<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1482979731924517&amp;ev=PixelInitialized">

The Litigation Consulting Report

NITA Experts Agree: Jurors Want Lawyers to Show, Not Tell

Posted by Tony Klapper on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 @ 04:43 PM

bored-jury-show-dont-tell-litigation-graphics.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We have written many times about the fact that scientific studies have shown that nonlawyers (who are the vast majority of jurors) tend to be visual learners, and tend not to be auditory learners or kinesthetic learners –people who learn by experiencing. Lawyers (who are the ones who present facts and tell stories to jurors) tend not to be visual learners and are often drawn from the ranks of auditory or kinesthetic learners.

Of course, this can present an intrinsic problem that we have discussed before. If most lawyers like to tell but not show, and our audience, the jury, prefers to be shown something and not to be told, we may completely fail to connect with our audience.

It’s not just psychologists and other students of human behavior who say so; it’s also people who devote full time to understanding trial advocacy. The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) is a fantastic organization that represents the “gold standard” of trial advocacy. In addition to putting on outstanding CLE programs for newbie and experienced litigators, NITA also publishes many great books from scholars who have thought long and hard about advocacy.

In a famous NITA publication, Modern Trial Advocacy, author Steven Lubet connects the obvious aspects of our daily lives with what we should be doing in the courtroom. He writes: “We are used to receiving our visual information from a screen . . . Why would any trial lawyer not want to provide jurors with the same graphic quality and medium that they experience in most other aspects of their lives?” Flip charts are fine, but carefully crafted litigation graphics might be better.

Another example comes from an ABA-published book recommended by NITA speakers and written by Steven Easton called, How to Win Jury Trials: Building Credibility with Judges and Jurors. Easton says something that may be obvious but still needs to be stated clearly. He writes, “We live in a picture-based society that is dominated not by words, but by television sets, video cameras, movie screens, computers and photo albums.” His implicit message? Don’t just tell, SHOW! It’s even more true now that so many people get their news from Facebook and turn to Instagram every day for photos. 

Finally, there is this NITA-recommended example from a well-regarded trial advocacy scholar, Thomas Mauet, and his classic book, Trial Techniques: “Studies show that learning and retention are significantly better if information is communicated visually.” No question about it.

So we need go no further than NITA publications or those recommended by NITA, which for 40 years have helped countless lawyers understand how to try a case simply by doing it in simulated fashion. NITA and its writers and thinkers, top trial lawyers all, agree that showing rather than telling is the way to go.

Other A2L Consulting free articles and free learning resources about litigation graphics, jury psychology, trial advocacy, storytelling and demonstrative evidence include:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Psychology, Storytelling, Persuasion

Why You Should Pressure-Test Your Trial Graphics Well Before Trial

Posted by Tony Klapper on Fri, Dec 16, 2016 @ 02:55 PM

trial-graphics-mock-trial-pressure-test-focus-group.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Quite often, law firms hire companies like A2L before trial to do jury research. That research usually takes the form of bringing in a mock jury, exposing the mock jury to the story that will be presented by both sides, and then engaging the mock jury in a single-day (and sometimes multi-day) focus group exercise to find out what aspects of the two sides’ presentations worked and what didn’t.

The central part of these mock jury events is the dueling “clopenings” that are put on by different attorneys from the trial firm – one embodying the narrative that the firm is planning on behalf of its client and the other representing the firm’s best estimate of what its courtroom opponents are planning to do and say at trial. A “clopening,” as the term suggests, is a combination of opening statement, evidence and closing argument that is typically used in a mock trial.

What many people don’t realize is that in addition to testing the plausibility and effectiveness of the narratives for each side, mock trials are a crucial way, indeed the best way, to test the demonstrative evidence that one intends to use at trial.

Testing the visual persuasiveness of the exhibits is very important. For one thing, it is a key step in the iterative process that creates better and more helpful trial graphics. Fine-tuning the demonstrative evidence before trial through a carefully planned series of assessments can only make the graphics more convincing. Subjecting the graphics to the thoughts of people who may be similar to the jurors in the jury pool is invaluable. For another, this procedure gives the mock jurors the opportunity not only to tell the lawyers which graphics worked for them, but also to suggest ideas for new trial graphics that can help illuminate the case. Mock jurors are likely to help identify “holes” in the set of demonstratives that can be filled in. They can do that because mock jurors are ideally situated to identify areas of confusion or gaps of knowledge that that graphics are well-suited to clarify or close.

