so many reasons why one should not be frantic, and even when the facts are terrible, great lawyers work at a measured and even pace and don't go negative. See, 10 Signs the Pressure is Getting to You and What to Do About It

  13. They don't jockey for position with other lawyers and law firms. The worst and least effective trial teams that I have ever seen play politics to the detriment of the client in the run up to trial. See, 5 Tips for Working Well As a Joint Defense Team

  14. They exhibit a distinct lack of arrogance. I think some people confuse arrogance with ability. The best trial teams I have observed display tons of confidence, show mastery of the subject matter, demonstrate massive respect for one another and never allow arrogance to enter the picture. See, In-House Counsel's Role In Keeping Litigator Ego In Check

  15. They probably subscribe to our blog. Alright, not everyone subscribes to this blog, but 8,000 people do. Litigators who demonstrate that they hope to grow their own skill set are typical subscribers. See, 10 Surprising Facts About Litigation Consulting Report Blog Readers



    Complimentary Subscription to This Blog



  16. They realize there are too many parts in big-ticket litigation for the first chair to handle all of them alone. They know how to divide the work among attorneys, paralegals, experts, and others. The only way to build a simple case is to start with a complicated one and break it down. Truly complex cases require lots of team effort to achieve this result. See, Litigator & Litigation Consultant Value Added: A "Simple" Final Product

  17. They require their experts to work with communications and visual design consultants. Perhaps 1 in 500 experts is an expert in presenting information in a jury-friendly way, but most believe that they are. 7 Smart Ways for Expert Witnesses to Give Better Testimony

  18. They don't lose it; they keep their cool. There are plenty of stressors in the pre-trial environment. People not used to doing this kind of work would find it hard to maintain a positive attitude, but it is so critical to do so. See, 5 Signs of a Dysfunctional Trial Team (and What to Do About It)

  19. They conduct post-hearing, post-conference, and post-trial debriefings. Truly great trial teams do this, and all bad trial teams simply blame a bad judge, bad facts, and/or a bad jury. See, 9 Questions to Ask in Your Litigation Postmortem or Debrief

  20. They contemplate their thematic story right from the start and incorporate that into discovery. We're working with a number of clients now who are making sure a narrative is developed early in a case, not just on the ease of trial. This is a best-practice for highly effective trial teams. See, Planning For Courtroom Persuasion? Use a Two-Track Trial Strategy

  21. They tell you their strengths and weaknesses. When we meet with a trial team for the first time, they usually present to us as if we were potential jurors. That is, they advocate. Good trial teams do that, but then great trial teams say, "here's what our opponents will say and here's where we are vulnerable."

  22. They don’t answer their own questions, but let other people do that. Often, these answers are found in a mock trial setting. As we frequently advocate, let the data speak, don't guess or just use your gut instinct. See, 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said

  23. Before dismissing new ideas, they consider how to apply them, no matter how new. See, How Creative Collaboration Can Help a Litigation Team

  24. They repeat back recommendations to make sure they understand them. This mirroring technique is used by many highly effective litigators and great listeners in all fields.

  25. They send drafts of their work with enough lead time for others to provide comments. Time management in litigation is a skill that must be developed and is a given with great trial teams. See, The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation

  26. They communicate in an orderly, consistent manner so that the left and right hands know what the other is doing. 

  27. If they aren’t good organizers, they task someone who is to assure continuity and avoid panic. Download the Leadership for Lawyers eBook

  28. They don’t assume anything and seek to verify with facts, including mock testing that shows which themes are winners and which juror types are worst. See, 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them

    mock jury webinar a2l kuslansky

  29. They don’t answer challenges by simply stating how long they’ve done this or where they went to school. See, 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations

  30. They lead, but don’t micromanage. We recently wrote about how some trial teams will agonize over fonts, colors, and PowerPoint templates while ignoring bad facts in their case during trial preparation. See, 3 Trial Preparation Red Flags That Suggest a Loss is Imminent

  31. They are respectful to junior staff and outside consultants. See, 13 Reasons Law Firm Litigation Graphics Departments Have Bad Luck

  32. They understand that their success is a team effort and approach it that way. See, When a Good Trial Team Goes Bad: The Psychology of Team Anxiety

