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The Litigation Consulting Report

The Top 10 A2L Consulting Litigation E-Books

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

top 10 a2l consulting litigation ebooksby Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
A2L Consulting

At A2L Consulting, we not only try to serve our clients and to produce great results at trial; we also want to become thought leaders in the trial consulting world and to educate lawyers, experts, and others on the exciting developments that are going on, both in research on juries, persuasion and other topics, and in the actual use of trial techniques.

All of our ebooks are free to anyone. You need not be a client of A2L. In the past two years, more than 10,000 free ebooks have been downloaded from A2L Consulting's site. 

We release a new book focused on a particular area of the legal industry just about every month.  Our first ebook, back in 2011, was not even 10 pages long.  Some of our recent books have been more than 150 pages long.

Most of our ebooks feature a curated list of articles culled from our hundreds of published blog posts and other articles on litigation topics plus a few extras. All have been released completely free in the spirit that we can elevate the quality of work being done in the litigation consulting industry.

For example, the Complex Civil Litigation Trial Guide, our most popular download so far, is 174 pages and is designed for the trial lawyer preparing for a complex case. But the insights in it can help almost anyone who wants to learn more about trial strategy and tactics.

The topics in that ebook include: Seven Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement, How to Embrace a Two-Track Strategy and Win the War, Six Reasons the Opening Statement is the Most Important Part of a Case, How Timelines Can Persuade Judges and Juries, and Ten Videos to Help Litigators Become Better at Storytelling.

This ebook, like many of our other offerings, starts with the premise that the most important thing that a litigation consultant can do to help a trial team is to focus on the story that that trial team wants to develop. A litigation consultant brings not only the common sense that a fresh pair of eyes offers but also the experience of having seen, in hundreds of trials, what works and what does not work.

So one of the reasons this ebook has succeeded so well is that it can help any trial team develop a case and win at trial. It shows how to master the complexities of your case, yet still remain able to explain them to a judge or jury in a straightforward manner.

It also shows how to pick a trial graphics consultant to support your work, what to do when your trial team goes bad as a result of the anxiety that understandably can accompany any piece of complex litigation, and how trial graphics can explain even the most complicated scientific and engineering concepts to a jury. 

Here are our top 10 litigation ebooks listed in descending order by download count. 

  1. describe the imageComplex Civil Litigation Trial Guide (1st & 2nd Editions) - 1,918 Downloads, released Feb 25, 2013
  2. patent litigation graphics presentation guide Patent Litigation Trial Presentation Toolkit (1st & 2nd editions) - 1,669 Downloads, released September 10, 2012
  3. litigation support ebook Litigation Support Toolkit (1st & 2nd editions) – 998 Downloads, released February 24, 2013
  4. describe the image Litigation Timeline Reference Book - 943 Downloads, released March 6, 2012
  5. describe the image Antitrust Litigator's Trial Prep & Trial Presentation Guide - 807 Downloads, released October 17, 2012
  6. describe the image Leadership Lessons for the Trial Team Leaders (1st & 2nd editions) – 676 Downloads, released TKTK
  7. storytelling for lawyers litigators litigation support courtroom narrative icon Storytelling for Litigators - 589 Downloads - Released March 11, 2013
  8. describe the image How to Find the Top Trial Technicians (1st & 2nd editions) 417 Downloads, released August 22, 2012
  9. describe the image Environmental Litigator's Trial Presentation Handbook (1st and 2nd Editions) 395 Downloads, released December 24, 2012
  10. describe the image Litigator-Jury Communications 3-Year Study Results 359 Downloads, released January 2, 2007

a2l consulting voted best demonstrative evidence jury consultants 

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Patent Litigation, Environmental Litigation, Storytelling, Leadership, Trial Director, HubSpot Tips, Antitrust Litigation

Environmental Litigation Trial Presentation & Trial Prep E-Book 2nd Ed.

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 @ 10:22 AM


environmental litigation trial presentation trial prep ebook a2lby Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
A2L Consulting

Environmental cases are among the hardest types of cases to litigate. They include technical elements similar to patent cases, they involve scientific elements similar to pharmaceutical cases, and they can bring in damages issues similar to construction cases.

In addition, for many jurors, environmental cases are fraught with political ramifications in a way that many other cases are not. Jurors often harbor a basic belief that if a big company is on trial, it has probably harmed the environment in pursuit of profits and has caused long-term damage to the planet – either by directly polluting the air, water, or ground, or by contributing to global warming.

In addition, the natural complexity of many environmental cases means that demonstrative evidence must be used extensively in any trial presentation, and this demonstrative evidence will almost always be highly scientific in nature – something that can numb the minds of many jurors.