Trial lawyers should always think of testing the arguments in the “clopenings” and testing the graphics as a single, seamless process. You simply can’t separate the evaluation of the narrative from the evaluation of the demonstrative evidence that is designed to support it.

Other A2L resources discussing trial graphics, litigation graphics, and using demonstrative evidence to win at trial:

pretrial trial graphics motions briefs hearings

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Jury Consultants, Persuasive Graphics

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

Is the Witness a Big Fat Liar, and Can the Jury Tell?

Posted by Katie Bagwill on Mon, Dec 5, 2016 @ 03:40 PM

witness-how-to-tell-if-lying-liar-deposition-trial.jpgby Katie Bagwill
A2L Consulting

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to learn, just from hearing a witness utter a few phrases, that the witness is lying? Unfortunately, we can’t read minds, so we need to make do with second best: reading the tone of the witness’s voice and eye movements.

The scientific community has been working hard to develop a way to gauge an individual’s truth telling based on the person’s behavioral, verbal, and physiological responses. In the meantime, you can use these ideas when questioning a witness, preparing your own witness to give testimony, and selecting potential jurors.

Vocal Cues. Using questioning methods similar to that of a polygraph, voice stress analysis is used to pick up on changes in the frequency in a person’s tone of voice when speaking. The basic idea is that when you are lying, the muscles that contract when you are speaking will produce a slightly higher or lower frequency. By having someone speak into a microphone, you can use a vocal stress analyzer on your computer or, thanks to technology, on your phone.

Why it should matter to you: Even if those tools aren’t available to you or would be too time-consuming to use, the basic principle is something you should keep in mind: lying causes physiological stress and stress causes a person’s vocal pitch to change. While a seasoned liar may be good at keeping his or her voice steady when lying, the average person (i.e. someone called for jury duty) could let it waver.

Eyeball Movements. There’s this idea floating around that if someone is looking to the right they are lying and if they look to the left they are telling the truth. While this isn’t necessarily always true, there is a science behind it. Research has been done that links patterns of eye movements to different forms of cognitive processing. Each direction notes the characteristics of the thought process in question (visual, auditory, emotional). The difference in sides refers not to just “lying” but to the cognitive processes used in creating a realistic story, which requires a higher level of thinking than recalling. (see also http://www.a2lc.com/eyechart)

Why it should matter to you: Take note of the witness’s or potential juror’s normal eye movements while speaking. Deviance from their “normal” is a stronger indicator of “creative” thinking than utilizing the eye movement chart alone. In combination with other methods of detecting deception, it is a useful tool.

Other articles about psychology, cogitive bias, persuasion, and influencing juries from A2L Consulting include:

A2L Consulting Voir Dire Consultants Handbook

Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Trial Consulting, Juries, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Psychology, Expert Witness, Witness Preparation

5 Key Lessons You Can Learn From Mock Juries

Posted by Katie Bagwill on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 @ 01:32 PM

mock-jury-focus-group-mock-trial-jury-consultants.jpgby Katie Bagwill
A2L Consulting

Watching a mock jury deliberate is a lot like watching Dr. Phil; there is a lot of arguing, and most of the “facts” end up skewed. Nevertheless, a mock jury’s conclusions and how they reach them are essential to any lawyer who wants to understand the weaknesses of his or her case. Here are some of my takeaways from observing this fascinating exercise recently.

