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On this day sixty years ago, a 34-foot-tall Soviet rocket lifted off the Earth from a Cosmodrome in present-day Kazakhstan.  Its payload -- a shiny silver globe with four external antenna masts to broadcast a repeating radio chirp back to Earth.  The Soviets called it Prosteyshiy Sputnik 1 -- “Simple Satellite 1.” The world’s first successful orbiting satellite was tiny, just 22 inches in diameter and weighing 184 pounds.  But its “beep-beep -- beep-beep” signal was rebroadcast everywhere and easy to pick up directly by shortwave radio.  Sputnik could also be seen in orbit by the naked eye, the sun glinting off its polished shell.  In the moment a person first heard or saw Sputnik, they were catapulted into a new and different world.  For 21 days Sputnik circled our planet, captured our imaginations, reshaped American national priorities, and changed the order of our lives.  The Space Race began.  NASA opened for business one year later.  Within twelve years, Apollo 11 delivered two Americans to the Moon. Back to present-day Planet Earth.  You are a lawyer on a jury trial.  Opening statements begin tomorrow.  How will you capture the attention of your audience of jurors?  How will you get them to pay close attention, to focus on what matters most for your client?  Even the best storyteller struggles with this.  And to be honest, many trial presentations are, by their nature, not exactly heart-stopping.  Plan for that.  Find some element of the narrative that commands attention from the jurors, that challenges them to think deeply and to care genuinely about what is going on in that courtroom.  Capture the jurors’ attention in that opening statement, and you can have it again later, coming back to that moment when the story struggles to engage the listener.  Give jurors that moment they crave, that leaves them changed by something they just heard or saw.  Make jurors feel that the trial will make a difference in someone’s life, even in their own lives.  Mark the spot in the case that separates life “before” and life “after.”  Ask yourself, what is going to be your trial’s “Sputnik” moment? Other free A2L articles A2L and free webinars related to opening statements, storytelling, and being memorable at trial include: 6 Ways to Use a Mock Trial to Develop Your Opening Statement Free Download: Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed. 14 Differences Between a Theme and a Story in Litigation 25 Things In-House Counsel Should Insist Outside Litigation Counsel Do 5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements 7 Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 1 Why a litigator is your best litigation graphics consultant 6 Reasons The Opening Statement is The Most Important Part of a Case How to Structure Your Next Speech, Opening Statement or Presentation The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentation During Opening Statement 5 Things Every Jury Needs From You Is Hiring a Jury Consultant Really Worth It? Free A2L Consulting Webinar: 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements — Watch Anytime 12 Insider Tips for Choosing a Jury Consultant

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During the past three decades, I've heard many clichés about the legal industry. One of them is that companies hire the lawyer and not the law firm. I think this one is often still true, but, for the first time in my career, I am noticing that this cliché is no longer as applicable as it used to be. This change is happening both at law firms and at litigation consulting firms like ours. It's true there are some special lawyers out there, particularly trial lawyers. Many of them can be recognized by their first names only, like Beth, David, and Brendan. To be sure, these trial lawyers are extraordinary. They are the go-to lawyers for in-house counsel when the stakes are highest – among other things, because they win cases reliably, even when the facts are not on their side.

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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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It is unquestioned that technology has had a profound impact on our environment in the last couple of decades. Our brains are constantly adapting at a physical level to our environment, and research has suggested that technology has changed the way we perceive, remember, and process information. Not much has yet been said, however, about how technology has changed the ways in which jurors process information and the appropriate new styles that trial lawyers ought to use in presenting information to a jury. The growth of the internet, 24-hour television, and mobile phones means that we now receive five times as much information every day as we did 30 years ago. With the appropriate internet connection, technology allows us to access any information in less than a second. According to Internet Live Stats (2014), 88.5 percent of people in the United States are internet users. In addition, the internet has also changed the way we as a society process information. For example, when we read a book we do so linearly, from one sentence to another, but when using multimedia devices, we scan for keywords and grab small bits of relevant information. The internet has influenced people’s cognition in a way which they will now typically forego complex analytic thinking to get information quickly and easily. In other words, people allow the internet or even their smartphones to think for them. As a result, it is much harder to sustain attention, to think about one thing for an extended period, and to think deeply when new stimuli have been pouring in all day long. This is not to say that technology has negatively impacted our brain. Instead, the excess amount of information at our fingertips has changed the way we process large amounts of information and specifically, what information engages our attention.

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3 Types of Litigation Graphics Consultants

As you might expect, I think about the litigation graphics industry a good deal. It’s a fairly new industry, and it is undergoing constant change. The way I think about it, the industry is actually fairly small. There are perhaps three other serious national players that I would be mildly comfortable recommending when A2L is conflicted out of a case. Still, though, these firms are quite different from A2L, so a trial lawyer should expect an entirely different experience as a customer than with A2L. Most of our competition now uses the term “litigation consultant” that we first started using in the mid-1990s. In fact, we may have been the first to use it the term. However, this term means vastly different things from firm to firm.  At A2L, we use the term litigation consultant primarily to refer to attorneys on our staff with a creative expertise, trial experience, and an understanding of persuasion science who interface with trial teams to help: develop the visual presentation develop themes, narratives, and strategies for the opening statement work with our jury consultants to help test cases As one can readily discern, these people are truly trusted advisors. They add value as opposed to taking orders.

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by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Trial teams routinely spend tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, developing litigation graphics for a big case. They do this because litigation graphics are among the top five things that can affect the outcome of a trial. Over three decades and after thousands of conversations with trial teams about litigation graphics, I've watched some cases start off on the right foot and some on the wrong foot. That turns out to be critical. Frequently, the way an engagement starts between a litigation graphics team and a trial team will define the success of the engagement. So, here are 11 best practices designed to help your trial team get the first meeting (we call these meetings intake meetings) with your litigation graphics team just right.  Know your litigation graphics provider. There are two kinds. The first type is a true consulting or trusted adviser firm populated by litigators, jury consultants, and information artists. The second is really a group of order takers or trial technicians. How you behave toward each type of firm matters enormously. The latter type shouldn’t be considered for big-ticket litigation, so I won't further address how to handle them. Send the litigation graphics team the pleadings in advance. Great litigation graphics consultants can digest and synthesize enormous amounts of information. The sooner you send that information, the better. Time matters enormously. I don't think you can conduct a proper intake meeting in less than an hour. I've had some run eight hours. I think the right amount of time is probably about two hours. Advocate! This is a good chance for you to convince a group of people who don't know much about your case that you are right and you deserve to win. It's easy practice. 

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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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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.

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