  33. They give credit where credit is due, sincerely (not by patronizing).

  34. They lead by example. Download the Leadership for Lawyers eBook

  35. They pay their bills on time or early. I'm pretty sure most litigators don't understand how important timely payment is and how it contributes to winning cases. See, 10 Ways Timely Payment Helps You Save Money On Litigation Consulting

  36. They don't sugarcoat the possible effectiveness of the other side's narrative and thematic points and fall too quickly in love with their own narrative and themes. See, 12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials

  37. Notwithstanding a keen awareness of what the other side will say, they don't simply respond to the other side; they build their own affirmative narrative. See, $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l
  38. They pressure test throughout the course of their pre-trial development and during the course of trial itself by continuously empowering the entire litigation and trial teams to provide their own input. They eschew groupthink. See, How Creative Collaboration Can Help a Litigation Team

  39. All attorneys on the team have meaningful roles that sync with their individual strengths.

  40. They don't wait until the last minute to prepare fact and expert witnesses and instead dedicate sufficient resources to ensure those witnesses are prepared. See, Witness Preparation: Hit or Myth?

  41. Witness preparation includes, of course, careful development of an effective visual presentation that is rehearsed but doesn't sound rehearsed. See, The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses

  42. Effective litigation teams spend as much time preparing their witnesses for robust cross-examinations as they do for direct examinations. See, 
    Witness Preparation: The Most Important Part

  43. They look for opportunities to score significant points on redirect, a redirect that is thought through well in advance of trial and not simply reactive to cross.

  44. They seek candid feedback, not false praise, during trial.

  45. They get some sleep. One of my favorite, now retired, trial lawyers used to say that he never slept better than when we was at trial. He always knew he was fully prepared.

  46. They don't relegate preparation of important witnesses to junior lawyers who lack actual experience. See, Witness Preparation: Hit or Myth?

  47. They don't dismiss the level of intensive prep needed “just for deposition,” waiting for trial.  Most cases settle, and discovery can make or break a case. My favorite lawyers are just as "on" at a depo as they are at trial. See, 6 Tips for Effectively Using Video Depositions at Trial

  48. They think about details like tie color, suit color, and body language, and they work to improve their delivery at every event they participate in. See, Litigation Graphics, Psychology and Color Meaning

  49. They are grateful that they get to do the kind of work that they do. I watched a top trial lawyer and friend be interviewed recently. His attitude was one of sincere gratitude about being a litigator. That sincerity comes through in everything that he does, and it is part of the reason he is so successful in front of juries. It's something that is almost impossible to fake.

  50. Finally, they ask their litigation consultants what can they do better. So far, as mentioned in the introduction to this article, it has happened just this once. However, I have a feeling we'll get asked this question more and more. I hope this article provides a useful framework for these types of discussions.

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Litigation Management, Litigation Support, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Management, Practice, Expert Witness, Leadership, Judges, Opening, Depositions, Witness Preparation, Persuasion

5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 @ 11:20 AM


TED Talks lawyers opening statements persuasionby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Last week, I wrote about a new book that proposes a variety of life, body, and brain hacks to make us more persuasive. That book is written by Amy Cuddy, one of the top TED speakers of all time. I think the lessons she teaches are incredibly valuable for litigators looking to maximize persuasiveness during their opening statements.

So, you might ask, what makes a good TED Talk a great one? After all, some TED Talks have tens of millions of views, while others on equally interesting topics have far fewer views. I am a big fan of TED Talks, and I have highlighted some aspects of them in previous articles such as The Top 10 TED Talks for Lawyers, Litigators and Litigation Support and The Top 14 TED Talks for Lawyers and Litigators 2014.

If you happen not to know what TED Talks are, they are simply short talks, generally combined with some visual support, that are sponsored by TED, a nonprofit foundation. TED Talks have become the gold standard for thoughtful, innovative presentations to lay people in many areas of endeavor.

Last year, Vanessa Van Edwards, an expert on presentations and on human behavior, studied what makes a great TED Talk, and the results are a mix of fascinating and frightening for most people. I say frightening since many of these results fly in the face of the conventional wisdom.