  1. Be clear. If a point or idea you want to instill in the jury isn’t clarified enough, you will see it warped and interpreted wildly during the deliberations. During each mock presentation that I saw, the amount of attention paid and the volume of notes taken varied, but one constant seemed to be apparent: jurors want to feel as if they have all the information. Even if they don’t, once they have a firm opinion, they will use any of the “facts” they have to defend it. Naturally you want these facts to be in your favor, but for the sake of this exercise it is actually more beneficial to you for the stacks to be weighted against you. In order to improve, you need to know how you could lose.
  1. Be passionate but humble. It is important for the jury to feel empathetic toward your client, and for that to happen they need to connect with you. While presenting your case, you want to appear confident and informed without coming off as arrogant. Persuasion is all about presentation. One of the most important notes that our mock jurors made about one of our presenters was that he seemed “smug,” which made him seem sneaky, and it spiraled from there.
  1. Honesty is the best policy for your mock juries – by far. An important factor for an experiment, the mock trial, to be generalizable to the greater population, the entire jury pool, is that participants be honest in their answers. In our exercise, we had remote devices that each participant used to answer our questions, and we received feedback in real time. To set the stage of how they should answer the questions, a test question was asked, “Have you ever driven over the speed limit?” The expected answer would be “yes” across the board, assuming that all participants drive. However, in our group we had one “no” and one “not applicable.” The former had been unsure of “how serious it was” and apologized for not answering completely honestly, while the latter seemed to just be completely in denial. The idea that, “it doesn’t count because everyone else was doing it, but I was the only one caught,” is a dangerous mindset in a child and even scarier in an adult. With this experience in mind, you should remember not to put too much weight on any individual’s answer to one question, but rather look at the patterns of decision-making in the group.
  1. Ignorance is not bliss. The people who paid the least amount of attention during the presentations seemed to be the biggest talkers in the deliberation room. This would confirm the idea of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which less competent people believe they are more competent, and more competent people doubt themselves. This is a scary idea in theory, and even scarier in practice. Imagine you are being tried by a jury full of people who don’t really understand any of the facts of the case, but their “instincts” tell them you’re guilty. Unfortunately, these people don’t wear a sign around their necks professing their ignorance, and you’re just going to have to gather as much other information about their decision-making during voir dire as you can. In the exercise I observed, it was sad to see that there were a handful of participants whose bloated confidence in their opinions kept all opposing mock jurors silent for fear of being yelled into submission.
  1. Be prepared in advance. Once you’re selecting your jury or presenting your case in court, it is too late to start thinking about how you will keep the jury on your side. Using a mock jury will separate the “good” evidence in your presentation from the “bad” while you still have time to reshape your narrative.
      

Other A2L Consulting articles about mock juries, mock trials and jury consulting:

Jury Consulting Mock Trial

Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Psychology, Persuasion

7 Ways to Overcome Cognitive Bias and Persuade

Posted by Alex Brown on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 @ 04:50 PM

cognitive-bias-persuasion-a2l-litigation-consultants.jpgby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

I read an article today that can be applied to our industry so well that I thought I should apply its lessons. The article was written by Eddie Shleyner and is titled: How to Defeat Your Most Dangerous Writing Habit: 7 Ways to Lift 'The Curse of Knowledge'

The article highlights the concept of being cursed due to knowing too much. The issue refers to someone who has studied a subject so thoroughly that it becomes difficult to explain it to people who don’t know as much about the subject.

As an example, he discusses the book, Made to Stick, where the Heath brothers provide an example: “Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.”

Cognitive bias is what we are talking about. Shleyner notes that this is particularly dangerous to writers, since in conversation, a listener can ask questions to clarify the issue. But litigators, when giving an opening or closing statement, are in the same boat as writers since they are unable to ask or receive questions from their audience.

So, how can you defeat this curse? Ironically, more knowledge is the answer. The more you know about the curse, the less likely you will succumb to it and the more persuasive you will be. Let’s take a look at his seven best practices to combating this curse and apply them to our industry.

1. Know your audience’s base subject knowledge.

Jury Research. Focus Groups, Mock Exercises. Basically, you need to know your audience. Not only to know how they think, but why, what, who, where and the often forgotten wow. Learn how they think, learn the history to know why they think this way, but most importantly, figure out how to say it in a way that will wow them and be remembered.

Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom

5 Reasons Why Jury Consulting Is Very Important

Group Psychology, Voir Dire, Jury Selection and Jury Deliberations


2. Tone down your vocabulary.

cognitive-bias-synapse.jpgSpeak to the audience, not at the audience. A sure way to do this is to talk to them in a way that they will not only be able to understand, but also remember. Last night I was working on AP Psychology with my oldest (a junior in high school) and we were discussing the structure of the brain and the nervous system, specifically the identification of synapse gaps and the different interfaces.  I used the concept of roundabouts and how they connect roads. It fits but I did not consider the audience, since my daughter does not drive yet. My wife talked about soldering and it clicked since my daughter is doing that currently in her mechanical engineering class. Remember to speak “to” your audience, not “at” or “down” to them.

21 Steps I Took For Great Public Speaking Results

8 Habits of Successful and Persuasive Public Speakers

 

3. Tell a story.

At least 65% of your audience will be or consider himself or herself a visual learner. This means that they relate better and retain information at a higher rate through visuals or graphics. No matter how well you can paint a picture with words, the majority of your audience actually wants pictures. So that’s what you give them.

Litigators, Portray Your Client As a Hero In 17 Easy Storytelling Steps

6 Ways to Become a Better Storyteller

10 Videos to Help Litigators Becme Better at Storytelling

Storytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive

  

4. Ditch the abstractions.

Abstraction involves induction of ideas or the synthesis of facts into one general theory. It is the opposite of specification, which is the analysis or breaking-down of a general idea or abstraction into concrete facts. Basically, give examples that are concrete. Example:

ABSTRACT: Americans must be willing to protect our freedoms. 

CONCRETE: Voters must protect their Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches and seizures by calling or writing their representatives to protest the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. 

 

5. Provide examples.

Unlike abstractions, examples put concepts into perspective. In one of our cases involving alleged improper laddering transactions, the client was envisioning an abstract concept of showing a runner in a marathon jumping ahead and how in essence the opposition was intimating that this affected all the other racers in a way that was unfair or even illegal. We struggled with the concept because we could not guarantee that everyone who saw this would go down the same path and reach the same conclusion. Instead, we came up with the “dots” slide, which ended up appealing to the jurors’ sense of logic and was memorable.

ipo-class-action-dots-resized-600.jpg

As you can tell, this was done a few years ago, but it does not diminish the impact. Examples based on concrete concepts are usually more persuasive then abstract concepts.

 

6. Use visuals.

Bullet points are not visuals. Visuals reinforce the message and they are not meant to be redundant reiterations of what you are saying. Here are some good examples in these photos.

bullet-points-gates-jobs-bad-kill-bullets.jpg

12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad

The Redundancy Effect

Should You Read Documents Out Loud at Trial?

Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?

7. Get an outside point of view.

When we are creating images/graphics for the matters we are supporting, we always discuss it amongst ourselves, the clients, strangers passing by… pretty much everyone. Not because we are worried or just want to show off, but because the input is invaluable to get the most persuasive graphic for our audience to connect with and understand. Why would it be different when considering your opening, closing or witness interviews or cross. Get people together to hear and see what you are planning on saying. Use peers and A2L in a MicroMock so we can review the message, and how you are delivering it.

Introducing a New Litigation Consulting Service: the Micro-Mock

With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation

Other A2L Consulting articles and free resources about cognitive bias and persuasion:

how to persuade visually arguments persuasive graphics

Tags: Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Closing Argument, Persuasion, Cognitive Bias

[New and Free E-Book] Expert Witnesses - Direct and Cross Examination

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 @ 11:48 AM

A2L-IMS-EXPERT-WITNESS-TESTIMONY-TALL.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We at A2L are launching a new e-book this month. This time, we are publishing the book jointly with IMS ExpertServices, one of the nation’s premier providers of experts and consultants for top law firms and Fortune 500 corporations.

The title of the new book is Expert Trial Testimony: Direct and Cross-Examination. The book answers every question you might have thought of in connection with expert testimony at trial in U.S. courts, and it does so in a clear, conversational manner. Plus, it’s a free download.

As more and more money is at stake in civil trials, and as the subject matter grows more and more complex and difficult for many jurors to understand without assistance, the value and importance of expert witnesses has grown dramatically.