In law school, I concentrated on environmental law and worked in the environmental department of a major pharmaceutical firm, so I understand both the complexity of environmental cases and their importance in trial presentation.

So the challenge for those involved in trial presentation in environmental cases is to overcome jurors’ biases and to keep the cases interesting.

The first rule in developing a litigation narrative and the appropriate litigation graphics, especially in an environmental case, is to simplify the complex. Unlike the trial lawyers, a jury has not lived with the case for many years. The key is to build trial presentations that present evidence and information in a manner that can be easily digested by those who, based on limited time and/or limited exposure to the case, want and need to see the big picture.

For example, a case may center on the process of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. As a means of extracting natural gas from rock, fracking has the remarkable potential of quickly making the United States a net exporter of natural gas rather than a net importer. Yet fracking has been challenged on a number of seemingly cogent environmental grounds.

In a case that involves fracking, a good trial presentation may be used to educate a potential jury pool, to persuade and inform government officials and to support settlement negotiations. The same would be true in nearly every kind of environmental case.

In many other types of cases, the task is further complicated by the fact that environmental harm occurs over a period of years or even decades. In such situations, it is crucial to show not only how the damage occurred initially but how it became more serious, or less serious, over a period of time.

Both sides in a major environmental case usually bring in environmental experts to help explain their side of the case to the jury. However, these experts are trained in science and engineering, not in information design, so their testimony, however scientifically compelling, may be presented in a way that is too complex to appeal to jurors. An astute expert knows that testimony can be bolstered by the inclusion of an outstanding trial presentation.

We have prepared a handbook on environmental litigation and trial preparation called the “Environmental Litigation Trial Presentation & Trial Prep E-Book.” We planned it as a guide to all the issues and all the possibilities that can come up in environmental litigation – whether the issues involve the use of PowerPoint, scientific expert witnesses, body language, or any of a myriad of other questions that can come up in this complex field. 

Download a Complimentary Copy Here & Enjoy Your New A2L Consulting E-Book!

Download Environmental Litigation E-Book Here

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, E-Book, Demonstrative Evidence, Jury Consultants, Environmental Litigation

Using Trial Graphics & Statistics to Win or Defend Your Case

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Jul 9, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

david schwartz innovative science solutionsThis article is coauthored by A2L Consulting’s CEO, Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D., a trial graphics and trial consulting expert and David H. Schwartz, Ph.D. of Innovative Science Solutions. Dr. Schwartz has extensive experience designing programs that critically review the scientific foundation for product development and major mass tort litigation. For 20 years, he has worked with the legal community evaluating product safety and defending products such as welding rods, cellular telephones, breast implants, wound care products, dietary supplements, general healthcare products, chemical exposures (e.g., hydraulic fracturing components), and a host of pharmaceutical agents (including antidepressants, dermatologics, anti-malarials, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, and diet drugs).

[See also follow-up article discussing the null hypothesis

Many of us have been there in the course of a trial or hearing. An expert or opposing counsel starts spouting obscure statistical jargon. Terms like "variance," "correlation," "statistical significance," "probability" or the "null hypothesis." For most, especially jurors, such talk can cause a mental shutdown as the information seems obscure and unfamiliar.

It’s no surprise that talk of statistics causes confusion in a courtroom setting. Sometimes, a number can be much higher than another number and yet the finding will not be statistically significant. In other instances, a number can be nearly the same as its comparison value and this difference can be highly statistically significant.

Helping judge and jury develop a clear and accurate understanding of statistical principles is critical – and using the right type of trial graphics can be invaluable. 

Let’s demonstrate this by way of example.

Suppose we want to know whether a petroleum refinery increases the level of benzene in fish that inhabit the coastal waters near the refinery.

statistics litigation null hypothesis trial graphics resized 600

The hypothesis is that the benzene level in the coastal fish near the refinery (the Refinery Fish) is higher than the benzene level in off-shore fish that live in waters far from the refinery (the Control Fish).

trial graphics statistics hypothesis litigation courtroom resized 600

Because we can never collect every single fish and measure benzene levels in all of them, we will never know the precise answer to the hypothesis (not to mention the fact that if we did, the study would be irrelevant because there would be no more fish). But we can sample some of the fish near the refinery and then compare the benzene levels in these fish to a sample of fish collected from the middle of the sea. Statistical techniques are a clever tool that we use to answer the research question, even though we haven't measured all the fish in each location.

