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The Litigation Consulting Report

9 Reasons Litigation Consultant is the Best Job Title in Litigation

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 @ 03:39 PM

litigation consultant trial consultantby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I am very proud of A2L Consulting's role in the creation of the job title "litigation consultant." Over the years, this position has evolved somewhat, but it remains substantially similar to the way we designed it in the mid-1990s.

Back then, it was my full-time job. Today, I still get a chance to do parts of it now and then, and after 20 years, I believe it's the best job in litigation.

The role of a litigation consultant is to work with trial teams and help them develop the best visual and rhetorical strategies for persuading factfinders at trial, ADR, or in any dispute. In the 1990s, no one but the attorney-consultants at A2L called themselves litigation consultants and few if any firms offered a similar service.

Now, litigation consultants are generally litigators themselves often hailing from a large law firm. They spend most of their time directing the development of persuasive PowerPoint presentations, working with jury consultants in mock trials, and helping top litigators more effectively tell their stories at trial.

As we've written before, this role is becoming increasingly important in the litigation industry where even top litigators make it to trial only once every few years. By contrast, a litigation consultant may see the inside of a courtroom dozens of times or more per year.

If you love litigation like I do, this is the best job in the world. Here are nine reasons why I think this is so.

  1. Trial. Let's be honest, the best part of litigation is not the endless years of paper pushing in advance of trial, it's the theater of preparing for and performing at trial. A litigation consultant skips all of the pre-trial tedium and gets to engage in all the best parts of litigation. See, 11 Things Your Colleagues Pay Litigation Consultants to Do.

  2. Creativity. When we survey our clients about our litigation graphics consulting, they always tell us that the creativity we bring to the trial team, both visual and rhetorical, is what they value most. During law school, I taught myself computer animation as a hobby. Odd, I know, but clearly there was an artist who was trying to burst out. Whether you're a fine artist, an animator, or just have a strong creative bent, there are few things more satisfying than working hard to explain complicated materials to lay people using pictures and a few sound bites. SmartCEO Magazine quoted me saying, "We look like an ad agency — the classic view — everyone gathers. In the legal world, we call it a focus group, but it’s really a brainstorming session and the project group presents the case and gets feedback. Someone might say, ‘That doesn’t make sense, what are you talking about?’” Lopez makes it clear that team keeps working until no one asks that question." See, 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant.

  3. Atmosphere. Some law firms are great to work at and many of those firms are our clients, but from what most Biglaw partners tell me, most law firms are lucrative places to work but are not necessarily fulfilling places to work. A litigation consulting firm, however, is typically a relaxed and creative atmosphere. It operates like a business rather than a quasi-partnership with a confusing leadership structure. While we work hard, we enjoy our time a great deal as well. See, Top 7 Things I've Observed as a Litigation Consultant.

  4. Appreciation. Our clients genuinely appreciate us, and their clients do as well. We regularly receive testimonials, gratitude, and even presents from our clients. See, 10 Things Litigation Consultants Do That WOW Litigators.

  5. Impact. We know how much impact we have because we see it all the time. Judges go on the record praising our work, and jurors often comment on the quality of work (or lack thereof exhibited by the opposition). I find this very rewarding. See, 10 Types of Value Added by Litigation Graphics Consultants.

  6. Thought-Leadership. This blog has been named among the best in litigation by the American Bar Association. It is the primary way we distribute our thought-leadership in the industry, and I think we are clearly in the top-tier of anyone doing so. I believe this is why several hundred people sign up for a free subscription to this litigation and persuasion blog every month (we're approaching 8,000 subscribers now). See, Why We Blog (and Maybe Your Firm Should Too).

  7. The people in the office. Working in an environment where Ph.D. psychologists, award-winning artists, technology experts, and litigators all collaborate is wonderful. I often joke that somehow we've managed to get all the people who didn't hang out together in high school to row in the same direction. See, 5 Surprises in Going from IP Litigator to Litigation Consultant.

  8. Winners and losers. If you love litigation, then you probably love competition. The wonderful thing about competition in the courtroom is that there is normally a clear victor. Our victories typically make up a signficant portion of the top victories of the year listed in various legal publications. See, $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation.

  9. Smart people. I believe that we are all the average of the 10 people we spend most of our time with. Working with litigation partners from Biglaw is an amazing privilege. These are some of the smartest people in the world, and many have made me a more effective person.

I think people who love their work usually do great work. Hopefully, you can tell that I love this role in our organization even if I spend most of my time in management, sales, and marketing these days. Both roles are jobs that I love.

If you think being a litigation consultant is something you might like to do, we happen to be expanding our litigation consulting team in our DC headquarters office. The right person is usually a litigator with Biglaw experience, a creative side, and someone who is looking for the lifestyle change that working outside of a law firm can provide. Follow any of these links on LinkedIn, Law360, or Craigslist to apply for the position.

We're hoping to fill the position during February 2016, so hurry.

