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Top 10 Articles About Mock Trials

Our team has planned and conducted more than 500 mock trials over the past thirty years. In that time, we have noticed striking similarities in the way jurors behave. We have noticed that a trial team can radically increase the amount of valuable information they mine from a mock trial just by following a few best practices. We have seen over and over that a well-executed mock trial is the most valuable form of pre-trial preparation a trial team can do. In these ten articles listed below (our top ten all-time articles on the subject), we reveal many of A2L's best practices and insider observations. Whether you are planning a mock trial or just preparing for trial, the lessons from these articles are valuable and actionable. A mock trial is designed to mimic many aspects of an upcoming trial. The overall goal is to learn what motivates jurors, especially those similar to the likely jury, to view our side of the case in the best possible light. Many people mistakenly believe that a mock trial is designed to simulate an upcoming trial in order to predict the outcome. While there is certainly a predictive element, one cannot reliably simulate a two-month or even a two-week trial in two days. Instead, the highest value takeaways from a mock trial come from watching jurors deliberate, looking at the data behind the their decision making revealed by polling, preparing one's trial presentation earlier than one might naturally do so, getting into the mind of opposing counsel by arguing their case, and just getting some excellent practice in the run-up to trial. In a typical mock trial, 100 or more jurors may be recruited. Often a voir dire-like exercise is built into the mock and 36-48 jurors may be selected and broken into three or four juries who will deliberate separately. When a mock trial is deemed premature or the costs of conducting one do not match the dollars at stake in a case, we are often asked to conduct a smaller-scale exercise called a focus group (see How Early-Stage Focus Groups Can Help Your Trial Preparation) where a fewer jurors are used, and the format is more dialog oriented. I hope you enjoy these articles. Taken together, they offer an excellent primer on how and why to conduct a mock trial for the best possible result. 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said  12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials

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10 Timely Tips For Trial Preparation

Working at A2L, I have the distinct pleasure of watching many of the world's best trial lawyers prepare for trial. Most start months or years in advance. Those lawyers engage A2L early to do theme testing with a focus group or to organize and run a mock trial. Each of these events requires the creation of litigation graphics and usually assistance in developing an opening statement. Having watched so many great trial lawyers prepare for 25 years, I have been able to observe patterns in how they prepare. Below I share ten chronologically ordered tips (plus accompanying resources) based on these observations. If you're less than one year from trial, I hope these tips are still helpful, and I hope you will get in touch with me. More than one year from trial: There is no better time to do theme testing then when discovery is still open. Read more in How Early-Stage Focus Groups Can Help Your Trial Preparation and as you start this journey, always remember that Great Trial Lawyers Behave Differently. One year before trial: Plan your first of two mock trials. There are dozens of good reasons to conduct a mock trial, but forcing yourself to prepare early may be the very best one. Read my one-year trial planning guide and read A2L's Opening Statement Toolkit. Also, it is a good time to read A2L's Jury Consulting and Mock Trial Handbook. Nine months before trial: Begin or continue development of your litigation graphics. If you conducted a mock trial, you already have a good start. Read How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?, 10 Reasons The Litigation Graphics You DO NOT Use Are Important and The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation. Six months before trial: Refine your opening statement story and the visuals that will support it. Make sure your experts have their visuals being worked on by your litigation graphics team - not the in-house people at the expert's firm. Watch Persuasive Storytelling for Trial Lawyers and read Storytelling for Litigators. To help develop your experts, have them read this three-part series on How to Be a Great Expert Witness. Three months before trial: Conduct opening statement practice sessions with your trial team, litigation consultants, and your client. Read The First Version of Your Story Is NOT Your Best, 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation, and Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well.

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At A2L, we publish so many articles about litigation and trial preparation that I like to share the best of the best periodically.