Of course, as someone who lives and breathes trial presentations, I have a bit of an agenda here. I think that each of the lessons that Van Edwards gleaned from the elements of a great TED Talk are perfectly analogous to great lessons for how lawyers should make an opening statement. So, here are her five key findings:

  1. The speakers’ nonverbal body language is as important as what the speakers said. This finding is quite consistent with what Amy Cuddy found in her studies. Here however, study participants ranked speakers exactly the same whether the audio was turned on or not. That's right, what people said, did not particularly influence how much a speaker was liked. Remember a key difference here between a TED Talk and an opening statement. Jurors are asked specifically to make a decision about the facts and law - not only about whose message, style, and charisma they like best.

  2. The more hand gestures used, the more the speaker was liked. Specifically, lower ranked TED Talks had an average of 124,000 views and those speakers used an average of 272 hand gestures during an 18-minute presentation. Top TED presenters had an average of 7,360,000 views and used an average of 465 hand gestures. These first two findings point to a clear need to gesture more – but as Amy Cuddy tells us, it has to be authentic. This is no easy task, and practice is the only way to train yourself to be truly authentic. See, Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well and 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation

  3. Vocal variety generates higher charisma and credibility ratings. Speakers who appeared to speak from a script were disfavored, while those who changed pitch, altered pacing, and varied volume were rated much higher than those who did not.

  4. Smiling gets more likes. The more someone smiles in a TED context, the better they are received as a speaker. Does this translate to an opening statement? I’m not so sure. It would really depend on the subject matter I would think. After all, smiling during the recitation of a terrible fact pattern certainly will not be rewarded. However, on balance, where there is opportunity to do so, smiling will add to likeability. See also, Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom.

  5. Your first seven seconds determine how the rest of your message is received. Clearly, this is true during opening statement or even during voir dire. You will be judged by your opening line, how you deliver it, and your appearance. That snap judgment will likely color the impression of your message for the reminder of the case.

 Here's a great video from the study's author that adds color to this topic. 

Additional articles and resources from A2L Consulting about opening statements, persuasion, practice, and whether being liked by your jury really matters:

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l

Tags: Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Presentation Graphics, Psychology, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Persuasion

A Harvard Psychologist Writes About Presenting to Win

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 @ 04:59 PM


cuddy-presenting-win-litigator-belief.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I wrote about Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy's body language TED Talk in 2012. Her findings about how striking a power pose can measurably affect your persuasiveness are as relevant for litigators today as they were four years ago.

Professor Cuddy has released a new book called Presence, and it is filled with an even greater wealth of useful information for litigators. She goes into detail about what one can do to prepare for a high-pressure situation like a job interview, a competitive swim meet, or a venture capital pitch - all situations similar enough to an opening statement that we can safely assume the same advice applies.

When one is delivering as their best self, they are said to be exhibiting "presence." She says that presence is most clear to others when "we feel personally powerful, which allows us to be acutely attuned to our most sincere selves." In other words, when we believe in our message and believe in ourselves, we are in fact scientifically more believable to others - and there are ways to hack your own brain, like the power pose, to make these findings work for anyone.

Make no mistake, presence is not about feigning confidence or passion. Instead, exhibiting presence is more like being in sync with your true self. For these techniques to work and for you to maximize your persuasiveness in the courtroom, you really must authentically believe in yourself. But how?

Her suggestions for achieving presence are not conjecture. Cuddy roots her advice in solid science and rigorous study. For example, one study involved analyzing videos of 185 pitches to venture capitalists. In this setting, much like the courtroom, there is a clear winner and loser. Key behaviors (all sub-elements of presence) of all the presenters were assessed and compared with those who were successful in getting venture capital funding. 

The results are fascinating. Four factors clearly dominated all others in determining who got funding:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Confidence
  3. Passion
  4. Lack of Awkwardness

If you think about the great opening statements (and the worst) you have seen, don't these factors just make perfect sense? Doesn't that last point, in particular, resonate with some experiences you've seen (and hopefully not had) in the courtroom? For me, it certainly brings up memories of poor uses of PowerPoint, courtroom technology failures, and litigators who flubbed all sorts of things in front of a judge or jury.

Cuddy goes on to discuss a study involving mock job interviews where the candidates have to speak for 5 minutes to a group of judges who, by design, appear stoic during the entire interview. Some of the interviewees prepared by using a variety of mind and body power-enhancing techniques and some did not. Like the VC funding study and others discussed in the book, the findings of this study offer key lessons for litigators.

It turns out that you can cause others to see you as more persuasive by practicing a few key physical and mental exercises in advance of delivering your message (e.g. your opening statement). Of course, these findings apply to any high stress situation where you must be persuasive or "on."