Other articles related to being a litigation consultant, the value of litigation consulting and the business of litigation consulting generally include:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

A Jury Consultant Is Called for Jury Duty

Posted by Laurie Kuslansky on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 @ 10:41 AM

jury consultant jury duty trial consultingLaurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting
A2L Consulting

Day 1 (feels like Day 10) at New York State Supreme Court

I showed up early to get a bird’s eye view of the jury experience from a rare perspective: the juror’s. New York County jurors are summoned from Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, and one zip code in the Bronx.

At nine a.m. sharp, the senior jury clerk opened the metal door and let in roughly 200 freshly minted prospective jurors, including me. On a frigid day, it was no surprise to hear a fair amount of coughing, so navigating to a disease-free seat was like skiing a slalom run.

In addition to the jury summons, the courts now request another form asking anonymously for one’s demographics (gender, age, ethnicity) to help the court gauge who is showing up. The information is not available to the public – I asked.

Some improvements (summoning jurors for only two to three days rather than three minimum; summoning jurors less frequently – only once each six years) have been implemented. Other “improvements” to the jury experience – such as providing work space, computers, lots of charging stations, etc. are, sadly, good on paper but a myth, not reality.

Of the approximately 10 desk spaces available in a side room, several were broken and the power strips filled up quickly or didn’t work at all. Of those that worked, oddly, my phone, like me, regained power only weakly after quite some time.

There are four potential reporting areas for New York County jurors. Here, at 111 Centre Street – Room 1121, it is possible to be sent to the same or other buildings for voir dire and/or to serve if chosen. Oddly, while many courthouses have a cafeteria, or at least some sort of hallway refreshment service, the one thing that almost all prospective jurors need, coffee, is nowhere to be found in the building. One must walk – within the 15 minutes typically allotted for a step-out break – two or three blocks to the closest Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts and hope that there isn’t too long a line there or at building security upon returning.

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Lunch is typically from one to two p.m. On a slow day, the merciful clerk cut the group loose at 12:30 to return at 2:15 p.m.

The clerks were a bright spot -- a far cry from the old days, when grumpy old men barked orders impatiently at newcomers who dared to ask any questions. The newer ones couldn’t have been more accommodating, amusing and thoughtful. They treated folks with respect and were unexpectedly humorous (advising us to “rough up” the snack machine if it didn’t work and admonishing us not to conduct research to fulfill our “inner CSI fantasies.”)

The clerks did an excellent job pre-screening jurors, explaining all the reasons that duty could be postponed. They were clear that the commitment would not permit any conference calls for work or meeting any other outside obligations during the hours of nine to five. Anyone with doubts was told to reschedule.

People were allowed to keep their cell phones on vibrate, but only to take calls in the hallway. Once one heads to a courtroom for voir dire, phones must be shut off completely (but, at least, unlike in federal courts, one can keep them handy). As a result, the entire area was like Amtrak’s quiet car on the Acela. Do you know what a really quiet, uneventful situation does to people? Yep, you guessed it – it puts them to sleep.

It was a slow day for jury trials (the first day back from Christmas and New Year’s). Only two small panels (about 20 each) were called for voir dire, leaving the bulk remaining to burn time in the jury duty waiting area. Over time, it looked like an airport lounge after many flights have been cancelled, with prospective jurors deteriorating in composure, from alert and coiffed, to taking off their shoes, dropping formalities and falling asleep in progressively awkward horizontal positions of repose.

For me, the day was more fieldwork and fascinating than one with potential to serve as a juror. No lawyer, seeing that I am a jury consultant or learning of my experience working with law enforcement or in litigation, has ever put me on a jury since I joined the profession. My snacks and amusements ran out before the day was done, so despite my fascination with the inside-out experience, after a few hours I too was rendered a slouching, snoring mutt just like everyone else.

I have always had empathy for jurors and have advised lawyers to understand the limits of jurors’ attention spans. Sitting alongside jurors today was a great lesson: the reality is worse than I thought.

So, if you as a litigator do get a juror to pass go and serve on your jury, your hurdle just got higher. They may have been in a stupor for hours or days, just waiting, before getting to your courtroom, so you are starting from behind at getting them to be alert and care. The “general anesthesia” of waiting in the jury area must wear off before they can actually pay attention. And in New York County, it’s an unimaginable horror: they may not even have coffee nearby to help.

Other articles by A2L trial and jury consultants about jury consulting, persuading jurors, and entertaining a jury:

A2L Consulting Voir Dire Consultants Handbook

Tags: Jury Questionnaire, Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Trial Consulting, Juries, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Jury Selection

The Top 15 Free Litigation and Persuasion Articles of 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 @ 12:31 PM

litigation consulting jury consultants litigation graphics dc new york california texas chicago bostonby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Nearly 200,000 visits were made to A2L Consulting's Litigation Consulting Report Blog in 2015. With every page view, our readers express their opinion of the value of each article. Those that are the most valuable get the most page views. Today, I'm happy to share the very best articles of 2015 as chosen by our readers' reading habits.

This year, we posted 90 new articles, and that brings our total blog library to nearly 500 articles. If you are involved in litigation or have to persuade a skeptical audience of anything, these articles are an incredibly valuable resource that are available at absolutely no charge.