Unless one is trained in statistics, the evaluating might appear easy and straightforward. Simply compare benzene levels in the Refinery Fish sample to the benzene levels in the Control Fish sample and see which is higher. But what if our sample only reveals a very small difference between the benzene levels in the Refinery Fish sample compared to the Control Fish sample? How do we know if that difference we observed in our samples is a real difference (i.e., potentially due to a causal relationship with the refinery) or whether it was simply due to our sampling techniques (i.e., due to chance)? Statistical techniques provide us with a way to properly interpret our findings.

An overview of well-established statistical techniques surrounding hypothesis testing is in the trial graphic below:

statistical analysis trial graphics litigation court resized 600

While this graphic is somewhat oversimplified, it does provide the basic steps that are taken in the hypothesis testing decision tree.

Although imperfect [pdf], a criminal case serves as a useful analogy to help understand how statistics work. In a criminal case, the defendant is assumed to be innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In statistical terms, the overall trial can be likened to statistical testing of a hypothesis (i.e. did he do it?), and the presumption of innocence can be likened to the "null hypothesis." Like the null hypothesis, the starting point in a criminal trial is that defendant is not guilty, and in statistical terms, that the connection you've set out to establish is just not there. The trial graphics below provide an overview of this concept. Again, this is an imperfect metaphor and is subject to criticism from a pure statistical vantage point. Neverteless, it provides some assistance to the novice in clarifying the fundamental tenets of hypothesis testing.

trial graphics explaining null hypothesis criminal analogy statistics resized 600

Returning to our refinery hypothetical, we form our null hypothesis.

In this case, the null hypothesis is that the Refinery Fish are exactly the same as all the other fish in the ocean in terms of benzene levels — specifically, that they come from the same population. Succinctly, the null hypothesis is as follows:

Null Hypothesis

There is no difference in benzene levels between the Refinery Fish and the Control Fish.

In our study, as in all scientific studies, we will be testing how likely it is that we would obtain dataat least as extreme as our data if the null hypothesis were true. In other words, we will be evaluating the conditional probability of obtaining the data that we observe.

In plain English, proper statistical testing means assuming your hypothesis is wrong and then evaluating the likelihood that you would come up with the findings that you did. Statistical testing is not about proving things true. Rather, it is about proving that the alternative — i.e. your null hypotheses — is likely not true. Only then can we reject the null hypothesis and conclude that our research hypothesis is plausible.

Determining whether or not it is reasonable to reject the null hypothesis is done by collecting data in a scientific study. Here, we start by measuring benzene levels in two samples of fish: (1) a group of fish near the refinery (Refinery Fish); and . . . 

trial graphics statistics hypothesis testing standard resized 600

(2) a group of fish in the middle of the ocean, nowhere near the refinery (Control Fish).

trial graphics statistics rejecting null hypothesis research control resized 600
We will then calculate an average benzene level in each group of fish, which will serve as a reasonable estimate of the benzene level in each population of fish (i.e., all fish living near the refinery and all fish not living near the refinery). Of course, how we take our samples is a critical component of the study design, but we will assume for this example that we have used appropriate sampling techniques.

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Let's examine 3 possible outcomes in the trial graphics below. The first possibility will deal with an obvious result.

trial graphic using statistics attorney 1 resized 600

In this example, let's assume that every fish in the Refinery Fish sample had a benzene level of 10, and every fish in the Control Fish sample had a benzene level of 1. Thus, the average Refinery Fish benzene level is 10 and the average Control Fish benzene level is 1. When we do our statistical test, we calculate the conditional probability – i.e., the probability that we would have obtained this dramatic difference (10 vs. 1) given that the null hypothesis is true. This probability is called a "p value."

In this case, the p value is so low (let's say: p = 0.00000001) that we reject the null hypothesis. Stated another way: The probability of obtaining such extreme data if the null hypothesis were true is 0.0000001. Based on this analysis, it doesn’t make sense to believe that we would have obtained these results if the null hypothesis were true. So we reject the null hypothesis.

Our study was a success. We reject the null hypothesis, and we draw a clear-cut conclusion -- i.e., the Refinery Fish come from a different population of fish with respect to benzene levels. So we conclude that the refinery, absent other factors, may have something to do with the benzene levels in these fish. Because this difference was so clear-cut (every single fish in the Refinery Fish sample had extremely high benzene levels and every single fish in the Control Fish sample had extremely low values), we didn’t even need statistics to get our answer.

