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The Litigation Consulting Report

10 Fears That First-Time Users of Litigation Consultants Have

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 @ 05:14 PM

fear-use-litigation-consultants-jury-graphics-technology.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

At A2L, we have worked with thousands of clients over the last several decades. When we first started, almost no trial lawyers had experience with litigation consultants. However, as time went on, the majority of the people we work with have used either jury consultants, litigation graphics consultants, or trial technology in-court specialists at some point in their careers.

All these years later, perhaps 20 percent of our clients are first-time litigation consulting users. Not surprisingly, first-time users exhibit many of the same fears that newcomers have shown for decades.

Most of these fears are simply fears of the unknown, not actual problems with using litigation consultants. At the core of these fears is a fear of being out of control. But when is a client ever really out of control? Never. We service providers strive at all times to make our clients happy. 

Still, many fears persist about using litigation consultants the first time.

  1. Fear: Costs will spiral out of control. Reality: In my opinion, some of the firms who have failed in our industry helped create this fear. At our firm, we strive to be completely transparent about costs. To that end, we've developed alternative fee arrangements, we've developed loyalty programs, and we are deadly serious about telling our clients everything they need to know about costs.
  1. Fear: I'll be revealed for who I really am. Reality: Most good leaders struggle with imposter syndrome to a degree, myself included. In my experience the best litigation leaders not only question their approach regularly but they invite that type of questioning. See, 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams.
  1. Fear: I don't want to be told what to do. Reality: Only a non-savvy litigation consultant would tell you what to do. Remember, you're the client. Yes, winning is a priority but so is building and maintaining a relationship with you.
  1. Fear: I might look bad to my client. Reality: Great litigation consultants pay as much attention to the relationship between you and your client as they do to the relationship they are building with you. 
  1. Fear: I'm supposed to have all the answers. Reality: No, you're not. You're no doubt an expert in many areas, but nobody is an expert in all of them and nobody has the time to prepare for everything leading up to a major trial. Delegation is as much a sign of good leadership as anything else. See, 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams.
  1. Fear: No really, I'm supposed to have more answers than I have. Reality: One of the most important reasons to work with litigation consultants is to get to the point where you can thrive in doing what you do well, and your litigation consultants can do what they are so well trained to do. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators.
  1. Fear: I don't want to practice in front of others. Reality: What great athlete, politician, actor, or speaker does not practice in front of others. If you want to be great, practice is non-negotiable. See, The Very Best Use of Coaches in Trial Preparation.
  1. Fear: Technology makes me uncomfortable. Reality: A great litigation consulting firm will take technology off your hands as much as you like. While many jurisdictions demand technical competence from lawyers now, it is perfectly reasonable to delegate all or most of the tech needs at and leading up to trial. See, From the Hot Seat: To Use or Not to Use Trial Presentation Software.
  1. Fear: I don't have time. Reality: Using litigation consultants saves time. They take things off your hands that you probably should not be doing anyway. See #10 in 12 Reasons Using Trial Consultants (Like Us) Is Possibly Not Fair.
  1. Fear: I don't need help - that's for the weak. Reality: The best litigators I work with seek help - all of them. Even trial-challenged litigators I know seek help. In my experience, the only people who don't seek help are people who are afraid they are going to lose. See, 3 Trial Preparation Red Flags That Suggest a Loss is Imminent.

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Technicians, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Psychology, Alternative Fee Arrangements

The Results Are In for Best Trial Consultants

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 @ 01:17 PM

best-trial-consultants-best-of-the-legal-times-2016.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I don't want this post to be purely self-congratulatory, but I do have some good news to share. I think it's relevant and useful news for litigators and litigation professionals.

A2L was just voted number one in the legal industry again. This time, it's in the category of trial consultants, in a poll conducted by the prestigious Legal Times newspaper. This accolade comes on the heels of being voted the number one jury consultant and number one litigation graphics provider in a variety of other national polls.

Here's why I think this information is helpful for our readers. Twenty years after founding A2L, when I look at our industry I see three or four firms capable of delivering truly top-class results in high-profile litigation. However, the view from the law firms seems entirely different.

If you Google any of our services like jury consulting, litigation graphics, or trial technician providers, we may very well come up first in many of these searches (for good reason), but there will be dozens if not hundreds of other providers listed for these services.