As we approach our five-year anniversary of this blog, I am very proud of our accomplishments. I'm excited to report that we now have 7,800 subscribers, some articles have been viewed more than 30,000 times, and the ABA named ours one of the top blogs in the legal industry. Not bad for our first five years.

In 2015, these 15 articles below stood out as the very top articles of 2015. Articles focused on PowerPoint, litigation graphics, persuasion, and voir dire continue to dominate our readers' interest.

Each of these articles can be easily tweeted or shared on Linkedin using the buttons below the article title. All are free to enjoy.

I wish you the very best 2016, and here is a link to claim a free subscription so that you get notified when these articles are published.


15. How to Make PowerPoint Trial Timelines Feel More Like a Long Document

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14. A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial

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13. Lawyer Delivers Excellent PowerPoint Presentation

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

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11. 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 1

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10. How to Apply Cialdini's 6 Principles of Persuasion in the Courtroom

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9. 9 Things In-House Counsel Say About Outside Litigation Counsel

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8. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy - Pt 4 - 7 Reasons the Tactic Still Works

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7. 10 Ways to Lose Voir Dire

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6. Repelling the Reptile Strategy - Part 3 - Understanding the Bad Science

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5. How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?

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4. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy - Part 5 - 12 Ways to Kill the Reptile

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3. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy - Pt 2 - 10 Ways to Spot the Reptile

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2. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 1

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1. Why the Color of a Dress Matters to Litigators and Litigation Graphics

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a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Voir Dire, Psychology, PowerPoint, Visual Persuasion, Redundancy Effect, Opening, Persuasion

3 Observations by a Graphic Artist Turned Litigation Graphics Artist

Posted by Maureen Vogel on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

graphic design litigation artistby Maureen Vogel
Litigation Graphics Artist
A2L Consulting

Before becoming an artist here at A2L Consulting, I was what you might call a typical graphic designer. I specialized in creating visual art, primarily for nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC area. My primary focus was usually to visually convey a single important message with each graphic. I’d never concerned myself personally or professionally with the world of litigation.

When I was a graphic designer, the software platforms Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign were my standard canvas. However, as a litigation graphics artist, I usually stick to PowerPoint as the fundamental visual presentation tool. Although graphics may often incorporate visual concepts developed outside the PowerPoint platform, this is the foundation for presentation, and much of my artwork is now done in PowerPoint itself (and sometimes in Keynote for Apple devices). PowerPoint is a surprisingly powerful tool. In addition, I have noticed that there are quite a few differences between graphic design and litigation graphics art.

Here are some of the differences I have observed that I find most interesting.

1. Color psychology is very important in litigation-focused graphics.

litigation-graphics-pyschology-color-meaning.jpgYes, color psychology is important in the graphic design realm as well. But in litigation graphics, using the wrong colors in court could offend your audience or negatively affect their mood. That would be a catastrophe.

One example I’ve encountered at work was when the client asked me to change a list of people’s names on a PowerPoint slide from black to red. Red is a color we generally try to avoid in PowerPoint slides because it can increase aggressive feelings in audience members (jurors). Also, I had my own personal aversion to red; depending on the culture, the color red can also invoke very different emotions. For example, in Japan, my home country, writing a person’s name in red means that person will die soon. This would accordingly evoke a very specific emotion in the wrong audience. Because the client’s goal in changing the black font to red was simply to make it more visible and not necessarily to invoke feelings of alarm or aggression toward the people listed, we suggested a brighter blue font instead of red. Almost any color you can think of invokes a specific emotional response, so plan accordingly for your litigation graphics.

A2L is looking for talented graphic designers! Read more here.

2. Litigation design tends to have uncertain or very tight deadlines

deadlines-trial-graphics-litigation.gifWhen I was a graphic designer and did freelance graphic design work, I usually had a good idea of when the project needed to be done. This is not the case with litigation graphics. But perhaps it should be.

As a litigation graphic artist, I sometimes feel like a doctor on call. Trial dates can be changed at any time, and projects that were once due in a week can all of a sudden be due much sooner.

If you want your litigation graphic artist to create very persuasive demonstratives, make sure to devote enough time to brainstorm what graphics are needed to support your client’s story and also give the artist ample time to complete the work. This seems simple enough, but I see that that trial teams more often than not wait until what seems like the last minute to begin to develop the visual component of their trial presentation. From working with A2L, I know that this does not fit with the best practices. I suggest that trial teams begin thinking about how they’ll present their cases to a jury (or judge) many months in advance of actually needing to do so. This gives them enough time to plan for the arguments and to have a professional team craft winning graphics to go with those arguments.

3. Creativity is often influenced by the judge

demonstrative-evidence-consultant.jpgAs a graphic designer, my task was to portray information in the most creative way possible. Litigation design, on the other hand, usually isn’t a contest to see how artistic you can be (it helps, but that’s not the main focus). The judge often will determine the level of creativity required or allowed for courtroom graphics.