The difference between an effective, well-prepared, convincing expert witness and one who does not come across well to a jury can often be the difference between winning and losing a trial where hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars are at stake.

The book is directed at experts themselves and gives dozens of do’s and don’ts that will make any expert’s testimony effective and convincing at a trial. It’s not only experts who will benefit from reading this book but also trial attorneys, trial technicians, in-house counsel, and anyone who wants to understand the best ways to put on expert testimony.

The book addresses the typical expert witness as follows:

You have read hundreds, if not thousands, of articles in your field. You likely have an advanced degree that touches on the area about which you have been asked to testify. You may have taught classes on the relevant subject matter at a university. You may have presented your thoughts and research at conferences attended by your peers. You are smart. You are well-credentialed. But are you prepared to testify in a court of law? Do you know what you have to do to be just as effective on the witness stand as you are at the podium?

Among the key topics in the book are:

  • How an expert can explain complex scientific topics in language that a juror can understand without “dumbing down” her testimony
  • Why pictures, schematics and visuals of all sorts are as important to an expert witness’s testimony as the words he uses
  • How an expert should prepare for the toughest questions on cross-examination, including questions that the expert might view as unfair
  • How to deal with a “yes or no” question and avoid the pitfalls that such a question usually brings with it
  • How an expert should use body language to help, not detract from, the quality of her testimony

We think this book will be invaluable to expert witnesses, lawyers, trial techs, in-house counsel, and others. Please download it here.

 

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Jury Consultants, Expert Witness, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Judges, Cross Examination, Persuasion, ebook

The 10 Top Free Trial Lawyer Resources of 2016

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 @ 03:57 PM

best litigation ebooks webinars cle for trial lawyers of 2016by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

As we approach the end of 2016, I'm reviewing the many free resources that have been viewed and downloaded from A2L Consulting's extensive litigation-focused website this year. From podcasts to blog articles to free downloadable e-books to free webinars, we have given back this year to the trial community more than ever.

Our blog has been accessed 250,000 times, our 20+ free e-books have been downloaded tens of thousands of times and more than 1,000 new subscribers have signed up for a free litigation and persuasion-focused blog subscription in the past year.

To help sort through all that data and information and focus on just the best content and resources, here are the 10 items, all completely complimentary and without additional obligation, that saw the most intense attention this year from the litigation industry's top players.

  1. free litigation ebooks for trial lawyersVisits to A2L's free resources (podcasts, e-books, webinars etc.): This central set of resources allows visitors to our site to direct themselves to the information they most need.




 

  1. ryan-flax-a2l-litigation-consultants-webinar-recorded.jpgStorytelling for Litigators Webinar: The science of using storytelling for persuasion is in its nascent stages. This webinar explains what is now known and how to best use storytelling techniques to influence other people’s thoughts and conclusions.

 



  1. a2l-patent-litigation-consulting-4th-toolkit.jpgThe Patent Litigation Handbook 4th Edition: During A2L's more than 20 years in business, intellectual property cases have represented nearly half of our total work. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when we want to update one of our handbooks, we often turn to our patent litigation handbook. It’s a perennial winner.

 



  1. a2l-consulting-voir-dire-consultants-handbook-cover-drop.jpgThe Voir Dire Handbook: I'm surprised by how popular this book is, but voir dire continues to be one of the most searched for terms on our site. We routinely help support trial teams during jury selection and conduct mock exercises that have a voir dire component.

 




  1. complex-civil-litigation-ebook-free.jpgComplex Civil Litigation Handbook: This book is a necessity for anyone who enters civil courtrooms, develops theories for civil cases, or works on complex civil litigation.










 

  1. trial-timeline-ebook.jpgTrial Timelines E-Book: Used in almost every case, timelines are an essential communication tool. If you think that a timeline is simply a date bar with topic flags, this book has a great deal to teach you about this valuable concept.






 

  1. storytelling-and-persuasion-for-litigators.jpgStorytelling for Litigators E-Book: This book and its prior edition has been downloaded thousands of times.