Now let's look at another, more realistic, possibility. This time the difference between the two samples is a little less clear cut.

trial graphic using statistics in courtroom 2 resized 600

In this example, the average benzene level in the Refinery Fish sample is 8 and the average benzene level in the Control Fish sample is 3. When we do our statistical test, we learn that the p value is 0.02. Said another way, the probability that we would have obtained these findings, given that the null hypothesis is true, is about 2%.

Thus, as with the extreme example above, the probability of obtaining these findings, given that the null hypothesis is true is very low (not quite as low as in the prior example, but still pretty low). This raises the question: how low a probability is low enough?

null hypothesis teaching to jury standards rules resized 600

Traditionally, statisticians have used a “cut-off” probability level of 5%. If the probability of obtaining a certain set of results is less than 5% (given the null hypothesis), then scientists and statisticians have agreed that it is reasonable to reject the null hypothesis. In this case, we reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the Refinery Fish must come from a different population than the Control Fish. Again, as with the earlier example, we conclude that the refinery must have something to do, absent other factors, with the benzene levels.

So far, so good. Now, let's do one more. This time let's assume that the difference between the Refinery Fish sample and the Control Fish sample has gotten much smaller.

trial graphics using statistics judge jury law 3 resized 600 1

In this example, the average benzene level in the Refinery Fish sample is 5 and the average benzene level in the Control fish sample is 4. The benzene levels, on average, are numerically higher in the Refinery Fish compared to the Control Fish. But are they statistically higher? In statistical terms, how likely would it be to obtain these findings if all the fish were the same with respect to their benzene levels? In other words, is it reasonable to conclude we would have obtained findings this extreme if the refinery had nothing to do with the benzene levels?

When we do our statistical test, we learn that the p value is 0.25. Thus, the probability that we would have obtained findings this extreme, given that the null hypothesis is true, is about 25%. One in four times that we take these samples, we will get findings like this if the null hypothesis is true.

A twenty-five percent chance is not so unlikely. It certainly doesn't meet the 5% cut-off rule (i.e., less than 5%). Therefore, statistical best practices tell us that we cannot reject the null hypothesis.

But what does it mean when we cannot reject the null hypothesis? Can we conclude that the null is true? This is actually a critical question, and it represents an area where statistics often get misused in court, in trial graphics, in the media and elsewhere. And what about other intervening factors like bias and confounding?

Our next posts on using trial graphics and statistics to win or defend your case will grapple with these important questions. Please do leave a comment below (your email address is not displayed or shared).


[See also follow-up article discussing the null hypothesis


Other A2L Resources related to this article:

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Tags: Energy Litigation, Statistics, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Courtroom Presentations, Demonstrative Evidence, Science, Environmental Litigation, Advocacy Graphics

Explaining a Complicated Process Using Trial Graphics

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 @ 12:12 PM

process flow charts trial graphicsIn our work as trial graphics specialists, many cases require us to prepare a demonstrative exhibit that simplifies a complex process. This could be a scientific or technical matter such as how environmental remediation is conducted, how surgical mesh is used, or how data backups are migrated, or it could be a business or governmental matter such as how a form of bond obligation is created and sold or how a government contract is bid and awarded.

The key to making a successful process chart or flow chart is to create a simple trial graphic that anyone can quickly understand. It does not have to spell out every last detail of the science, technology, business concept, or governmental action involved; it merely has to discuss it accurately and in a way that will help the judge or jury understand what is at issue in the case.

Here are some examples of process chart trial graphics that we have used and that we thought were effective.

In this video below, we use PowerPoint intellectual property graphics to explain how video playback and freeze frames are handled through the use of tagging technology. This was a very valuable trial graphic in a patent case.


In the presentation below, we explain, in schematic form, the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process that is used to extract natural gas from rock. The presentation shows how far below the earth’s surface fracking occurs and the industry’s routine use of cement and steel casings to protect groundwater from the tools and substances used in the fracking process.

In the presentation below, we show in graphic form the process in which collateralized debt obligations are created by investment banks. Through the use of Prezi presentation software, we were able to make this highly technical and complex matter comprehensible to a fact finder by introducing the concept of an “investment” and then showing how CDO’s are simply a type of investment.

In the trial graphics, we explain the drug development process in the United States and the process for regulatory approval of new drugs by the Food and Drug Administration. This PowerPoint demonstration helped a jury understand the length of time that the process can take, why it can take so long to bring a drug to market, and all the steps involved. 