Before clients hire us, they typically need to get permission from the judge for the types of demonstratives allowed at trial (e.g., PowerPoint, posters, videos, etc.). Once the types of demonstratives are decided upon, we begin creating graphics accordingly. Sometimes a set of visually pleasing graphics that we’ve created need to be reduced to what one might call “bland” visuals because according to the client, “the judge is very conservative.

For those who believe they will be shot down for being too creative, consider that sometimes an element of surprise is a good thing. Creativity can be conservative, and higher style can be more engaging to even the most conservative of audiences. Words don’t persuade; arguments do. I suggest crafting visuals that convey ideas and emotions rather than pure language – asking an audience, be it a judge or juror, to remember words and more words is not engaging.

Overall, there are quite a few differences between graphic art and litigation-focused graphic art; however, in the end, they both require knowledge of the foundations of art and design – which are concepts appreciated by any audience.

A2L is looking for talented graphic designers! Read more here.

A2L Consulting articles focused on demonstrative evidence, trial graphics, and litigation graphics consulting:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Infographics, Information Design

What Does A Case-Winning Trial Graphic Look Like?

Posted by Ryan Flax on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 @ 12:57 PM

itc-litigation-graphics-wiper-blades-patentby Ryan H. Flax
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Sometimes a trial graphic really does make the difference.

We can’t say that in each case we’re involved in, a trial graphic likely won the case or played a major role in the win. We support some of the best lawyers in the country and they use the tools we provide to do what they do at trial. Usually we’re there to make sure they do the best they can do, but sometimes we provide that key image or animation (and the associated consulting input) that really clicks with a judge or jury and enables the win. Here’s a recent example.

“Insert, Pivot, and Lock”

This was a patent infringement case before the U.S. International Trade Commission concerning the connection mechanism between automobile windshield wiper blades and wiper arms – that little piece of plastic that might as well be a Rubik’s cube for most of us almost every time we need to change our wiper blades. Our client held several patents covering a very special wiper blade connector that was being ripped off by a competitor. To win at trial (final hearing at the ITC), we had to get the judge to agree to our way of understanding the rather verbose patent claim language covering what was a simple, although elegant, invention.

patent-claim-language-trial-graphic.jpgHere’s an example of the claim language captured as an image from the patent:

I’d say that this is a challenging read, whether you’re a judge, a patent attorney, or a fast food restaurant cashier. It’s pretty technically complex and rather long. Definitely “lawyery.” No doubt that it satisfies the legal requirements for claim language, but it almost takes one’s breath away.

We needed to distill this language and the concepts behind it into something that was easily understandable, but we couldn’t be over-argumentative about it. Upon reading this claim language with the benefit of the rest of the patent’s disclosure and the reader’s own common sense, the invention had to seem simple (but elegant).

With that understanding, how do you do it?

After a good deal of brainstorming with the litigation team, we found that the core of the invention was the configuration of elements that allows a user to join a wiper blade to a wiper arm by simply inserting the end of the wiper arm into the connector and then pivoting the two parts together so that they securely lock with one another. Easy enough to say, but it wasn’t so easy to actually identify this concept and explain it with any level of simplicity and specificity and persuasiveness.

After a good deal more brainstorming and whiteboard drawing, we developed a graphic design that really explained it. It was much easier to grasp the inventive concept and more convincing to show it visually, as follows:

With the animation above, we boiled down the claim language into something understandable by anyone, tangible, and acceptable for the judge. We can SEE it; he could see it. It makes perfect sense. The invention (and the infringing products) must work this way – of course.

It may look exceedingly simple, but I assure you it is not. It was not so simple to conceive as a solution to the obstacles in the case. It was not so simple to design conceptually. And it was not so simple to develop the 2D animation (all in Microsoft PowerPoint, I might add). It all works and worked perfectly.

After we showed this animation to the judge during the claim construction hearing, and after the accompanying argument, he eventually began reciting the tag-line of “insert, pivot, and lock” himself in addressing questions to counsel. A pretty good result to that point.

The results of the case were even better.

In the public version of Judge Pender’s Initial Determination (at 32), when discussing the claim construction, he titles one section “The End Portion of the Wiper Arm and the Connecting Element Can Pivot with respect to Each Other About the First Location Until Said Securing Portion Secures the Second Part of the End Portion of the Wiper Arm.” This illustrates that he really gets it. He doesn’t mention the insertion part here, but this part of his final opinion is devoted to the concept that after that insertion the two wiper system components pivot together to lock securely, just as the demonstrative shows. It is clear that the accused devices do this and equally clear that the prior art does not, so the judge’s recognition of this concept is critical to both making the infringement case and overcoming the opposing invalidity case.

In the infringement part of his Initial Determination (at 36 et seq.), Judge Pender identifies that the accused devices are assembled via a “simple pivoting motion.” Thus, in his finding, they infringe the patent’s claims. The claims cover “insert, pivot, and lock.” The covered product works by “insert[ing], pivot[ing], and lock[ing].” And the accused devices infringe because they, too, “insert, pivot, and lock.”

Winner!