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At A2L, we are either conducting or actively planning a mock trial 365 days a year. As you probably know, mock trials are a tool that is very often used by serious trial teams involved in large trials to help uncover the ideal strategy to win a case. In a typical mock trial that we conduct, over 40 jurors will be recruited in the trial venue through a rigorous screening process. We even incorporate expected voir dire questions into the process. Based on individual verdicts and backgrounds, mock jurors are carefully evaluated to create three or four panels of 10 to 12 mock jurors. “Clopenings,” combined argumentative opening/closing statements, are presented for both sides of the case, litigation graphics are used to support these statements, and videotaped witness testimony may be included as part of the presentation. Typically, real-time data collection methods using an Audience Response System (“ARS”) will be used, similar to the approve vs. disapprove line graphs shown on the news during election seasons. Deliberations are conducted. A focus discussion following deliberations is facilitated by our jury consulting and litigation consulting team members. All proceedings are typically observed through one-way mirrors or via closed-circuit TV, as shown in the included image. Watching the deliberations is shocking for most trial lawyers. Without the constraints of the law or internal consistency, jurors’ responses can seem inconsistent, irrational, inexplicable and thus, frightening and random. They are not. Jurors rarely understand the cases as much as hoped, and they follow predictable behavior patterns (see 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said). While their rationale may not match the lawyers’, there is a rationale to those willing to understand it from the jurors’ perspective. Finally, data are collected from the jurors, the results from the deliberations are tallied, and an oral and written report is presented to the trial team. This report includes specific tactics, both rhetorical and visual, that should be used at trial. We have written and taught about best practices for mock trials extensively. Some of those articles and webinars include: The 5 Very Best Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial 6 Good Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial 6 Ways to Use a Mock Trial to Develop Your Opening Statement 5 Ways That a Mock Trial Informs and Shapes Voir Dire Questions 12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Mock Jury About Litigation Graphics 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said How Early-Stage Focus Groups Can Help Your Trial Preparation Webinar: 12 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said - Watch Anytime Together, these resources provide an excellent manual for conducting a mock trial for an upcoming case. However, they don’t deeply address a trial team behavior I’ve seen show up in just about every mock trial our firm has conducted: The lawyers try to win – and I don’t mean fairly.

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A Surprising Lesson From Voir Dire

I get excited when I am called for jury duty. After all, my entire 25-year professional career has been focused on persuading judges and juries. Serving on a jury is a rare opportunity to get a view from the inside. It allows me to confirm everything I routinely watch in mock trials and have learned. For example, see 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said. When I get called, and yesterday was that rare day, I watch everything -- from how potential jurors are organized to the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of the pool, and every little choice the lawyers make, from clothing to tactics. Unfortunately, the fact that I am a litigation consultant always comes out during voir dire. The last time I was on jury duty, I made it through voir dire and served as foreman in a small traffic case. My fellow jurors said, “You know more about this than the rest of us, so you be our foreman.” That made sense to me, and I know myself to be a good facilitator of group discussions. It was all less formal and only five jurors were seated. Today was different. Thirty-six potential jurors were called for a 12-member jury. So I knew we were going to be facing a criminal matter. Ultimately, I was dismissed, but not before I had a chance to observe the process once again as a juror and to make some observations. Once voir dire began, I noticed that the prosecutor focused very heavily (probably too much) on potential jurors who had a connection with law enforcement and the legal industry. In the process, she exposed many government-friendly law and order jurors, doing herself a disservice. She also exposed me in a discussion around witnesses who lie – something that I had seen in a recent matter that A2L consulted on. Defense counsel put on an aggressive voir dire. She visibly angered many potential jurors by using deeply complicated hypotheticals and double negatives. Jurors turned against her, she invited many objections, and the judge ultimately turned against her as well. Her techniques exposed many jurors who were likely to be biased. However, her unapologetically brash approach distanced her from every juror. So, for the defendant's sake, I hope that her co-counsel is putting on the opening. This was not just my opinion. After being released, a group of 10 also-released jurors rode down in the elevator with me. They were abuzz with negative comments about defense counsel. I asked, so did she piss you off? The universal answer was hell yes. The lesson is that although there’s no question that it’s a good idea to weed out certain types of jurors, trial lawyers must never forget that they are dealing with human beings, not computers. It’s possible to antagonize the very jurors whose votes you need as early as the voir dire process. Don’t do anything that can stand in the way of building that fragile rapport that a trial lawyer needs to develop with the jury. Other free A2L Consulting articles and resources about voir dire, jury selection, being likeable, and more: 10 Ways to Lose Voir Dire Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said A Jury Consultant Is Called for Jury Duty 5 Questions to Ask in Voir Dire . . . Always 5 Voir Dire Questions to Avoid The Voir Dire Handbook | Free Download | A2L Consulting Jury Selection and Voir Dire: Don't Ask, Don't Know 7 Tips to Take “Dire” out of Voir Dire 10 Ways to Spot Your Jury Foreman 5 Things Every Jury Needs From You 10 Signs of a Good Jury Questionnaire 13 Revolutionary Changes in Jury Consulting & Trial Consulting Is Hiring a Jury Consultant Really Worth It? 12 Insider Tips for Choosing a Jury Consultant Do I Need a Local Jury Consultant? Maybe. Here are 7 Considerations. Who Are The Highest-Rated Jury Consultants? Webinar: 12 Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said  