How is one expected to sort the wheat from the chaff? You can't tell from a Google search because it's obviously not a reliable indicator of who is a top services provider. You can't always tell from your colleagues either. Have they had have many excellent experiences with a provider, or just a one off -- or do they have a longstanding relationship with a provider without a reliable track record?

Well, it's exactly surveys like this one in Legal Times that provide an objective source from thousands of lawyers surveyed. And I'm proud to say that over the last five years, A2L has been consistently highly ranked in just about everywhere we've been nominated.

So if you're in the market for a litigation consulting firm like ours or if you're in the market for another service like discovery, court reporting, or even law firm and litigation financing, a guide like this one is a good source of information. These guides prepared by objective organizations like Legal Times provide a directory of high-quality providers and can save a stressed litigator or litigation paralegal considerable time identifying the very best jury consultants, the very best litigation graphics providers, the very best trial technicians, the very best trial consultants or any one of dozens of categories relevant to litigation.

Click here to download your copy of this 2016 guidebook. I hope it's helpful to you.

top jury consultants best litigation graphics firm hot seat trial techs

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Awards

From the Hot Seat: To Use or Not to Use Trial Presentation Software

Posted by Alex Brown on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 02:42 PM

david-goliath-trial-presentation-trial-director.jpgby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

While I was working on a case with one of our clients, it came to light that the opposition was using a trial technician for trial. At first our client did not want to bear the expense and did not feel that the case lent itself to the use of a full-time “hot seat” operator.

I asked the client a few questions:

  1. What percentage of potential jurors carry a smartphone?
  2. Of that group, how many have tablets?
  3. Of those people who are “connected,” how many will be impressed by the flash and professionalism of a skilled trial tech?

As you would expect, the numbers were high. It was obvious to everyone that if you are on a case and one side is using trial software, you have to match the other side or be left in the dust.

People expect to see technology in the courtroom, appreciate the effort if it is made, and do not understand if one side does not use it. If your opposition is using modern technology and you are using the overhead and drawing on flip charts, your message will be lost.

In this instance, we helped our client find a solution that did not permit the opposition to make it look unprepared and unprofessional.

Here are 10 good rules for using trial presentation software to the best effect. 

  1. Provide training. Make sure if you are going to use it, know how to use it or find someone that does. The software is designed to make your presentation effective and seamless. If you are not getting that result, bring in someone who can.
  1. Use the right tool. Sanction, TrialPad, TrialDirector (laptop or iPad), and OnQue are the top platforms today. Use the one that’s best for you. Ninety percent of trial teams that use this type of software use TrialDirector, simply because it works. This should not take away from the other platforms. Sanction has improved, and OnQue is the new kid on the block and seems to handle video much better than the alternatives. But comfort is paramount, so use the platform that is most comfortable to the one presenting. Remember, you are not the one running the presentation. They are there to support you.
  1. Know the court. Each court has its own rules. Sometimes a judge will not allow technology at all, and sometimes the technology built into a courtroom will not work because it is outdated, so know the court and their rules. For example, see 5 Secrets for Trying Cases in SDNY.
  1. Don’t procrastinate. Sometimes you have to make last-minute changes, but it’s always better to have your video clips, PowerPoint decks, and exhibits/demonstratives done early. Not just because you do not want your team putting these things together in the middle of the night just before trial but mainly because you need the time to practice. See, The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation.
  1. Run everything through and video record yourself to see how it all looks and works. This also permits you to build a level of comfort with your trial tech and allows you to see how the software handles your clips, decks, and images. Remember, you don’t need to be worrying about anything more then you already do.
  1. Build in redundancy. Everything in twos. Two machines, two switches, two of every cable, and sometimes two techs. This depends on the scope of the case, but a backup operator can be a lifesaver when a case lasts longer than three weeks. Life happens. Have someone ready to pick up the ball if somehow it gets fumbled. Anything can happen to a person or a piece of technology if you give enough time, so be ready with a backup.
  1. Either/or is a great concept. Trial boards, handouts, and physical models are still useful. Use them along with your modern presentation software. In court is not where you need to learn how to use them or which one works better.
  1. Make a key. Make sure you create a set of naming criteria to name everything you are going to use, and do not deviate from those criteria. This will allow everyone on the team to know where things are and to know where to look for that unscripted document/clip. Do not make it a hard key where they need to look in a book to find the location. Make it easy because then it is faster and it will make you look more professional.
  1. Think of part-time help. If you simply cannot have a tech there every day, one option is to have someone do it on certain days. Opening, the testimony of experts, or closing – the days that may matter most.