If you want to increase your presence and thus your persuasiveness, practice some or all of these behaviors in a quiet place when no one else is watching you:

  1. Make Belief: Professor Cuddy encourages that, based on scientific studies, those going into stressful situations where persuasion will be critical, should first conduct this short three-part exercise. Step one is to identify several personal values that are important to you that you know are valued by others about you. Next, identify that value or trait that you rely on most (for me, I value my ability to deliver creative thoughts very quickly). Now, reflect on a time when you did that very well. This exercise tricks your brain into getting into a state of increased power and confidence so that you come across as more persuasive.

  2. Convey Confidence to Yourself: Before your next opening (or mock opening), assume a superhero-like power pose or a victory post for a couple of minutes. Just this act will significantly increase testosterone and decrease stress hormones.  Also, before walking into the courtroom, avoid working in a hunched position, as you would when looking at your phone. Doing so causes your brain to behave in a less powerful and confident way. If you are anxious, trick your brain into treating that anxiety as a positive by repeating, "I'm excited, I'm excited, I'm excited." 

  3. Act as if: Related to the above two concepts is the idea that we really can fake it until we make it. As Cuddy analogously explains throughout the book, if you act as though you have won your case before you walk into the courtroom, as you walk into the courtroom, and throughout the entire case, the natural swagger that this will cause you to exhibit will make you more persuasive.

At A2L, we're not usually hired to increase a litigator's presence, but we often end up delivering that result. You might ask how does a litigation consulting firm like ours help litigators achieve presence? Well, by helping litigators develop their presentations, making them highly persuasive, testing the presentations, practicing the presentations, and doing all the aforementioned work while being encouraging and not critical, we normally send a litigator into battle more confident than ever. It's exactly the kind of authentic from-the-inside kind of confidence that helps a litigator be more persuasive. 

One of our mottos at A2L is that "We Make Belief." I bet Amy Cuddy would approve of our approach.

Other articles from A2L Consulting about trial presentation, trial preparation, and courtroom presence include:

 

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l

Tags: Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Preparation, Psychology, Practice, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Persuasion

9 Things I’ve Noticed About Effective Litigation Graphics After 20 Years as a Litigator

Posted by Tony Klapper on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 @ 09:39 AM


tony-klapper-welcome-litigation-consultant-litigation-graphics.jpgby Tony B. Klapper

Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & General Counsel
A2L Consulting

I’ve recently joined the litigation consulting team at A2L as its Managing Director. This means that I will be working closely with top litigators to help them craft persuasive themes and stories, assist in the testing of a case during a mock trial exercise, and develop powerful demonstrative exhibits.

In my 20+ years working at Kirkland & Ellis and then Reed Smith, I have participated in many trials, arbitrations, evidentiary hearings, mediations, and board presentations. Almost without fail, I have been the attorney responsible for coordinating and developing the litigation graphics for these events. That did not mean putting mouse to screen in a graphics program or PowerPoint. Instead, I would put pencil to paper and sketch out a great idea that someone else transformed into a powerful litigation graphic. It is work that I have always been passionate about.

As I transition from working on graphics two or three times a year to developing them every week, I want to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve observed about trial graphics as a litigation partner at two major law firms.