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Many people are familiar with mock trials, which are full-blown exercises before a trial in which witnesses are presented and arguments made before mock jurors, who proceed to render a “verdict.” The results of mock trials, as we have discussed here before, can be extremely helpful to litigators who want to know how strong their case is, which arguments and testimony to pursue at trial, and which ones to forget about. As Slate magazine wrote in an illuminating article in 2005: Either side of a case can hold a simulated trial, and they're used in both civil and criminal cases. But because these productions can cost quite a bit of money, they're most often used by lawyers who represent wealthy clients or companies in a civil suit. First, the attorneys find a random pool of mock jurors in the jurisdiction where the trial will be held. Participants are selected by random telephone calls, classified ads, or through an employment agency. (Anyone who has recently received a summons to serve as a real juror is immediately disqualified.) Another technique that is perhaps not as well known is the early-stage focus group. These are far less formal than mock trials. They are a bit like brainstorming sessions in which jurors tell trial lawyers, often in real time, what they thought about a particular piece of evidence or a particular argument. Focus groups have several advantages: 

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Many times in a typical year, A2L is voted #1 in one of our service areas (jury consulting, litigation graphics consulting, and hot-seat/trial technology consulting) in reader-driven polls. Often these polls are conducted by major legal industry publications and sometimes by bar association publications. We don't announce all of our wins as honestly, I feel a little guilty writing about it. Yes, that sounds a bit like a #humblebrag, but I mean it. I, like all the other authors here at A2L’s Litigation Consulting Report Blog, work hard to create reader-focused articles -- not A2L-focused articles. We publish to engage with the world’s top trial lawyers in a way unlike anyone else. We publish to elevate the overall state of the industry. We publish because we authentically love what we do. Today, we're very proud to announce that the Massachusetts litigation community voted in the annual Massachusetts Lawyer Weekly reader survey and concluded that A2L was a top firm in both courtroom presentations and jury consulting. We are honored and grateful. With that announcement and explanation out of the way, let's make this article about you -- our 10,000 or so readers whom we value so much. Let's even do it in my favorite way possible -- using a list. The ABA said of our blog articles, “It’s hard to resist the infectious numbered-list headlines that keep us reading their chatty, first-person posts answering questions we hadn't yet thought to ask.” So here are the top five reasons why A2L being voted number one matters to you that are in no way about us:  These votes are helpful for your client relationship. It’s easier for you if a company is vetted already. As they say, nobody gets fired for hiring IBM, and the same is true when it comes to your litigation clients. Because A2L is regularly voted a top litigation consulting firm, you can make a recommendation to your client with total peace of mind. There is so much to worry about at trial. It’s nice to take one worry off the table by hiring a trial consultant that has this level of approval. This saves your client money. Taking the time to find the litigation consulting firm that’s right for your case is expensive to do well. This effort could easily cost the client thousands of dollars. Instead, you can present these options to your client: we can interview all the regular players or we can believe in the wisdom of the legal community. This saves you time in vetting. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly issued a helpful guide of top-rated firms like ours. It's a nice peer-reviewed guide that gives you insight into who the best people are. You can download that by clicking here.  You know that your peers trust us. At the end of the day, most of us trust our peers to give us good recommendations for everything from doctors to lawyers to handymen. The same is true for litigation consultants. Other free articles and resources related to A2L's jury consulting and demonstrative evidence consulting practices: Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important A2L Voted Best Jury Consultants & Best Trial Graphics Firm 3 Types of Litigation Graphics Consultants 11 Ways to Start Right With Your Litigation Graphics Team 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant 5 Settlement Scenarios Where Litigation Graphics Create Leverage 6 Triggers That Prompt a Call to Your Litigation Consultant VIDEO: Working with A2L Consulting - Customers Talk About A2L's Litigation Consulting Services 17 Reasons Why Litigation Consultants Are Better at Graphics Than Law Firms 10 Types of Value Added by Litigation Graphics Consultants The Real Value of Jury Consulting, Litigation Graphics & Trial Tech How Does a Trial Presentation Consulting Firm Do What It Does? With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now? 12 Ways in Which We Make a Boutique Litigation Firm Feel Like a Big Firm 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint 10 Things Litigation Consultants Do That WOW Litigators 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations FREE Webinar: Persuading with PowerPoint Litigation Graphics FREE Webinar: Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool 10 Things Litigators Can Learn From Newscasters The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make 6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid Explaining the Value of Litigation Consulting to In-House Counsel The 14 Most Preventable Trial Preparation Mistakes Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer) Law360 Interviews A2L Consulting's Founder/CEO Ken Lopez