  2. Set hot keys. Most programs will allow you to set up hot keys or short cuts. Figure them out and use them. Three seconds is a lifetime when you are waiting for someone to show a call-out or even just bring up an image. It makes you look unprofessional and gives strength to your opposition.

Other articles from A2L Consulting focused on trial technicians, hot seat operators, and trial presentation software include:

trial technician trial technology courtroom technology consultants new york texas florida california boston virginia

 

Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Trial Director

Why We Blog (and Maybe Your Firm Should Too)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 04:10 PM

blog blawg storytelling inbound marketing lawyers content marketing attorneysby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

A new friend of mine had been the head of litigation at a Fortune 500 firm known for frequently being involved in litigation. He said something interesting to me earlier this week: “You guys put the best information out there. You synthesize litigation information better than anyone else. But does it translate into business for you?”

He said that last part with a bit of skepticism in his voice. That was an “aha” moment for me. I realized that I really haven’t talked much about how helpful our blogging has been to our business (and might be for yours), so I want to share some of the amazing facts about it.

A month ago, we celebrated our 7,500th subscriber who signed up to be notified of new articles in this Litigation Consulting Report Blog. In just four and a half years, we have gone from zero subscribers to 7,500. We have progressed from 800 visitors to our website each month to about 20,000. We've gone from a small handful of downloads from our website each month to about 2,000 per month. We've gone from a couple dozen published articles to more than 500. Even the American Bar Association has called our blog one of the very best. That is amazing, and I've shared most of that information in some form before.

Here's the most important piece I've never shared, and it's what I shared with my new litigation friend: Just about every business day, sometimes many times per day, someone asks about working with us as a result of reading something on our blog.

Five years ago, I thought a blog would be a neat way for us to show some thought leadership in the industry, but I didn't really think it would be a big business generator. I was wrong. The blog generates most of our business now, and I am more surprised about that fact than anyone.

Five years ago, we pulled in most of our jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology/courtroom hot-seat consulting work by calling prospects on the phone (repeatedly). Most of our competitors still do this. I just never believed that annoying people into buying from us was a good long-term strategy, and I think history has proven us right.

Our blog generates exactly the kind of business that we are great at. If someone reads our blog and enjoys it, it means they tend to think as we do as an organization. It means they are serious about winning and willing to do what it takes to win. They probably also have an understanding of the proven persuasive power of storytelling, of litigation graphics, of the rhetorical techniques we share with our clients and of the value of outsourcing some of these elements of trial preparation to experts. It self-selects the very best litigators who typically go on to win cases. 

So, I can't say that we blog for the money, but it is a very pleasant side effect. We blog because we love the work that we do. We live in the courtroom every day, and there are not many people like us. We love to share our message and hopefully to elevate the entire industry in the process.

A blog is the most classic and best example of inbound marketing – the type of marketing that is considered the best and most successful type in the Internet age. Inbound marketing focuses on creating high-quality content that pulls people toward one’s company and one’s services. By aligning the content that we publish with our customers’ interests -- through the blog, the articles that we write and other means -- we naturally attract inbound traffic that, over time, becomes our best source of new customers.

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Articles, Marketing, Business Development, blog

20 New Litigation Realities (to Celebrate Our 20th)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 @ 07:19 AM

litigation consulting litigation consultantsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Today is the 20th anniversary of the founding of A2L. We literally started in a closet not long after I finished law school. First, we were Animators at Law. Then almost five years ago, we became A2L Consulting to reflect the fact that litigation graphics were now less than half of our business. Jury consulting, trial technology support and litigation advisory services are now a bigger part of what we do.

Twenty years later, we're a national litigation consulting firm and arguably, the very top litigation consulting firm in the country. That's not mere puffery. We're consistently voted #1 in local and national legal industry surveys.

To celebrate our 20th, here are 20 new realities that litigators, in-house counsel and litigation support professionals should consider.

1. The New CLE: It is a rare CLE seminar that does not put us all to sleep. I think that modern formats of continued learning like our Litigation Consulting Report blog and other litigation blogs, including those recognized by the American Bar Association, are the best places to go for continued learning. It’s time for the legal establishment to agree.

2. The power of storytelling: The science behind the effectiveness of storytelling as a persuasion device is just now coming into view. It is critical for litigators to study this field and to understand the insights it has developed. See, Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed.