Moreover, the animation above does more than establish that the wiper blades are connected by inserting, pivoting, and locking. It shows that this motion of locking can be engaged from either side of the wiper blade, that is, in a “toe-to-heel” or in a “heel-to-toe” insertion and pivoting. This was also crucial to establishing infringement by the accused devices (see Initial Determination at 40 et seq.). Judge Pender found that the respondent’s arguments that they couldn’t infringe because their products connected in a backwards sort of way compared to the complainants’ devices were just plainly erroneous.

The result of all these favorable events was a complete victory for our client. The judge found a violation of Section 337 and recommended that the commission issue an exclusion order against the opposing party, which will stop importation of the accused, infringing wiper blade products.

It is not my intention to minimize in any way the wonderful advocacy by our client in this matter. It was truly outstanding. I believe that counsel’s trial strategy combined with the effective demonstrative evidence really sealed the deal here. Seeing, in this case, was believing.

Other articles on A2L Consulting's site related to patent litigation and the use of visuals in patent trials, in the ITC and in IPRs:

patent litigation demonstrative evidence

Tags: Patent Tutorial, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Patent Litigation, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, ITC

5 Trial Graphics That Work Every Time

Posted by Laurie Kuslansky on Wed, Dec 16, 2015 @ 02:14 PM

five-trial-graphics-that-always-work-at-trialby Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury Consulting
A2L Consulting

        and

Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Having conducted hundreds of mock trials and observed and polled jurors in hundreds of actual trials, we see the jurors asking the same questions over and over again – questions that the trial presentation should have answered.

In view of that, here are five different subjects for trial graphics that are almost sure to answer some jurors' question in every case. They are so standard as scene-setters that they almost always have a place in a trial. Without them, triers of fact often feel as if they have come in after the movie started and that they can't rewind to get the answers. 

These five trial graphics fill in important blanks, prevent confusion, and create the foundation to tell your story, your way. Imagine the difference between being introduced to someone merely by name (“This is John Doe”), to whom you nod politely, but in whom you are unlikely to take interest -- and being introduced more fully (“This is Professor John Doe, who is in charge of research on meteors at M.I.T.”), whom you now likely have greater interest to get to know.

1.  An organizational trial graphic or players chart showing the major players, their relationships, and their role in the case as you see them.

players chart trial graphic

A players chart answers questions like:

Who initiated the relationship?

What did each need or bring to it? Why?

Who is in charge?

Who did what?

Who knows whom?

What are the coalitions and who are adversaries?

Who was a good or bad actor?

A2L is hiring! Know a talented presentation designer for our DC headquarters?


2.  A chronology and timeline of key events that shows what happened in what sequence, which leads to conclusions about cause and effect.

timeline trial graphic

A timeline or chronology answers questions like:

When did the relationship start?

What happened during the "courtship" and "honeymoon" periods?

When did things go wrong?

When did the deterioration start?

What happened just before or after it?

When did the relationship end?

How did each side react?

 

3.  What each gained or lost from the events in the case. This shows motive or the lack of it, equity, value and other important points.

elements of crime trial graphic


A gain/loss, events, or elements trial graphic answers questions like:

What did each put in or take out of the situation?

What was their value?

Does it seem fair and balanced or not?

 

4.  How the damages do or do not add up in a way that jurors can follow along by themselves, simply.

damages-trial-graphic.jpg

If lay jurors cannot “do the math” in their own terms, it’s hard to convince them to award or mitigate damages. They can't fight opposing views just by taking your word for it or decide the battle of the experts in the experts' terms.

 

5.  Who is...?

expert cv resume trial graphic

Charts that show the identity of the litigants or key players and play up or down their history, size, wealth or function can make or break how triers of fact view them, blame or credit them, determine who is the victim, apportion fault and damages, decide credibility and reach other important conclusions about liability and damages. Are they so rich that damages won't affect them?  Are they so experienced that they should have known better?  Are they so well credentialed, that you should believe them, even if you don't quite understand them?

Without answering these essential who/what/where/when/why questions that accompany any case, you may not be able to satisfy the triers of fact when it comes to the more challenging questions of the case at hand. Instead of depriving them of this important information, make it handy.

Other articles and resources related to using a trial graphic, litigation graphics, demonstrative evidence, and winning using these tools:

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Timelines

The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentation During Opening Statement

Posted by Lorraine Kestle on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 @ 10:15 AM

powerpoint-opening-statements-litigation-graphics-trialby Lorraine Kestle
Graphic Designer
A2L Consulting

The age-old adage that there are two sides (at least) to every story is clearly evident in litigation. Both parties believe that the applicable law, when applied to the facts, supports their position, or they likely would not be going to court. The parties and the lawyers are familiar with the facts and the law. Everyone fully understands the nuances of their position.

Everyone, that is, but the judge and jury who are hearing the case for the first time. It is these “novices to the case” who will ultimately decide which version of the facts or story is most persuasive.

For one day, I was a “novice to the case” in the courtroom as I helped our trial technician set up for a PowerPoint presentation in court. I observed both sides’ opening statements as well as the direct and cross-examinations.

