At A2L, we publish so many articles about litigation and trial preparation that I like to share the best of the best periodically.
At A2L, we publish so many articles about litigation and trial preparation that I like to share the best of the best periodically.
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.
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
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:
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
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.
Law360 is a top legal industry publisher owned by Lexis-Nexis. Its daily newsletters are a must-read for trial lawyers involved in big-ticket litigation. This interview, Trial Consultants Q&A: A2L Consulting's Ken Lopez, was originally published on April 28, 2017, and is reprinted here with permission. Links to A2L articles and resources have been added by A2L in this reprint. Q: What aspect of trial consulting do you and your firm specialize in? What is unique about your firm, compared to other trial consulting firms? A: Founded in 1995, our firm is a leading national litigation consulting firm that helps trial lawyers and other advocates more reliably win complex and high-dollar disputes. We are typically in trial year-round and deliver world-class client-pleasing results in three key service areas: jury research and consulting, litigation graphics consulting, and trial technology consulting. We have recently been voted #1 in each of these categories by major legal publications. The composition of our leadership distinguishes it from other trial consulting and litigation consultant firms. Unlike firms whose origins are rooted in the trial technology business, the engineering business or the marketing/public relations fields, our team is composed of experts in the persuasion sciences. These include former litigators from top law firms, attorney-artists and social science Ph.Ds with decades of experience working with judges and juries. We primarily serve AmLaw 100 law firms and their clients. However, the firm regularly works with boutique law firms and in-house departments. It counts amongst its clients nearly all top law firms and a large portion of the Fortune 500. Most people find A2L through its litigation and persuasion-focused blog, The Litigation Consulting Report. It has nearly 10,000 subscribers and was named one of the top ten blogs in litigation by the American Bar Association. Q: What was the most interesting or memorable case that you worked on? A: The average case at A2L Consulting is a business dispute between global companies with $100 million at stake where we provide jury consulting, a mock trial, litigation graphics, and courtroom hot-seat trial technology support. One of our most memorable cases was entirely — not average. Through a top trial lawyer, we were hired to work on behalf of a surviving family member of the 1996 crash of ValuJet Flight 592 in the Everglades. This was not a plane that exploded or quickly crashed. Instead, oxygen containers in the cargo area helped fuel a fire that caused smoke to fill the plane. Then, the oxygen-fueled fire burned through the passenger cabin floor from below. After some time, controls on the plane were destroyed by the fire. Then, the plane flipped and dove into the Everglades below. No one survived. It took a long time for the tragedy to unfold and the passengers had awareness of what was happened. We know this because the plane was equipped with recording devices in both the cockpit and the passenger cabin. The recording is confidential, but none of us who worked on this case will ever forget what we heard on that recording. To help the jury visualize the experience the passengers had, we could have created a 3-D animation to show what the experience inside of the cabin was like. Instead, we synced that chilling audio with an animation we created that helped tell the tragic story. Once the animation was admitted into evidence, the case quickly settled. Q: Which stage of the trial process is the most challenging, and why? A: While we support all phases of litigation from prefiling to appeal, our firm most often focuses its consulting efforts on the opening statement. Indeed, we speak and write about opening statements often. Perhaps second only to jury selection, the opening statement can make or break an entire case. It provides the framework and narrative upon which the judge or jury will hear the evidence. For many, consciously or subconsciously, the decision about the outcome of the case will be made during opening statement. Because the opening statement is so critical, the best trial lawyers expend enormous amounts of effort preparing for openings. I’ve seen some trial lawyers practice their opening more than 100 times over the course of a year. Not surprisingly, these trial lawyers tend to win their cases. In every type of litigation consulting we provide, the opening statement is a central focus. When we conduct a mock trial, the attorneys present their openings to mock jurors or mock judges. When our senior litigation consultants work with top trial lawyers to refine their trial presentation, we ask them to present their openings as part of that process. When we design a PowerPoint presentation for opening, we ask our clients to do run-throughs of openings. When we introduce one of our trial technicians/hot-seat operators to a trial team, we ask the first chair to practice opening statements so they develop a rapport with the trial tech. Indeed, sometimes, we are asked to draft an opening statement as part of our litigation consulting effort. Opening statements are the most challenging part of the trial process because they should be. Cases are regularly won and lost because of them. Q: How has trial consulting evolved over time? What major differences are there between the industry when you started and the industry now? A: Our firm, now a national litigation consulting firm with jury consulting, litigation graphics consulting and trial technology consulting practices all voted #1 by the legal industry, was started as Animators at Law, an animation and litigation graphics firm for trial lawyers focused on persuasion. Back in the mid-1990s when we started our firm, the idea of using demonstrative evidence/litigation graphics during a trial was new. Today, no serious trial lawyer would go to trial in big-ticket litigation without litigation graphics and nearly all would hire a litigation graphics consulting firm like ours. When we started our firm, PowerPoint did not exist. Most litigation graphics were printed trial boards. Today, trial boards are used as unique emphasis tools that supplement a PowerPoint trial presentation. The practice of jury research has changed too. It has evolved from a guru-dominated practice where gut instinct drove many decisions. Today, there is more scientific rigor among top jury research firms. They let the data speak for itself and supplement that data with advice based on experience. Of course, the trial technology practice has radically changed. In the 1990s, it barely existed. Now, the complexity of cases demands that an experienced trial technician/hot-seat operator run the technology, show the trial presentation and be ready to pull up evidence on a moment’s notice. Q: What are some of the biggest challenges when working with attorneys and their clients? A: One of my colleagues likes to say, “they call it the practice of law, but nobody is practicing.” I agree wholeheartedly. If I could change one thing about the way trial lawyers prepare for trial, it would be the way they practice. The correlation between open practice in front of peers and winning cases is unmistakable. Half of the time, trial lawyers practice extensively and seek feedback from litigation consultants and colleagues. These lawyers tend to win their cases. When we see a trial lawyer who wants to privately prepare their trial presentation on the eve of trial, we worry. It’s not that this approach can’t work. It often does. Instead, we simply recognize that the more a trial team openly practices, the more often that trial team wins.
by 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.