3. Big firm litigators rarely try cases: As a result of this new reality, litigators must get a new kind of help - help from trial tested litigation consultants. These courtroom experts may participate in 50-100 trials per year. It just stands to reason that they can help a litigator who is in court far less frequently. See, With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

4. Using PowerPoint incorrectly does more harm than good. Most lawyers will actually design slides for themselves that will reduce overall persuasion - but they don't have to. See, How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?

5. Juror expectations are on the rise: Jurors expect litigators to wow them a bit with graphics and to keep them interested. They know what can be done in the form of graphics and at a lower price than ever before. See, Will Being Folksy and Low-Tech Help You Win a Case?

6. The ability to test is on the rise: The often high price of mock trials scares off many, but almost every case deserves some form of testing. To make this possible, our firm and others have developed a wide range of testing methodologies that can fit every budget. See, Introducing a New Litigation Consulting Service: the Micro-Mock™

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7. Persuasive visuals are everywhere. From White House press releases, to the courtroom, to advocacy organizations, the world is waking up to the power of persuasive graphics. See, Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You

8. All filings use visuals now. It used to be incredibly rare to see persuasive litigation graphics used in court filings, but now it is commonplace. See, 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not)

9. Law firms will become even more like businesses: Law firm marketing, business development and PR were unheard of 20 years ago. Law firm pricing strategies are a new and emerging field. Yet all of these areas are normal functions of even small businesses. Increasingly, law firms will look more like businesses going forward, embracing more transparency and developing sales teams. See, 24 Things to Know About The "New Normal" of The Legal Economy

10. Courtrooms are more electronic, but there are not all there yet. We still bring equipment into most trials. There are many things you need to check with the court. And a great deal still depends on the predilections of the judge. See, Trial Technicians, Hot-Seat Operators and Trial Technology

11. The science of persuasion is real science. Neurological research has shown that particular regions of the brain are activated when a person is persuaded by an argument. New findings are constantly emerging. See, 8 Videos and 7 Articles About the Science of Courtroom Persuasion

12. For a small trial, you can use an iPad and TrialDirector (for free). It's not something you want to try in a document intensive case, but for a case with a handful of documents and just a few video depositions, this is now a reasonable strategy to consider. See, 5 Tips for Using TrialDirector and Trial Technicians Effectively

13. Mock hearings are routine. From mock Markman hearings, to mock Federal Circuit appeals, trial consultants can and do provide mock sessions that hone litigators’ skills and show them what to expect. See, 11 Surprising Areas Where We Are Using Mock Exercises and Testing

14. Graphics in depositions. We are increasingly being called upon to create demonstrative evidence to be used during depositions. See these deposition articles generally.

15. Animation is used selectively. Once, animation was the be-all-end-all of the demonstrative evidence industry. 3D animation at least is now only used in big ticket cases involving complicated mechanisms that must be seen from multiple angles or anytime we want a jury to experience "seeing is believing." See, What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples)

16. Animation is more PowerPoint than Pixar. These days, we create a lot of animation, but almost all of it is done in PowerPoint. Now, don't be fooled, you can do some pretty sophisticated work in PowerPoint now. Have a look: 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

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17. Voir dire testing is real science not gut instinct. There was a time when jury consultants were a lot of flash, bravado and gut instinct. Those days are now gone. Now, the great jury consultants let data based on testing speak about how best to conduct jury selection. See, 12 Insider Tips for Choosing a Jury Consultant

18. Judge expectations. Just as juror expectations have risen so have the expectations of most judges. They are not looking for CSI. Rather, they are looking for a much more efficient presentation of the evidence through the use of well thought through litigation graphics and even the design of ipad-compatible hyperlinked briefs. See, Hyperlinking Briefs: Be More Persuasive Using The iPad

19. The use of litigation consultants as coaches is on the rise. I know I'm biased, but if I were in-house, I would insist that my outside litigators worked with a firm like ours. With so much at stake and so few trials occuring, getting a third-party view of a case has enormous ROI in a big-ticket case. See, 25 Things In-House Counsel Should Insist Outside Litigation Counsel Do

20. Great litigation consulting firms endure, adapt and grow. Our firm was founded as an animation for lawyers firm, then it became a graphics for lawyers firm, then a litigation consulting firm (as far as I know we coined the use of that term in 1998), then a trial technology and litigation graphics firm, then a jury consulting and litigation graphics firm, and now our work advising in-house counsel about how to get great results from outside litigation counsel is taking A2L into new areas still. We'll keep adapting and growing, and I hope you'll join us in that effort. 