  1. Janus-like slides. Janus is the Roman god of gates and doorways. He is depicted as having two faces and typically represents beginnings and endings or contrasting experiences, such as war and peace. Although not one of your sexier Roman gods – clearly no Jupiter or Venus – Janus does inspire some effective litigation graphics: A split-screen slide that reflects a cause on the left and an effect on the right, or a representation or claim on the left and visual proof that the representation or claim is false on the right. A single, simple split-screen slide can instantaneously convey a powerful message without resorting to a series of dull, ineffective bullet-point assertions. 
  1. The Timeline. Effective stories are not simply recitations of chronological events. But “when” something happens and how that something relates to “when” something else happens is almost always a central feature in litigation and part of a good story. Stories have beginnings, middles and endings. They transport us through a maze of actors and activities, all anchored in time. Instead of vertically listing from top to bottom a series of events -- as many fond of the easel and flip chart will do -- a well-crafted and visually appealing timeline allows you to elegantly develop your narrative in linear fashion. But it’s not just the narrative. A timeline that is chock full of entries may tell a completely different story than one with wide gaps of time, even without needing to read the fine print.
  1. The Hyperlinked Timeline. Of course, reading the fine print may also be important. I have designed interactive timelines that employ hyperlinks to document call-outs. This allows the audience to remain anchored chronologically while at the same time digging into the supporting details that prove up your case. I have even used parallel timelines, each with hyperlinked call-outs, to compare and contrast, provide context, or simply rebut unsupported claims with evidence-backed truths.
  1. The Timeline on Steroids. One of the more brilliant lawyers I ever worked with was David Bernick, now a partner at Dechert. David taught me a tremendous amount about story-telling and graphics development. Of the many things that David was skilled at, I was always particularly impressed by his ability to design timelines. But not just any timeline. David would weave together multiple, interrelated concepts into a single slide that employed timelines (sometimes in parallel), trend lines with vertical and horizontal axes, and icons that conveyed a wealth of information and brought focused simplicity to a sea of complexity.
  1. Photographs. Of course, a graphic does not need to have bells and whistles to be effective. Some of the most effective PowerPoint litigation graphics I ever created were simply pictures that conveyed an important point: a picture of an incredibly dusty asbestos manufacturing plant from the 1930s to contrast with the well-ventilated and controlled facility in the 1970s. Or photographs of filthy hotel rooms where an older manager was fired to contrast with sparkly clean hotel rooms where the younger manager was retained.
  1. Checklists. There is nothing simpler than a “yes” or “no” answer. Whether organized around the elements of your case, key scientific or medical observations, or even the verdict form, the simple “yes” or “no” checklist slide is often the best way to orient a jury around critical bottom-line conclusions.
  1. Process Charts. In the majority of cases I have worked on, I represented the defendant. In the majority of those cases, an underdog plaintiff claimed my deep-pocketed manufacturing client had cut corners; put profits over safety; said one thing, but did something else; and/or just stuck its proverbial head in the proverbial sand and ignored known risks. These can be tough cases to win. But one thing I have always found to be effective in crafting my client’s narrative in these types of cases was to spend time on process. I would detail graphically all the steps and controls, and people involved, in the cradle-to-grave design, manufacturing and post-sale monitoring of my client’s products. These process charts would not only help the judge and jury understand a complex series of events, they would provide their own implicit message. The greater the complexity of that process (depicted with an array of arrows connected to boxes connected to more arrows) the easier it was to believe that the company and its employees were not taking short cuts, but rather took pride in the products they made. This went a long towards de-demonizing Goliath in those cases brought by David
  1. THE Slide. It does not happen in every case, but one of the more rewarding aspects of demonstrative design is to be able to effectively convey your entire case and its central theme or themes in a single slide. I recently worked on a matter where the plaintiffs and their experts merely assumed that the defendant was the cause of the plaintiffs’ harm. Actual proof required a series of steps, each of which the plaintiffs ignored in favor of a deceptively facile two-step explanation. Armed with that theme early in the litigation, I secured “assumption” admissions from critical witnesses and wove into the opening and closing decks a single slide that clearly conveyed the plaintiffs’ short cuts.
  1. Color. As a young associate many moons ago, I learned that the color red can have a powerful effect on people. During a trial training program, a seasoned litigator stood up and demonstrated how to cross-examine a witness. When it came time to impeach the witness with prior testimony, the litigator prominently displayed a bound volume of that testimony -- supported with a bright red backing. Each time the witness strayed from his testimony, the litigator merely had to flash the red-backed volume, and the witness and the jury knew what was coming. Soon no impeachment was even necessary; once flashed, the red-backed volume, like an electric dog collar, served to keep the witness’s testimony in line. From that day forward, I understood the power of color. If you are trying to say something negative through a demonstrative exhibit, red is most certainly your color.

Other A2L Consulting articles related to the development of litigation graphics, the art and science of litigation consulting, and the development of a strong narrative for your case:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

How We Judge People Is Shaped Mostly By Who We THINK They Are

Posted by Ryan Flax on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 @ 12:52 PM

photography client lawyer portrayby Ryan H. Flax
(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & General Counsel
A2L Consulting

It’s always interesting to me how humans view and judge each other. We all do it almost all of the time, in every interaction with other people. We even do it when we don’t even interact with others, for example, while driving or watching TV. We develop little dramas and characters in our minds to make sense of the world around us and its characters.