Below, we introduce a jury to the process of creating a FLIP (Foreign Leveraged Investment Program). By numbering the steps in the process and creating arrows from the taxpayer to other entities, we were able to show how this tax shelter unfolds.

describe the image

What Is FLIP


The PowerPoint trial graphics below, created for a patent trial, shows how a coal conversion process occurs.


process charts trial graphics

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Patent Litigation, Pharmaceutical, Environmental Litigation, PowerPoint, Securities Litigation, Process Charts

Courtroom Graphics in Mining Cases (e.g. Coal, Gold, Copper, Uranium)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Jan 9, 2012 @ 11:20 AM

Because of the continuing high value to society of minerals that are mined from the earth, mining litigation, when it occurs, often involves very high stakes.  This is all the more true in our high-tech era, in which a wide variety of minerals have found new, very valuable uses in cutting-edge scientific and industrial applications.

For example, one little-known “rare earth” metallic element, dysprosium, is now used in laser materials, commercial lighting, control rods in nuclear reactors, hard disks, drive motors for hybrid electric vehicles, and high-precision fuel injectors.  The vast majority of jurors have never heard of this element, whose continued availability is crucial to the nation’s economic well-being. 

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When A2L is involved in mining litigation, the case can involve a dispute over mining technology, a conflict over the value of a mined material, a dispute about how valuable minerals from the mining operation will be distributed according to a contract, or an environmental dispute usually involving mine waste such as wastewater or tailings.

Often these cases are tried in courtrooms where the jury pool is very far removed from the concepts of mining and needs to be educated about those basic concepts.

For example, tailings are the materials left over in a mine after the process of separating the valuable fraction of the ore from the uneconomic fraction.  To a population of a mining town, their characteristics are well known; an urban jury, however, will require considerable education about how tailings are produced and what their environmental risks may be.

A 2002 report, Stewardship of Tailings Facilities[pdf], concluded that “tailings storage facilities typically represent the most significant environmental liability associated with mining operations. They have been in the news frequently in recent years for unfortunate reasons, as a result of a series of well-publicized failures subjected to rapid and widespread reporting in the media. These recent failures, together with previous ones, have put the mining industry under increasing pressure and scrutiny in regard to its environmental practices in general and the safety of tailings impoundments in particular. “ The industry is often placed in a position where it needs to respond to that scrutiny.

Courtroom graphics are important to give juries a balanced view of the issues surrounding mining operations – issues that jurors know little about and that are subject to manipulation by interest groups that see only one side of the issue.

A simple 2D animation, below, is used to show how the copper mining process works. This type of animation is easy and inexpensive to produce and is convincing to a jury.


Another animation, below, shows the way in which a company prepares a copper deposit for the process of open-pit mining.


The straightforward schematic diagram, below, illustrates different techniques that mining companies can use for the treatment of mine waste water.

courtroom graphics mining wastewater treatment


Another straightforward diagram, below, shows the way in which the coal that is produced by a mine is allocated among the owners of the mine.

courtroom graphics coal mining litigation 

As with any topic outside the normal experience of the average judge or juror, care must be taken to explain enough for the fact-finder to allow them to make the right decision. Courtroom graphics, including static charts, electronic exhibits and animations, make it possible to communicate a lot of complex information quickly. In an era of increasingly efficient trials, the courtroom graphics are used, the more time can be saved.

Related materials on A2L Consulting's site:

courtroom graphics demonstrative evidence mining cases

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Mining Litigation

Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking): Advocacy and Lobbying Presentations

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 @ 07:30 AM

by Ken Lopez

The courtroom is a forum where issue advocacy is enhanced by persuasive litigation graphics. However, other settings exist where attorneys, consultants, politicians, lobbyists and advocacy organizations must persuade skeptical audiences.

This article focuses on the creation of advocacy graphics for a particular issue: hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. Advocacy or lobbying graphics are especially valuable as the material may be used to educate a potential jury pool, to persuade and inform government officials and to support settlement negotiations. These advocacy presentations may be distributed via PowerPoint, YouTube or even delivered in person from an iPad®.

With information flowing faster than ever before and with timelines for decisions involving billions or even trillions of dollars shrinking (e.g. the recent Congressional budget-debt debate), we believe the need for quickly produced lobbying presentations is expanding quickly.

Indeed, just days ago, Animators at Law, publisher of The Litigation Consulting Report, announced its name change to A2L Consulting.  This better aligns our corporate identity with additional services offerings like advocacy, grass roots and lobbying visual presentations, in addition to the services we have provided for 16 years like jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology. By way of example, we tackle the hot-button issue of fracking to show how issue advocacy presentations may be used when many scientific issues remain to be answered and no clear national consensus yet exists.