Although I have been in the courtroom on numerous occasions, I had no prior knowledge of the substance of this matter and did not work on this presentation. Our client, the plaintiff in this case, delivered an opening statement that was enhanced with a PowerPoint presentation, while opposing counsel relied on typed or handwritten notes and an easel with a large paper tablet. After observing both approaches, I came away with what I think are interesting conclusions about the effect that the PowerPoint presentation had on my understanding of the case, the attorney’s arguments, and my initial impression of liability.

1. An Increased Perception Of Preparation, Competence And Persuasion

As a former paralegal, I know that preparation is one of the keys to success in litigation. And while I believe both sides were equally prepared, this was not the impression created in the courtroom by defendant’s counsel. What set the opening statements apart was the PowerPoint presentation used by our client. It served as a baseline of comparison for what followed.

The PowerPoint presentation not only emphasized key components of the opening statement, but it also added an air of competency and depth to the arguments being made. There was a clear, logical, and concise flow of information that was easy to follow. The visual presentation and callouts of relevant portions of emails and the employment contract clearly substantiated the verbal argument. This ultimately increased the impact of and the persuasive value of the opening statement. I have a clear visual picture of those emails and the contract that were the cornerstone evidence in the plaintiff’s case, even if I cannot recall the exact wording.

When defendant’s counsel did not use any visual or graphic presentations to support the opening statement, my first thought was, “Why is that?” My focus was not where it should have been; it was not on what he was saying. In fact, I was distracted by the numerous sheets of paper defense counsel brought to the podium and the yellow Post-it notes that were on it. It gave me the impression that they were less prepared than the plaintiff, which may or may not be the case. Nonetheless, this was my initial impression and I think ultimately influenced my view of their argument.

2. Increased Retention of Evidence Presented

For me, the evidence presented had greater weight when I could actually see the email communications that were made and the contract that was signed by the defendant. The document exhibit callouts, in particular, which supported the plaintiff’s arguments, became visually imprinted on my mind. And I received no other visual images from the defendant to compare or contrast them with. When I look back on that day, it is the callouts that I recall. This is what I remember, more than three days later.

3. Increased Attention to Arguments

When you are sitting behind the bar in the courtroom, you have a limited view of the exhibits and evidence being presented. However, when the PowerPoint slides were tied into the court’s monitors, it was much easier to see the evidence being offered. I found that I paid closer attention to the arguments being made; I was actively engaged in “looking” at the evidence to see if I agreed with what the lawyer was saying.   I could see that everyone, including the judge, was looking at the courtroom monitors.

On the other hand, when the defendant’s counsel was creating a live, hand-drawn organizational chart during cross-examination, not only could I not see it due to its orientation in the courtroom, I felt that it was too far away from the individual who was testifying and the judge. It was more difficult to follow the argument being made.

In conclusion, when I left court that day, I felt that the opening statement set the tone for everything that followed. The effective use of a PowerPoint presentation during the trial enhanced the arguments being made and, at the end of the day, our client prevailed. I can’t say I’m surprised at the outcome. They had me during opening statements.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to persuading with graphics, opening statements and using words and pictures in a complimentary way:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Psychology, PowerPoint, Opening, Document Call-Outs, Trial Boards

Why Litigation Graphics at Mock Trials Make Sense

Posted by Laurie Kuslansky on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 @ 02:39 PM

litigation-graphics-mock-trial-focus-groups.jpgby Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury & Trial Consulting
A2L Consulting

Do movie trailers include the most boring part of a movie? 

Of course not. They include something to grab your attention quickly and show what the movie is about and why you should be interested in it in a few words and images. In that brief window, many viewers decide if it is worth seeing or not.

An opening statement is similar. A common mistake is to assume that more equals more. It does not. A great presenter brings forth a winning story, including why the audience (jury) should care, and thematically gets and keeps their attention without excess words. The idea is to assemble the information into eye-catching visuals that do the work for the jury, take the guesswork out of their conclusions and aren’t just a list of words in a PowerPoint being read aloud. There is no better way to summarize, simplify, organize, condense, and contextualize information than with good litigation graphics.  

That holds true at mock trials as well. A mock trial requires condensing presentation material to fit within strict time limits. Mock jurors are burdened with receiving, understanding and remembering a lot of information in a little time. Graphics help them do so, so that their interaction with the facts is not random – based on limited information, cognitive overload and an overtaxed memory – but based more closely on the key facts, issues, legal questions and the law that the sponsor of the mock trial is hoping to test.

what-is-a-patent-powerpoint-graphics-aid-litigation-graphicWinning a rigged contest isn't worth it.

A key consideration for conducting a worthwhile mock trial is to ensure balanced presentations for both sides or risk distorting the outcome because the deck was stacked in your favor. An unearned “win” is a false positive. It is better to do no jury research than to do bad jury research. Part of what is required to perform good mock jury research includes presenting good litigation graphics, for both sides, by as good a presenter for the opposing side as yours, taking equal presentation time for both sides, and showing unlikable evidence as a minimum starting point to pressure test your case.  

Being penny-wise, but pound foolish isn't worth it, either.

