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Trial Consultants: Unfair Advantage?

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8 Strategies for Hurricane Sandy Litigation

by Ken Lopez Founder & CEO A2L Consulting 

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Litigation involving architecture usually involves some failure in the construction process, a dispute over lease terms like sight lines or common areas, an insurance claim involving an allegedly negligent design, or the responsibility for a building damaged in a natural disaster. Since most jurors are familiar with architecture to some degree, what usually has to be explained is the legal meaning of seemingly everyday terms, the process of design and construction, or the common customs of the architectural and construction businesses.  That's where legal graphics often enter the picture.

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Courtroom animation is often indispensable for the purpose of showing jurors how technical processes work, how scientific principles come into play in a case, or how a legal concept applies in practice. In addition, by applying trial consulting principles, litigation animation can also be used to keep a jury engaged and interested. Too often, when a case involves complicated technical issues, the jurors’ attention will wander, and even an excellent set of witnesses or a brilliant closing argument will not win the case, because the jurors just haven’t been focusing all along. Ray Moses of the South Texas College of Law made this point well in a comprehensive online guide to prospective criminal defense attorneys. “Modern day jurors - most of 'em are either geeks or baby boomers - receive and process information through increasingly sophisticated visual media. Every trial lawyer, particularly defenders, must learn how to use technology to engage the jury. The persuasive force and eloquent power derived from using visual and aural displays of information in electronic form, e.g., computer-generated exhibits, at trial simply cannot be ignored,” Moses wrote for the Center for Criminal Justice Advocacy. An excellent example is the highly complex legal concept of reinsurance. Not every lawyer knows what reinsurance is, and certainly most lay persons on juries have no idea. (It is insurance purchased by an insurance company from another insurance company as a means of transferring risk from the first company to the second company.) A juror, hearing the term “reinsurance” being bandied about at the trial, can easily conclude that this is something he or she can’t understand or make a judgment about and can thus close himself out to a lawyer’s arguments. Clearly, trial lawyers need a way to keep jurors engaged and involved when complicated financial transactions involving reinsurance are at issue in the courtroom. These cases can be worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to the client.  At Animators at Law, we developed a PowerPoint for a trial that helped make a specific reinsurance transaction easier to understand and that was intended to engage a jury’s interest. In this case, we wanted to show that “Washto,” a reinsurance company, had created a subsidiary into which it had placed many of its bad investments. It then transferred those bad investments to “Greek Re,” which had acquired Washto, thus saddling Greek Re with the bad investments.

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