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, iPad, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Storytelling, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, CLE, Persuasion

Announcing The Trial Tips Podcasts from A2L Consulting

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 @ 09:42 AM

A2L PODCAST TRIAL TIPS LITIGATION DIRECTORYby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We have been publishing this blog for almost five years now, and we keep finding new and better ways to share our insights. Our free e-books are downloaded thousands of times per month, our webinars are viewed by hundreds, and every month, more than 200 new people subscribe to our blog.

Today, we're announcing a new way for you to benefit from our valuable free content about litigation and persuasion — podcasts.

As technology has advanced over the past 10 years, podcasts have moved from obscurity to mainstream. Briefly, a podcast is a type of digital media that is essentially a radio show that can be streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The term was invented in 2004 as a combination of the word “pod” for the iPod and the word “broadcast,” but podcasts can be accessed on any capable device, not just on the iPod.

Here at A2L, we are kicking of our new Trial Tips Podcast by introducing three long-format podcasts. Each is an audio version of one of our webinars. These are not just any webinars, but our three most popular webinars.

  1. Storytelling in Litigation
  2. 12 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said
  3. 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements

You can start enjoying this content right now for free by clicking here to access our podcast directory.

I hope that you'll leave feedback here or drop me a line. We're planning to dramatically expand our content offerings, including our podcasts, very soon.

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Podcasts

Can State and Local Governments Afford Litigation Consultants?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 @ 10:19 AM

state local government jury consultants graphics litigation consultants pricingby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Well, yes, of course they can. In fact, we are hired by them with some frequency. Let’s be specific.

Our firm is just about 20 years old, and while our typical client is a medium-sized to mega-sized law firm, we work with a government entity every month of the year. Usually, our work is on behalf of some entity of the federal government, typically the U.S. Department of Justice or some other agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

A typical large engagement for A2L Consulting would involve conducting several multi-panel mock trials that would help inform the development of litigation graphics, the jury selection, and the overall trial strategy. It would involve the development of litigation graphics for both sides of the case through the mock trial. It would also involve a full development of our side of the case, including the incorporation of storytelling techniques into the opening statement presentation. It would then involve a trial technician who would develop the database of video depositions and documentary evidence for instantaneous display.

This is not what a government entity hires A2L for.More typically a government engagement, whether local, state or federal, would involve a subset of one of our service areas. Instead of a large multi-panel mock trial, a focus group study or micro-mock is often used. Instead of a deep and protracted engagement with the development of litigation graphics over months, incorporating storytelling and opening statement practice sessions, often our engagements will be limited to either the development of an opening statement, practice sessions, or a consulting engagement to help incorporate storytelling techniques.

After all, some of the cases in which state and local governments are involved are high-priority matters, such as environmental cleanup, zoning, eminent domain, and employment cases, where millions of dollars may be at stake. We know that we can help clients like this, even though they may have a limited budget.

We've written before about how to save money when engaging litigation consultants. Sometimes, this involves asking the right questions. Sometimes, it involves understanding the most cost-effective ways to proceed. Sometimes, it involves communicating your budget to your litigation consulting firm, even if it is only $5,000, and asking what is possible. Something is always possible.

The articles below will help make you an expert in using litigation consultants in a cost-effective manner.

Other articles related to trial presentation services and cost saving tips from A2L include:

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Pricing, Advocacy Graphics

Join the Jury - NLJ's 2015 Best of Survey is Now Accepting Votes

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 @ 10:38 AM

 

best-of-the-national-law-journalby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

There are many annual surveys that help rank law firms, specialty legal training programs and legal vendors and consultants. The annual Best of The National Law Journal is the crown jewel of these surveys.

A2L Consulting is honored to have been nominated and voted best litigation graphics provider and best jury consultants in this and other polls many times before. By voting in such surveys, I believe we make our industry better by acknowledging those who contribute to it the most.

While I would certainly be thrilled, honored, and grateful it if you would vote for A2L on questions #58 and #61 in the categories of Best Demonstrative Evidence Provider and Best Jury Consultants, I think simply voting is very valuable for all of us. Here is a link to the survey that is only open for a little bit more time. Note, not all questions have to be answered, but you do have to click the "Done" button at the end. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2015BestofNLJ

These ALM polls are quite credible since they are reader-driven and since gmail and other free email services are usually excluded from voting. Thus, you get very good insight from your peers regarding who is the best of the best.