Anyone who rejects litigation graphics at a mock trial for budgetary or other reasons is probably litigation amateur. Top-tier litigators wouldn't dream of doing it that way at a mock trial. If money is the barrier, there are many ways to accomplish the goal cost-effectively, including a hybrid of in-house and outside professional support, re-allocating resources in a more productive manner, or providing the consultant with the total budget that can be apportioned for the mock trial and asking for their advice on how best to achieve the goals of the trial team and client within budget.

Don't get caught empty-handed.

The absence of litigation graphics at a mock trial creates easily avoidable problems. It is foolhardy to believe that no one will notice and it can wait “till the real trial.” On the contrary: patent-litigation-timeline-trial-inventiontypically during mock deliberations, foreseeable questions arise that would have been so easy to remedy with basic graphics that were missing.  “When did that happen?  Who did that first? Who was he?  What was the name of that agreement?  What did it say?”

A lot of time is often wasted trying to figure out a simple fact that was missed because it was said, not shown -- and thus, not remembered or unclear. Counsel ends up looking foolish for omitting them. As a result, the expense “saved” in not providing graphics for the mock trial is eclipsed by the unfavorable distortions that result. Their absence and the "savings" are not applauded in the end. Better to provide them from the beginning.

Other free articles and free resources about mock trials, opening statements and litigation graphics from A2L Consulting:

 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Psychology, Storytelling, Practice

The Top 15 Litigation E-Books & Webinars of 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 @ 03:18 PM

top litigation ebooks webinars 2015 a2l consulting litigation consultants jury graphicsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Every year we publish several free e-books and conduct several free webinars focused on litigation, trial graphics, persuasion, and winning cases, both before and after trial. These are among our more popular products. Thus far in 2015, readers have downloaded a piece of content from our collection of more than 30 e-books and webinars more than 10,000 times.

There is something for everyone in these e-books and webinars, from the latest insights in storytelling to the art of making a great presentation, from how to get a jury to reject junk science to the best way to conduct voir dire. These are not bland marketing materials; they represent the state of the art in our profession, and they are full of useful tips and strategies that lawyers can use.

Our books are typically made up of hand-curated articles culled from over 500 that the team members of A2L Consulting have published over the last five years. 

A2L's webinars are like free mini-CLE courses -- except that they are much more interesting than your typical CLE event.

Our newest type of material is the podcast. These are showing serious promise as more and more readers learn about them and download them. We now have three podcasts available – again, totally free for download. They are: Twelve Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said, Five Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements, and Storytelling in Litigation.

Here are the top 15 litigation e-books and webinars of 2015, ranked in order of the number of times they have been downloaded. It is possible to share each of these resources with your colleagues on Twitter and LinkedIn by clicking the buttons below.

15. How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology

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14. Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool Webinar

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13. The Patent Litigation Toolkit 3rd Ed

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12. The In-House Counsel Litigation Toolkit

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11. Using and Creating Litigation Graphics to Persuade

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10. Winning Your Case BEFORE Trial Webinar

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9. Combating Junk Science E-Book 2nd Ed

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8. Top 75 Articles of All Time E-Book

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7. Litigation Support Toolkit E-Book

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6. The Complex Civil Litigation Guidebook

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5. How To Use and Design Trial Timelines

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4. Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed

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3. Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements Webinar

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2. The Opening Statement Toolkit

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1. The Voir Dire Handbook

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, E-Book, Webinar, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Articles, Voir Dire, Storytelling, Opening, CLE

Lawyer Delivers Excellent PowerPoint Presentation

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 @ 02:42 PM


ted talk lawyers lawrence lessig presentation style litigation graphicsby Ken Lopez

Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

The title of this article shouldn't sound like a breaking news headline, but let's be honest, it does. Most PowerPoint presentations are bullet-point-riddled text-heavy electronic projections of a speaker's notes. Most lawyer-delivered PowerPoint presentations are the same — just with even more text and smaller fonts.

As a result, a significant majority of speakers (and lawyers) using PowerPoint presentations are hard to understand and dramatically less persuasive than they could be. There are exceptions of course.

The kinds of litigators and others who become clients of A2L Consulting's litigation graphics division are the first exceptions. They typically learn the rules of effective presentation and high-level visual persuasion based on well-established neuroscience principles and rigorous psychological studies.

The second exception is Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor.

I had the pleasure of seeing him deliver a presentation at TEDx MidAtlantic recently. Whether or not one agrees with his message, almost everyone can learn a lot from his presentation style and the methods he used to achieve visual persuasion. Here is a video of that presentation:

Professor Lessig did so many things correctly in this presentation that it is worthy of study by litigators and presenters alike. I'm not going to suggest that this is a perfect presentation for a courtroom environment, but it is a very good model for a situation where you want to persuade an audience to act or see things your way. Still, there are important lessons for the courtroom here.

Understand that when I say this is "a very good model" that I'm not simply giving my opinion (even if it is based on 20+ years of helping litigators win cases using visual persuasion techniques). Rather, this assertion is based on the latest science about what persuades people.

In contrast to my articles pointing out what can go wrong like The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators MakeThe 14 Most Preventable Trial Preparation Mistakes and 6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid, here is a time-coded list of seventeen things I see that Professor Lessig did exceptionally well.