This is particularly important in my profession, where my goal is to help litigators frame their case or showcase their client in a compelling and engaging way for judge or jury. I’ve just watched the video below and it highlights how important it is to frame our clients’ character correctly when we want a decision maker to see things our way. That “correct” way of introducing our client is whatever way will result in a decision in our favor – Ask: what would make the judge or jury feel our client should prevail?

What we see in this little experiment is the audience, here photographers, were introduced to their subject in a very specific way, that is, as a successful man, an alcoholic, a hero, a criminal, a working man, etc., and this framing of the character dictated how they saw that subject going forward. It also dictated how the photographers then presented the character to the world – in the photos they took. We see that the group of photographers themselves, upon reviewing each other’s photographs, noted that the subject/character looked like a completely different person in each of their pictures. To each of them, he was a completely different person and they judged him based on that framing.

So, this (non-scientific) experiment sheds light on the importance of how we frame and introduce our clients (and ourselves, too) to judges and juries. What we can honestly and convincingly convey to jurors about our client to make them a sympathetic, honorable, trustworthy, or dedicated (or whatever superlative you like) character, and, on the flip-side, portray our opposition as just the opposite, can go a long way toward providing the right lens through which your audience views your case and evidence.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to storytelling and portraying your client's image intentionally:

storytelling for judge jury courtroom best method for trial persuasion and emotion

Tags: Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Consulting, Psychology, Storytelling, Expert Witness

10 Types of Value Added by Litigation Graphics Consultants

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Jul 20, 2015 @ 03:10 PM

 

value-added-litigation-graphics-consultants-trialby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Over breakfast the other day, a partner in a major law firm was explaining to me that it can be challenging to explain the added value that litigation graphics consultants can provide in a case, especially given the challenging budget environment in which litigators operate today.  He was surprised when I said that the key here is not the fact that graphics consultants know how to prepare PowerPoints.

After all, the average law firm associate can prepare a pretty decent PowerPoint presentation. The problem is that perhaps one in 500 PowerPoints prepared by a smart and well-informed law firm associate does more good than harm. What litigation consultants can do for a trial team is more complex, more persuasive and more sophisticated.

So here are ten ways in which a litigation graphics consultant would add value where a litigation associate might cause harm or simply might not provide benefit.

1. Supporting the development of a narrative. We've written about this extensively, and great graphics consultants like those at our firm have enormous value here. One of the essences of trial presentation is telling a narrative. See, $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation.

2. Helping separate the theme from the narrative. Many of us who took trial advocacy were taught to start out our openings with "this is a case about . . . ." After that, we would usually state our theme. What many lawyers were not taught was how to develop a persuasive narrative. A few rare litigation graphics consultants can operate at the 1st chair level and offer this kind of support. See, 14 Differences Between a Theme and a Story in Litigation and 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant.

3. Helping combat the now-fashionable “Reptile” trial strategy tactics that plaintiffs lawyers use. We have discussed this in several recent blog posts. See, Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel.

4. Making sure that you don’t invoke the split attention or redundancy effect. This is the error of presenting information orally and in writing at the same time. See, Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors.

5. Offering that fresh pair of eyes. See, 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think.

6. Creating a high-end PowerPoint that makes a positive difference. See, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

7. Freeing up litigation counsel to be lawyers. My mentor likes to say that we should only do what we are best at. In the run-up to a trial or hearing, there is always more legal work that needs to be done. The role of litigators should be to review draft presentations and provide feedback to the consultants who have actually developed the presentation. See, Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer).

8. Litigation consultants can use nearly unknown techniques for persuasion like surprise, chart tricks, statistical persuasion or methods to overcome cognitive bias

9. Asking tough questions. See, How I Used Litigation Graphics as a Litigator and How You Could Too.

10. Bringing to the fore their extensive trial experience. Top trial consultants such as those on our team may go to trial 50 to 100 times per year. By working with them, trial lawyers gain the benefit of hearing about the best practices of other trial teams. See, With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

Other articles and resources on A2L Consulting's site related to litigation graphics, storytelling for persuasion, trial graphics and demonstrative evidence:


pretrial trial graphics motions briefs hearings

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, PowerPoint

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Authors

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-headshot-500x500.jpg 

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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