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by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Every month, 1,000-2,000 free e-books and webinars are downloaded and viewed on A2L Consulting's web site. These free resources are likely the single best place on the Internet to learn how the best trial lawyers prepare for and win at trial. It's an exchange of litigation's best practices like no other. Judging by the topics searched for and read during the 100,000+ visits to A2L's website and industry-leading litigation blog so far in 2017, the legal industry is especially eager to learn more about voir dire, storytelling for persuasion (including visual persuasion), and jury consulting generally. Below are the top 10 free litigation best practice resources that have been downloaded and viewed so far in 2017. Choose your favorite(s) now, share this list with friends, and improve your results. Really, everything below is complimentary.    10. The Opening Statement Toolkit: In this 219-page book, you will find 66 articles curated from A2L's massive collection of posts related to litigation and persuasion. Each article relates to opening statements in some way.    9. Why Work with A2L: This free guide details how we think as litigation consultants and the value that litigation consultants provide generally. It's a useful tool to hand to in-house counsel to explain how jury, graphics, and technology consultants can contribute to winning a case.    8. Top 75 Articles of All Time: Our litigation consultants have compiled 75 expert articles on topics related to litigation support and litigation generally. This free book compiled the top 75 articles written in the first five years of our litigation and persuasion blog.    7. The Voir Dire Handbook: This one-of-a-kind and brand-new book will be helpful to junior and veteran courtroom practitioners alike. Because the composition of a jury can dramatically affect the outcome of the case, it is vitally important to get voir dire right and use whatever tools are available for doing so.    6. Using Litigation Graphics at Trial: In our most comprehensive e-book about litigation graphics and courtroom persuasion, A2L's jury and graphics consultants have compiled 74 expert articles in what is a first-of-its-kind book.    5. Tactics for Complex Civil Litigation: Whether you are a veteran trial lawyer or support trial teams, you will find this book valuable. This guidebook includes 74 articles about how to best to prepare and try a complex civil case for bench and jury trials.    4. How to Use Storytelling in Litigation E-Book: In our biggest e-book yet on courtroom storytelling, our litigation consultants have compiled 75 expert articles on topics related to litigation support and litigation generally.    3. How to Design and Use a Great Trial Timeline: This book is a must-have for anyone who prepares informative or persuasive timelines designed to influence and change what people think.    2. Using Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool at Trial Webinar: Whether you are in-house counsel, outside counsel, or litigation support, this 60-minute webinar plus 20-minute Q&A will improve your understanding and use of storytelling techniques during litigation. Led by seasoned litigator, Tony Klapper.   1. The Litigation Consulting Report Blog: Every month, 200 or more people subscribe to our blog. Six years into its existence, there are nearly 10,000 subscribers. You or a friend can subscribe free here, and you can control how often you hear about new articles (published 1x-3x/week) here.

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