 







  1. expert-witnesses-how-to-answer-questions-deposition-cross-1.jpgThe Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses: No matter how well prepared a witness is, he or she can face a tricky question or a trap planned by opposing counsel. This article identifies 14 of those common situations and the best strategies to foil these tactics.

 




  1. best-voir-dire-questions-to-ask-mock-trial-federal-court-1.jpgFive Questions to Ask in Voir Dire . . . Always: This blog article originally published in 2013, has been read nearly 20,000 times this year alone.




 

  1. litigation-consulting-report-blog.pngOur litigation blog, The Litigation Consulting Report. Now, every year, more than a quarter-million visits are paid to our blog. It's been named a top litigation blog by the American Bar Association, The Persuasive Litigator, Cogent Legal, Justia, LitigationWorld and many other organizations. Why not claim a free subscription here or share one with a friend?






Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, E-Book, Demonstrative Evidence, Webinar, Litigation Support, Patent Litigation, Voir Dire, Storytelling, Timelines, Podcasts, blog

One Possible Pitfall in Telling a Story at Trial

Posted by Tony Klapper on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 02:56 PM

bad storytelling jury pandering talking downby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We have always emphasized how important it is for a trial lawyer to organize his or her case so as to tell a consistent and convincing story to the jury or judge. In making that recommendation, we draw on experience and common sense, as well as on science that indicates that human beings are wired to follow intriguing stories and to look forward to their ultimate resolution.

“Storytelling is essential to winning trials – and that goes for mediations, arbitrations, and hearings, literally anywhere you must connect with an audience,” we have written. “Whether it’s your story or not, a story will inevitably emerge during a trial. Mock trials and focus groups have repeatedly shown that when a jury has two camps representing the two sides of the case, each camp will have a fairly consistent story that it endorses and clings to. Consistently, we find that those stories are short, that they fit with common sense, that they borrow some of the salient facts from the trial, and that they are complete tales, with a beginning, a middle and an end – including what happened and what should have happened.”

A story removes a case from the realm of the strictly legal and makes it personal. It humanizes one’s client and helps a jury identify with the client. But can storytelling go too far as a technique of persuasion?

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to meet with several lawyers at an outstanding law firm that is known for its trial expertise. One of the partners raised an interesting issue with me: Can the process of storytelling at trial cross the line into pandering, a contrived appeal to a jury’s emotions that ultimately causes the lawyer to lose credibility? In discussing ways that a story can be told effectively, I had given the example of a case on which we had worked with a client with a remarkable personal story; the client, who was Jewish, had barely escaped Nazi Germany and had built a successful business. This bit of history was not directly relevant to the claims in the case. Did we go too far in focusing on it?

That’s a very valuable question, and there’s no clear answer. It’s a matter of human emotion, so the answer is that it depends. I recommend that when there’s any question of perceived pandering or manipulation, you should “pressure test” the story in advance with some thoughtful people. They could be members of a mock jury, or simply one’s spouse, friend or co-worker. How does the story sound? Does it make the complex legal dispute come to life, or does it talk down to the jury in a way that will turn the jury off or even cause them to resent the client or even me the lawyer?

You as a trial lawyer may fall in love with a story, but that’s not the last word. A jury may see it as manipulative even if that’s the furthest thing from your mind. So test your stories in advance. Your credibility may depend on it.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to storytelling in the courtroom, what makes a great story, and persuading a judge or jury include:

A2L Consulting's Storytelling for Litigators 3rd Ed E-book

Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Jury Consultants, Storytelling, Persuasion

5 Reasons Why Jury Consulting Is Very Important

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 03:45 PM

iStock_50484796_SMALL.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

When I was a practicing lawyer, trying high-stakes cases in the major law firm world, many of my colleagues would often cast doubt on the need for jury consultants and mock trials. They would say that as experienced trial lawyers, they already had a good feel for a jury and for the art of persuasion. In addition, lawyers would argue that very few reliable conclusions could be drawn from the attitudes and outlooks of a small number of mock jurors. Actually, this is a rather short-sighted way to approach the topic. A jury consultant can add immeasurable value to a trial team’s efforts in any number of ways. Here are five of them: 