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Fracking is the modern evolution of a 60-year old production stimulation technique that involves injecting fluid at very high pressure into a well. This technique is widely used to extract natural gas from shale, a form of rock that is found all over the United States in large quantities. The process produces tiny fissures in the rock, freeing natural gas for recovery.

Natural gas companies insist that fracking is safe for people and the environment. They also believe it can produce enough energy, from purely domestic sources, to last for decades or perhaps centuries.

Indeed, a study released in July 2011 concludes that a large field of rock on the New York-Pennsylvania border known as the Marcellus Shale can safely supply 25 percent of the Nation’s natural gas needs. Thus, it is no surprise that energy companies are seeking to recover this trapped natural gas.

While we do not take any position in the heated debate over fracking, we have prepared this narrated presentation that theoretically could be used to defend fracking against its opponents in a courtroom setting or used as a widely distributed issue advocacy presentation.

Our fracking presentation first shows, in schematic form, how far below the earth’s surface fracking occurs and the industry’s routine use of cement and steel casings to protect groundwater from the tools and substances used in the fracking process. Whereas groundwater is typically found within hundreds of feet of the surface, fracking occurs miles beneath the surface of the earth.

Our advocacy presentation goes on to respond to challenges regarding the nature of the fracking fluid. We aid in dispelling those concerns by using a pie chart to illustrate the point that roughly 99 percent of the fluid is merely water and sand, while the remaining amount is composed of chemicals that have familiar and reassuring uses - such as soaps, deodorants and household plastics. The advocacy message is that the environmental concerns about fracking are overstated.

A two part summary chart is then used to highlight the benefits of fracking in terms of energy independence, environmental advantages, and underscores the benefits of fracking, proving the benefits far outweigh the minimal risks.

Finally, a bar graph that uses schematic drawings of gas reservoirs and a barrel of oil demonstrate that the domestic natural gas reserves that can be tapped by fracking will last decades or centuries longer than the nation’s domestic oil reserves, thus contributing to the drive toward energy independence.

Such advocacy pieces are typical of the work we create. Most often our work is used in litigation or arbitration. However, we also create print and animated presentations for lobbying organizations around legislative and policy advocacy work or even as part of early settlement negotiations. From our perspective, all of these information conveyance requirements have the common theme that there is a skeptical audience who needs to learn and understand enough about an issue to see that the presenter’s position is correct.

More often than not, seeing is believing in our business.  Comments from all sides encouraged and welcomed.

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advocacy presentations demonstrative evidence

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Trial Consulting, Animation, Science, Presentation Graphics, Environmental Litigation, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Climate Change

6 Ways to Convey Size and Scale to a Jury

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 @ 09:30 AM


All good trial exhibits have one thing in common: They are able to appeal to juries by referring to ideas, principles, objects, or locations that jurors already know about in their daily lives.

For example, a trial lawyer may need to show how large, or how small, something at issue in the litigation actually is. An effective way of doing this is to relate it to the size or scope of an object with which a juror has personal experience.

Download Free E-Book Leadership for Lawyers 

We have prepared many exhibits that work in this manner. Not only do they give the jurors useful information but they also do this in a manner that jurors will easily recall when it comes time to deliberate. If we can present something as being “as large as a football field,” for example, we can lock that picture into the jurors’ minds.

1)  HOW FAST: In the below graphic that we used in a medical malpractice case, evidence showed that a radiologist rushed his work and missed cancer diagnoses. He read X-ray films three times as fast as an average radiologist. What did that mean? Jurors know that “speed kills,” and a very effective trial exhibit compared that speed to traveling three times the speed limit on a highway – 210 miles per hour instead of 70. That intrinsically seems reckless.


2)  HOW MUCH TIME:  In the graphic below, evidence proved that conspirators in a government contract dispute in New Orleans had spent 3,548 minutes on the phone. That number by itself would probably mean nothing to a jury. We translated that fact into a graphic that showed that in 3,548 minutes, someone could drive from New Orleans to Wasilla, Alaska (an election year reference). In that amount of time, a lot of conspiring could be accomplished.

how to show scale in demonstrative evidence 

3)  HOW LITTLE IMPACT:  In a securities case, we likened the plaintiff’s allegation that a single stock purchase affected the stock price of a company for 14 months to the notion that a single runner’s taking the lead in a marathon for eight minutes affected all 35,000 contestants in the three- to four-hour race. That defies common sense, and jurors could conclude that the allegation regarding the stock price also defied common sense.

showing scale in litigation graphics 

4)  HOW MANY:  In a Miami discovery dispute, we provided a graphic (below) of Pro Player Stadium (the then name of what is now the city’s Sun Life Stadium), with a seating capacity of 75,000. If that was the universe of all the documents at issue, the number that related to one client was a small portion of one section of the stadium, we showed.