Just a couple of months ago, A2L was voted #1 or #2 in all three of our primary service categories - jury consulting, litigation graphics consulting and courtroom technology/hot seat consulting - by the readers of LegalTimes, a sister publication of the NLJ.

Categories being voted on this year are quite diverse and include not only those areas where A2L works but also other areas like crisis management, lawyer business development coaches, litigation valuation, cloud-based practice management, ADR providers and more.

On the national stage of big ticket trials, we only routinely bump into our competitors FTI Consulting, TrialGraphix (recently sold again and collapsed into RLM) and DecisionQuest. I'm glad to see these good firms are nominated along with a host of others. I have to confess that despite being in the industry for 20 years, I've not heard of many of the others, but I do wish everyone good luck.

A2L Consulting is nominated in 5 categories this year - vote now!:

  • Best Jury Consultants (#58)
  • Best Demonstrative Evidence Provider (#61)
  • Best Trial Technology "Hot Seat" Provider (#62)
  • Best Intellectual Property Consultants (#15)
  • Best End to End Litigation Consultants (#11)

I'm really focused on winning in the jury consulting and demonstrative evidence categories as these are the most important categories to our customers. Here is what the questions #58 and #61 look like (click the image to go to the survey now). The whole survey should take no more than 10 minutes.

best-of-the-national-law-journal-best-jury-consultants

best-of-the-national-law-journal-best-demonstrative-evidence-providers

Thanks for voting everyone. It makes the entire legal industry better in the process.

best of the national law journal A2L Consulting  

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Jury Consultants, Survey

5 Tips for Displaying Documents Well at Trial [CVN Video]

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 @ 03:45 PM

 

document highlight callout trial technology technicianby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Have you noticed how hard it is for lawyers at medium and large law firms to improve the way they try cases?

First, with so much pressure to bill hours, who has the time to watch a trial live and learn from it. Second, it's not like law school prepared any of us to try a case all that well. Third, there are other demands on a litigator's time such as the push to market and sell to new clients. Fourth, very few clients would be willing to pay a litigator to watch a trial even if it was similar to a client's case, involved opposing experts, was being tried by the same judge, or even if it involved the same opposing counsel.

Add to these points the fact that most litigators may only make it to trial once every couple of years, and you have to ask: How is a litigator supposed to learn to be a litigator?

CLEs? In-house training? Neither are all that effective. One might hope to watch trials on TV, but Court TV essentially ceased useful operations, and the trials that are televised are not normally being tried by America's best trial counsel.

So, in the spirit of improving the way cases are tried, I'm thrilled to make an announcement that I hope will offer one new method for litigators, whether green or veteran, to improve the way they try cases.

In partnership with the Courtroom View Network (CVN), starting today, A2L Consulting will begin publishing a series of articles that will use video collected by CVN, the premier provider of video in the courts, to help teach lessons and offer tips using real trials.

Today's video allows us to examine how best to use document callouts and how best to work with your trial technician. In the Wisconsin lead paint product liability case of Thomas v. Mallett, plaintiff's trial counsel uses highlighted documents to make a point during closing arguments (2-minute clip below).

Counsel is wise to rely on images of old documents to describe the appropriate standard for warning plaintiff about the dangers of lead-based paints. The age of the documents gives them more weight and suggests that the long list of defendants had ample notice.

Counsel is also smart to rely on another person to run the electronic evidence display for him. It's not clear whether the person is an experienced trial technician or part of counsel's staff.

Counsel is also smart to use highlighting on the documents as part of the trial presentation. It's not clear whether these highlights were made in Trial Director or were simply handled in PowerPoint. I suspect the latter.

There are a handful of areas where counsel could have improved how they displayed these documents. Here are five ways any trial attorney can improve the way they display documents at trial.

  1. Live Callouts and Highlights: In contrast to the video above, when possible, A2L's trial technicians prefer to create highlights and callouts live as shown in this video linked here focused on the use of Trial Director in trial and arbitrations. While this technique requires a skilled and experienced trial technician, the live highlighting gives the experience more authenticity, and I believe it draws jurors into the experience better than a canned highlight.