  1. Theme development. Working with a mock jury provides invaluable research into what themes will work with the actual jury and what themes will not work. The mock jury will get a chance to hear several proposed themes for your side, as well as the way in which the opposition can be expected to rebut those themes. Interviewing the mock jurors will shed considerable light on what works for them, emotionally, and what does not.
  1. Message clarity. Many lawyers on a trial team get lost in the weeds and develop countless lines of information without any concern for whether they contribute to their side’s main narrative. It is very easy to review documents for their own sake without any consideration of why they should care about the documents. A mock trial will force all those attorneys to focus on the facts that really matter to their case and will provide the needed discipline.
  1. Development of visuals. A mock trial is a trial run for your visuals as well as for your theme development. It’s a way of “pressure-testing” the litigation graphics that your side has planned to use and seeing if they work in the real world. Ask your mock jurors whether or not the proposed visuals did enough to make the complex ideas of the case easy to understand for a nonlawyer. If they jurors are still perplexed about your case, they will tell you that in no uncertain terms. Be prepared to ditch the graphics that you have been using and to develop different ones, or to add new ones.
  1. Juror attitudes. After a mock trial, you will have a much better idea of what kinds of people are not going to be good jurors for your side. By interviewing the jurors after the mock, you will get a sense of whose world view will fit in perfectly with your message and whose view is quite the opposite to your message. You will never have a real jury that’s 100 percent on your side, but a mock trial will help you increase that percentage. Those jurors who see the world the way you do can and will be your “advocates” on the jury during deliberations.
  1. Support for your recommendations. Sometimes you as a trial consultant will have some difficulty getting your client to accept your view of the case. A mock trial can provide the support that you may need. A mock jury is another set of eyes that will evaluate your case independently and may see things the way that you do. In any case, a mock trial is a good way for everyone on your team to park their egos and listen.

Articles from A2L Consulting about jury consulting, mock trials, litigation consulting, and trial consulting: 

Jury Consulting Mock Trial

 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Jury Consultants

Confidential A2L Consulting Conflicts Check Form

Join 8,900 Subscribers and Get Notified of New Articles Every Week

Watch Now: Persuading with Storytelling



Free Litigation Webinars - Watch Now

ryan flax a2l litigation consultants webinar recorded


patent litigation webinar free litigation graphics demonstrative

Featured E-Book: The Patent Litigator's Guide to Trial Presentation & Trial Preparation

patent litigation ebook 3rd edition

Featured Free Download: The Complex Civil Litigation Trial Guide

a2l consultants complex civil litigation trial guide download

Free Webinar - Integrating Expert Evidence & Winning Arguments - Watch Anytime.

expert witness teach science complex subject courtroom webinar

Nationally Acclaimed - Voted #1 Jury Research Firm and #1 Demonstrative Evidence Firm in the U.S.

voted best demonstrative evidence consultants

A2L best demonstrative trial graphics consultants
best demonstrative evidence litigation graphics consultants

Download the (Free) Storytelling for Litigators E-Book

describe the image

Considering Using a Trial Technician at Your Next Trial? Download this first.

trial technicians trial technology atlanta houston new york boston virginia

Featured Free Download: Using Science to Prevail in Your Next Case or Controversy

using science to win at trial litigation jury

Featured FREE A2L E-Book: Using Litigation Graphics Persuasively

using litigation graphics trial graphics trial presentation consultants

Free Jury Consulting & Trial Consulting Guidebook for Litigators

jury consulting trial consultants guide

Timelines Appear In Most Trials - Learn how to get the most out of using trial timelines in this ebook

trial timelines graphics consultants litigators

Featured Complimentary eBook - The 100-page Antitrust Litigation Guide

antitrust ebook a2l litigation consultants

Featured Complimentary eBook - Leadership Lessons for Litigators and Litigation Support

leadership lessons litigation law firms litigation support

Featured E-Book: The Environmental Litigator's Guide to Trial Presentation & Prep

environmental litigation trial presentation trial prep ebook a2l

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.

Articles by Category

Follow A2L Consulting

Member Red Well Blog
ABA Blawg 100 2013 7th annual

Follow Us on Google+

A2L on Google+