Discovery dispute scale 

5)  HOW LITTLE:  In an environmental case, our exhibit (below) showed that the cleanup costs at issue, when compared with the company’s annual sales, were the proverbial “drop in a bucket.” That is far easier for a juror to remember than the numbers $20 million out of $4.4 billion.

Drop in the bucket BaldYarn! 

6)  HOW MUCH:  In this environmental insurance coverage litigation exhibit, the capacity of an underground tank farm is related to above ground pools.  It was a small amount of property and the capacity of the tanks was surprising when conveyed in this way.

UST Underground storage tank volume infographics

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jury demonstrative evidence 

Tags: Energy Litigation, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Juries, Animation, Science, Environmental Litigation, Securities Litigation, White Collar, Medical Malpractice, Nuclear Power Plants, Information Design

Trial Presentation Graphics: Questioning Climate Change in Litigation

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 @ 08:27 AM

In trial presentation graphics, a great deal can depend on the quantity of data that is presented to the jury and on the way in which it is presented.

For example, it has become conventional wisdom that humans generate pollution in the form of carbon dioxide, that carbon dioxide and other pollutants cause a greenhouse effect on the planet, and that this effect noticeably raises global temperatures and/or causes climate change. Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, cemented this belief in the minds of the public and future jurors, largely through the use of effective visual presentations.
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The U.S. Government chart below captures the conventional wisdom well. As large quantities of carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere with rapid industrialization in the past 100 years or so, global temperatures went up, it shows.

Trial Presentation Graphics Climate Change

Because of the recent rapid spread of the conventional wisdom, as illustrated in charts like this one, it has become almost unthinkable to suggest an alternative. But in the trial context, it can be necessary to do just that.

Climate change litigation is making its way through court systems around the world. The targets can be government agencies or large power companies, especially the coal-fired power plant industry. Should a jury be called upon to decide such a case, conventional wisdom will be on the side of the plaintiffs. But the defendants are entitled to show their version of the world’s fluctuations in average temperature – without falsifying facts, of course.

The answer is to add more data that can call into question the conventional wisdom. Changing the scale of the horizontal and vertical axes can change the climate story.

We believe the above 2.5-minute PowerPoint presentation goes a long way toward making the defendant's case that global warming of human origin is not a scientific certainty. By expanding the time frame from 120 years or 1,000 years to 800,000 years or even more, this trial presentation graphic tells a different story from the conventional wisdom.

In the courtroom, our goal in using such trial exhibits would be to create enough doubt about the plaintiff's case so that a jury cannot reasonably award money to the plaintiff.  Using additional data from scientifically valid sources and from paleoclimatologists, telling this story in way that creates doubt is possible.

Our point in creating these trial presentation graphics is not to disprove climate change. Rather, our goal is to show how even the most skeptical viewer can be persuaded through the use of effective presentation graphics. Wasn't that part of what Al Gore taught us all?

We are in the business of telling the right story, our client's story. You can almost hear the closing argument that a defendant’s lawyer would make: "More data is better, isn’t it?  Does the other side want you to look at less data?  Do they want to hide the whole truth, inconvenient though it is?”

We welcome your feedback and encourage your comments below.

Click me  Science Issues Experts Trial Litigation Litigation Graphics

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Trial Consulting, Science, Environmental Litigation, PowerPoint, Timelines, Clean Air Act, Climate Change, Information Design

Litigation Graphics: Timelines Can Persuade Judges and Juries

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Jun 20, 2011 @ 10:12 AM

Timelines can be extremely helpful in many types of trials. Whenever the order in which events occurred is a significant issue, or a jury or judge needs to understand how a story began and ended, a timeline is appropriate.

As Texas attorney and legal technology expert Jeffrey S. Lisson has written [pdf], “Timelines are the most effective way to give a judge or jury a sense of who did what, when, and to whom. Just as bar charts and graphs help the uninitiated make sense out of a sea of facts and figures, timelines show the relationship between events. Timelines generally show events laid out on a horizontal, constant chronological scale. Events – the writing of a memo, the reading of an x-ray, or the shooting of a gun – are listed in the order they occurred. While tables of dates and facts require effort to understand, timelines are instantly clear.”

trial timeline trial graphics litigation courtroom timelines

Contrary to many people’s belief, PowerPoint presentations are well suited to the presentation of timelines and other litigation graphics. Because it is easy to add hyperlinks to a PowerPoint, an experienced designer can create an interactive presentation that allows the presenter to click on a “hot spot,” such as a document icon, name or date, and move directly to that item.