  2. Practice. Clearly a bit more practice with the trial technician would have led to a smoother trial presentation in the Thomas v. Mallett case. There is some unnecessary back and forth on the slides. Slides are shown out of order, and I'm not a big fan of counsel saying "next slide" unless they are way off script. I prefer a polished approach that is typical of high-end trial techs and litigators. See 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians and 8 Trial Technician-Related Tips for Midsized Law Firms.

  3. Don't Show Your Back. I don't think it is a good idea to turn your back on any audience to look at a slide and that certainly includes a jury. If A2L were handling the technology set up in the courtroom, we would have positioned a display so that counsel always knew which slide was being shown on screen without turning around.

  4. More Refinement. I would have considered a more polished look for the document callouts. There are many ways to handle a document callout at trial, and I think the approach used in Thomas v. Mallet case looks a bit cheap. Jurors today expect a high-tech approach not a small-town lawyer approach.

  5. Legibility. Some of the callouts have the text retyped and some do not. Unless it is advantageous to make text illegible, I generally prefer to see a retyped callout or one that is created live as described in #1 above. Furthermore, a pet peeve of mine is when someone creates a highlight by simply drawing a transparent yellow box in PowerPoint over the text being highlighted thus making it gray and harder to read. It's more work, but a professional litigation graphics firm like ours would separate the text from the background and layer it OVER the yellow box. This way you get clear dark text PLUS the highlight effect.

After a five-week trial, the jury found for the defendants in this case. Video from this trial and countless others can be purchased at CVN.

Articles related to using trial technicians, using document callouts and highlights and using trial technology that appear on A2L Consulting's site appear below:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Document Call-Outs

Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 @ 10:52 AM

 

trial tech not litigation graphicsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

At least once a week, I hear someone on A2L's customer relationship team say, "a litigator told me they already hired a litigation graphics consultant, but really they've only hired their trial technology consultant so far. How can we help them understand the difference between the two roles?" Hopefully, I can help clear up the understandable confusion somewhat in this article.

A litigation graphics consultant and a trial technology consultant are two entirely different roles. Perhaps because of the quick rise of midsize law firms in big litigation, we are hearing confusion more often than ever. Except in the rarest of circumstances, a good trial team should not try to combine the work in one person.

There is a stark difference between the work that trial technicians do, primarily the presentation of electronic evidence, and the work that litigation graphics consultants do, primarily designing demonstratives to teach and persuade the fact-finders.

Both are high-level tasks. Both can make or break a case. However, the work of litigation graphics consultants is centered around determining how to best tell a story, how best to present the evidence, and how best to persuade a judge or jury using just the right visual aids.

The work of a trial technician is largely centered around the effective and efficient presentation of digital evidence - both demonstrative and real. Trial technicians are in the business of using Trial Director and other programs to display documents and demonstrative evidence on call.

 

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

 

Most good trial technicians can use PowerPoint. However most trial technicians cannot do the kind of litigation graphics work in PowerPoint featured here: 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint. This work represents high-quality information art.

PowerPoint in the hands of a non-artist can be a very dangerous weapon as I wrote about recently in 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations. Trial Director in the hands of an artist can be just as dangerous. Just as not all lawyers are litigators, not all artists can run technology under pressure and not all trial technicians can make great art.

In rare circumstances, the two roles exist in the same person. However I think there are only a small handful of these talented people working in the industry right now, and they are charging hourly rates that are the equivalent of a good graphics person and a good trial technician combined. 

The kind of person who can understand a complex legal story and figure out how to present it to a lay audience is an entirely different personality-type than a person who can handle the methodical, rigorous and incessant demands of the hot seat. Trying to save a a few thousand dollars trying to combine the two roles in one person will almost always be harmful to your trial presentation.

You certainly want a trial technician who can use PowerPoint since they can make on-the-fly edits for you at the trial site or even in the courtroom. If you are trying to save money, you can often do so by avoiding the expense of an on-site artist, since a good trial technician can be a conduit to an artist working remotely.

Cases with more than five million dollars at stake normally require both roles to be filled by at least two different people. Typically, the work of the litigation graphics consultants begins months before trial. The work of a trial technician usually begins weeks before trial.

Whether it is the art of making great litigation graphics or whether it is the art of performing technological miracles under pressure, putting the wrong person(s) in the wrong seat(s) will result in bad art - and nobody likes that.
 

Articles and resources on A2L's site related to trial technicians, litigation graphics and PowerPoint:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Information Design

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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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