  1. 00:22: Attention Grabbing Words: His first few sentences use words designed to get you interested. When we hear "protest," "Hong Kong," and "China," most people are going to take notice given the historical inconsistency between these terms.

  2. 00:32: Use of Video: Showing moving pictures is more captivating than a still image, and starting off with video serves to draw the audience in emotionally from the very beginning. The fact that this is a protest by children further serves to drawn in the audience emotionally.

  3. 00:55: Text Highlighting. It is generally a bad idea to read what is on screen. Notice how you don't really understand what he is reading while you're looking at it. That's because of the split attention effect. When he takes away the unnecessary words, you see exactly what he wants you to remember. That is a good method of highlighting your key message.

  4. 1:05: Pace Change: He begins his presentation slowly to draw in the audience in the first 30 seconds and now changes his pace to start to make his case. Changing the pace of one's speech is excellent for keeping interest. You'll notice he slows down at the end as well. In fact, he slows down whenever he wants to make an emotional point and make it stick
    storytelling for judge jury courtroom best method for trial persuasion and emotion
  5. 1:07: Clear and Easy-to-Understand Persuasive Graphics: The imagery is simple and supports a simple point. There are two steps, and a small group stands in the middle to act as a filter. He uses a nice clear graphic to describe gerrymandering at 13:51 as well. Litigation graphics do not have to be complex to be effective. See Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest and 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

  6. 1:20: Proper Font Size: Except here for making a point, Professor Lessig rarely gets below 28 point font size. See 12 Ways to Eliminate "But I Need Everything On That PowerPoint Slide."

  7. 1:28: Use of Information Design Principles: I wrote about the use of dots to represent small numbers in Securities Litigation Graphics and Juror Communication, and it is a useful technique, especially when combined with a more literal explanation and an oral explanation.

  8. 2:35: Appropriate Use of Humor: He works in a House of Cards reference without ever saying a thing and draws a big laugh. Humor certainly does not always work in the courtroom, but in this environment, it is entirely appropriate.

  9. 4:09: Analogy: Notice how Professor Lessig connects the concepts of China, Tweeds, Whites, Funders and more using the same text graphic and changing one word to carry through an analogy. He does this again at 7:50 when flipping between the America and China slides. See Courtroom Exhibits: Analogies and Metaphors as Persuasion Devices and Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers.

  10. 6:42: Nod to Steve Jobs: From the background used to the font size to the black mock turtleneck to the style of presentation generally, Professor Lessig is clearly a student of the extremely effective Steve Jobs-style presentation technique. See the 4th video in my article 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere), and you'll see exactly what I mean.

  11. 8:15: Immersive Graphics Presentation Style: We've written about the Broda-Bahm study demonstrating that the use of an immersive style (frequently changing and persistently used) of presentation has been shown to have the most persuasive effect on jurors. Professor Lessig uses this technique better than just about every lawyer that I've seen present.

  12. 11:42 and Throughout: Repetition: His use of visual repetition of charts and oral repetition is excellent. Count how many times he mentions "inequality" here. We wrote about how important repetition is for persuasion recently in A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial.

  13. 17:00 Repetition and Rule of Three: Following in the footsteps of MLK, Winston Churchill, and others, Professor Lessig uses a classic rhetorical technique called Anaphora when he repeats his "you want - we will not get" phrase three times over.

  14. 17:33: Hard to Read Fonts: If you want to get your audience to pay attention, give them something hard to read. He uses that approach here with his "most important problem" slide. We wrote about this technique being used to overcome confirmation bias in Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias.

    litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology
  15. 18:31: Return the Focus to the Speaker: Watch as he decelerates the volume of slides to return the focus to the speaker. This is intentional and signals he is done with the presentation of evidence and moving on to his closing.

  16. 19:25: Closing: He contrasts reality with a dream of equality and makes his emotional plea. He contrasts between potential and reality or as Nancy Duarte described it, what is vs. what could be.

  17. Throughout: Surprise: From font changes to the incorporation of video to the use of humor to his constantly varying slide style, Professor Lessig uses surprise to keep the audience engaged. It may be the most important persuasion technique used throughout the presentation, and we have written about it in Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? and 5 Ways to Apply Active Teaching Methods for Better Persuasion.

There is a lot more Professor Lessig did right in this presentation, but these are some of the highlights. If you have been a reader of this blog for some time, these techniques should sound familiar. They are techniques employed by the world's best persuaders, they are the techniques we incorporate into our litigation graphics work, and every one of them can be used at trial to persuade more effectively.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to PowerPoint presentations, visual presentation and rhetorical techniques:

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time
 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Presentation Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

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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.


ryanflax blog litigation consultant 

Ryan H. Flax, Esq., Managing Director, Litigation Consulting, joined A2L Consulting on the heels of practicing Intellectual Property (IP) law as part of the Intellectual Property team at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a national law firm based in Washington, DC.  Over the course of his career, Ryan has obtained jury verdicts totaling well over $1 billion in damages on behalf of his clients and has helped clients navigate the turbulent waters of their competitors’ patents.  Ryan can be reached at flax@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.

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