For example, in the exhibit, “Prior Art Interactive Patent Timeline Trial Graphics,” that we devised for a patent case, the presenter can show the history of the prior art related to a subsequent patented invention in any order that is convenient.

Similarly, in the “Hatch Waxman ANDA Timeline,” the colored bars represent periods of conversation with the Food and Drug Administration that delayed the approval of an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for a generic drug. The timeline that we used shows visually that a citizen petition did not cause a delay in the approval of the generic drug. Rather, the delay resulted from the FDA taking its time in its review of the application. This timeline, which summarizes thousands of pages of documents, helped lead to a complete defense verdict for our client, a major pharmaceutical company.

The concept behind our exhibit, “EPA’s History of Vague Regulation and Unfair Enforcement” in a new source review case was to tell the history of EPA's lack of enforcement and inconsistent messages -- and the industry’s success in lowering pollution from coal-fired power plants in spite of the EPA’s inaction. It is possible to add other information to a timeline to make it tell more of a story and persuade, not just inform. Using timelines as a persuasion tool throughout a trial represents a higher level of advocacy than merely putting events in chronological order.  Click the image to zoom.

Timeline Plus Graph Persuades
Like any litigation graphics shown to a fact-finder, the timeline can and should be a persuasion tool.  We believe it should tell a story without having to read all or even most text entries.  Should individual timeline entries seem to be inconsistent with the overall trial theme or should juxtaposing them with a long term graph underscore that correlation does not equate with causation, we advise telling that story visually as above.


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Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Animation, Patent Litigation, Pharmaceutical, PowerPoint, Document Call-Outs, Timelines, Clean Air Act, Antitrust Litigation

Legal Animation: Learn About the Four Types Used in the Courtroom

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, May 24, 2011 @ 11:01 AM

The art and science of animated trial graphics has evolved dramatically over the past 10 years.

Animation used to refer only to 3-D animations that were produced with programs such as Autodesk Maya or Autodesk 3ds Max, formerly 3D Studio MAX.

Now a much broader array of animation tools is available to the courtroom animator, and each one has its own niche and its own strong points. We are able to provide animations of all of these varieties in-house, and we work with our clients to select the one that is best in terms of persuasive power, applicability to the problem at hand, and cost.  We have done this since 1995.

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

PowerPoint Animation

PowerPoint Animation has become by far the most widely used type of animation today. Only 5 percent or so of all courtroom animation 10 years ago, it now amounts to as much as 90 percent today. It is a flexible tool that is adaptable to many types of cases and many types of illustrations.

For example, this PowerPoint demonstrative illustrates how airbags are designed to deploy in a frontal collision, a side collision, and an oblique collision. This brief animation uses high-quality technical illustration along with PowerPoint to illuminate the airbag technology for a patent infringement case.

2-D Animation

Two-dimensional animation, produced in a program like Adobe After Effects, can also be a very useful tool. It is quite inexpensive and has an immediate appeal to jurors.

In one case, for example, we provided a brief, sequential 2-D illustration of how the copper mining process works, from the raw ore to the finished product. When budget is at issue, this type of animation is ideal for describing complicated information to jurors.

3-D Animation

Three-dimensional animation is particularly useful when small details, rather than broad outlines, are at issue. For example, in a patent trial where the workings of a toner bottle were at issue, we produced a graphic that showed the toner bottle in all three dimensions, so that the jurors could understand the unique technology that permits the toner to move through the grooves of the bottle. Here, a two-dimensional representation would not have been adequate to show how all the parts of the bottle work together. We also used close-up views to show precise details.

Flash Animation

Finally, we have used Flash animation to present long-form tutorial videos. Often, these are intended for judges rather than for juries. For example, we often use Flash to build patent tutorial videos that explain the background of the technology at issue in major patent litigation. Since a great deal of patent litigation occurs in the Eastern District of Texas, we have created many 30-minute tutorials for judges there that combine audio and video.
One good example is a demonstration that we provided of the workings of a “picking machine” in a hospital that uses both information technology and mechanical technology to translate a physician’s prescription orders to the actual selection by mechanical means of a medicine from an array of drugs.

With animated trial exhibits finding their way into most cases with at least millions of dollars at stake, the modern litigator must be aware of the four courtroom animation options.  Fluency in this language of animation will result in savings of time and money.

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Trial Presentation, Juries, Animation, Patent Litigation, Environmental Litigation, PowerPoint, Mining Litigation, Automobile Litigation, Information Design

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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 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.

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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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