by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting In 20 years as a litigation consultant, I’ve personally seen hundreds of litigators try cases, and I have heard the observations of my colleagues on other cases, probably amounting to thousands of cases in all. So I’m in a pretty good position to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work, based on a non-scientific study of trials and trial teams.
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting In our role as trial consultants, we frequently work with some of the top law firm litigators in the nation, as well as with in-house counsel for some of the nation’s major companies. Ideally, we form a cohesive team that works seamlessly to provide outstanding trial representation and to win cases. Occasionally, we find that law firm litigators are engaging in bad habits that can increase inefficiency, cost the client money, and decrease the chances of winning at trial. Here are seven of them. 1. Lawyers designing PowerPoint slides. Anyone who went to law school can of course use PowerPoint. Generating PowerPoint slides is not difficult, and lawyers are smart. Many lawyers can even make PowerPoint slides that look nice. But: a. It's not about pretty slides, it's about effective slides, and the rules for how to create those take years to learn. See Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest b. A lawyer doing slides costs the same or more per hour than a litigation graphics expert doing slides. Classically, you could cut your own hair, but why would you? See How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time? c. A lawyer creating slides does not know the tricks of the trade. See Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer) d. A lawyer creating slides will likely tell a chronological story instead of an effective story. See Don't Be Just Another Timeline Trial Lawyer e. A law firm might claim to have in-house litigation graphics expertise (See 13 Reasons Law Firm Litigation Graphics Departments Have Bad Luck). But ask yourself: How many trials does that law firm do per year? For even the largest firms, that answer may be a couple dozen. How many cases does that lone artist work on? A small percentage of what is already a small number? Contrast that with a litigation consulting firm with graphics expertise that might do 50 or 100 trials per year concentrated among a handful of key staff. See With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting I've seen litigator ego contribute to the winning of cases and the losing of cases. Unfortunately, however, I've seen more cases lost because of it than won because of it. What do I mean by the ego of a litigator? If you've worked around litigators (or litigation consultants for that matter), you already know what I mean. For anyone else, I'm referring to all those first-chair litigators in trial-related situations who put themselves ahead of the client's best interests. The best definition I have found of “ego” is "the idea or opinion that you have of yourself, esp. the level of your ability and intelligence, and your importance as a person." In litigation, we see how ego can play both good and bad roles. Sometimes the presence of ego leads to good outcomes, as it is at least in part ego that allows a litigator to ignore the advice of a client who may be too close to their problem. More often, however, we see ego show up in ways that are counterproductive for the client. For example, in situations where:
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting There is a lot to learn from data, and these days data is everywhere. For better or worse, data can be available for everything from the number of steps you walked today to how long you took to read a particular Web page. I recently took the time to assess how the AmLaw 100 law firms were interacting with our site, particularly with the articles on this blog. Some law firms are very active, and some hardly visit at all — and I think this information tells us a great deal about these law firms. This data is interesting to me for many reasons. First, I’m interested in making sure that our articles appeal to the AmLaw 100 law firms, as just about every one of them has been a client of A2L Consulting at some point. However, I’m also interested in what the data says about the law firm itself. Is the firm interested in learning? Is it serious about litigation? Is it set in its ways?
by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting We publish a lot of articles on this blog here at A2L Consulting. Sometimes we publish so many that it’s not easy to decide which ones to read first. That's why once a quarter we do a mini-retrospective of the best articles based on what our readers choose to look at. Our theory is that the more people that read an article, the more compelling and the better it is. All these articles relate in some way to persuasion: Why expensive-looking litigation graphics are better than inexpensive-looking ones, why you are less persuasive when you are using clichés, how people obtain trial experience these days when most cases don’t go to trial. We think this also helps our readership sort through the very best of our content by relying on the votes of 6,600 fellow subscribers as indicated by their reading habits.
by Alex Brown Director, Operations A2L Consulting How do you determine value? This weekend, while my oldest child was in Boston at a gymnastics meet, we thought this would be the perfect time to “renovate” her room back home. My youngest daughter wanted to help but also wanted to negotiate her fee to do so. I came up with many reasons for her to find value in helping: the good of the family, experience, and enjoyment, but none of these provided the proper balance of cost and value to her. Finally I told her that she will be able to destroy something that belongs to her big sister, without any concern for retaliation. This brought her on board, and in the end she not only loved it but she also had the added benefit of being able to tell her sister how much fun it was to destroy her room and how destructive the work needed to be. As litigators, you have a similar job of having to persuade your client about, say, the importance of using expert witnesses or the need to bring on a litigation support team. This is always a delicate conversation because there are so many factors in play; emotions, money constraints, and inexperience, to name a few. For years, the use of expert witnesses has been an easy sell for the most part. But the importance of litigation support (i.e. theming, visual presentations, trial technology/hot seat operators, and mock trial exercises) is not universally accepted, so it can be more of an uphill struggle to convince clients of the need for these things and even harder to persuade them of the value. But why? It’s clearly not the cost, since that normally runs anywhere between .5 percent and 5 percent of the legal fees in a big case. So the sticking point is the need for these services.