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The Litigation Consulting Report

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
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

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

Do Professionally Designed PowerPoint Slides Get Better Results?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Nov 3, 2015 @ 09:50 AM

powerpoint professional graphic designer amatuer lawyer litigatorby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

In my last post, 7 Bad Habits of Law Firm Litigators, I wrote about the problems caused by litigators who, even when they have an adequate budget, design their own PowerPoint slides for trial. I've seen this result in:

Well, there's new problem to add to this list of challenges faced by litigators who design their own slides, and it was just revealed by a brand new study conducted by the Missouri School of Journalism and the Washington Post.

This study found that good visual design in online articles has been conclusively shown to promote reader interest, enjoyment, emotional engagement, ease of understanding, learning, and curiosity. Using brain, skin, and other biometric studies to analyze the effect on readers, the study's author found that clean and professional looking designs caused readers to be more engaged in almost every respect. The more streamlined the design, the better the results.

In this study (and in general), good design means breaking text into small manageable snippets, highlighting key points, and removing distracting elements from the screen. As the author noted, "If a story is presented well, readers will enjoy it more and engage with it more deeply." Isn't this precisely what litigators want from the PowerPoint presentations that support their expert witnesses and their own opening and closing presentations?

However, how many litigators are actually comfortable producing PowerPoint slides with a clean and uncluttered page design? In my experience (see How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?), not many. Yet the benefits of clean visual design have rarely been so clearly articulated. Thus, it would seem that reliance on professional litigation graphic designers is more important than ever before. It's just not enough to use a PowerPoint template, some bullet points, and a goldfish photo and think you are producing good design.

At first glance, these new findings might seem to run counter to some things I've said before in articles like Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest or Good-Looking Graphic Design ≠ Good-Working Visual Persuasion, but I think it would wrong to draw that conclusion. Actually, I think these new findings are entirely consistent with our experience and these and other articles we've published like Why Expensive-Looking Litigation Graphics Are Better. The challenges for anyone designing litigation graphics in PowerPoint are many and include:

  • varying visual styles throughout a presentation intentionally to maintain interest;
  • mixing mediums with other tools like trial boards to maintain interest;
  • knowing when to show a blank screen;
  • knowing how and when to use fonts for emphasis and obfuscation;
  • knowing how and when to use fonts to overcome confirmation bias;
  • knowing how to use surprise to overcome confirmation bias;
  • avoiding the triggering of the split-attention effect;
  • knowing how switching between versions of PowerPoint will affect slides;
  • knowing how to properly embed video in PowerPoint slides;
  • understanding and using color theory;
  • matching the graphic style to the jury and judge;
  • avoiding bullet points like the plague;
  • keeping Rule 403 in mind with every slide;
  • just keeping text large enough on screen;
  • considering color choice and contrast for the display medium;
  • building incredibly complicated PowerPoint animations for a fraction of the cost of 3D animation;
  • avoiding black hat techniques;
  • decluttering slides;
  • building in a story;
  • knowing best practices for document call-outs of all types;
  • understanding how to use highlighting correctly to maintain image quality;
  • knowing how to manage PowerPoint presentation file size by managing images correctly;
  • understanding version control and enforcing it in the run-up to trial;
  • blending video and still images to maintain interest;
  • limiting text to small digestible chunks;
  • creating an emotional journey with your slides;
  • creating points of emphasis so that the critical can be easily separated from the superfluous;
  • trying to keep slide content limited to one key takeaway per slide;
  • and there's a lot more too.

It's a long list, right? And it's why I've said, litigation graphics are much more complicated than you think, and just because you can use PowerPoint (of course you can), don't assume you should design your own litigation graphics. You literally won't know what you are missing until it is too late.

More A2L articles, free downloadable e-books, and free webinars about good design, PowerPoint for lawyers and visual persuasion:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology


Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Psychology, Storytelling, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Trial Boards, Information Design

Top 10 Litigation & Persuasion Articles from Q3 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Oct 23, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

top 10 litigation persuasion articles a2l consulting q3 2015by Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

In a recent post, I discussed why we blog here at A2L, and I pointed to the very positive side effects of blogging in terms of revenue growth. Today, I'm returning to one of my favorite things -- highlighting the most popular articles of the previous quarter. In this case, it was the third quarter of 2015.

I think that many of our 7,500 subscribers can't read all of the articles that we post. It can be two or three a week, the equivalent of about 10 every month. But our readers don’t want to miss the very best ones either.

These 10 articles below were, in effect, voted the very best by our readership in the third quarter. It’s simple: A visit to the article is a vote, as we keep track of exactly how many visits each article receives. We do this to continually get a better sense of what our readers want to read. Some of our articles may only be read a couple of hundred times while others may be read tens of thousands of times.

Last quarter, two series dominated our top 10 articles. The first is by our Managing Director of Litigation Consulting, Ryan Flax. It’s a four-part series and webinar titled Winning Before Trial. It is focused on persuasion strategies that an attorney can use successfully, even before going to trial. Ryan's articles are especially popular among litigators, as Ryan is himself a litigator and expert in storytelling and the development of persuasive litigation graphics.

The second series is one that I wrote called Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel. I was prompted to write this series after speaking to a group of defense counsel about the “reptile” tactic, a plaintiff-focused trial tactic that is working its way into the kind of cases we typically work on. I was happy to see this series become so popular as I feel it is very important for all lawyers to understand this tactic.

Below are the top 10 articles. Each has been formatted for easy reading, liking and sharing.

10. Social Proof and Jurors

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9. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 2 - Parallel Trial Preparation Tactics

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8. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 1 - Consider Litigation Costs and Opportunities

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7. The Best Litigators Love Sales, Love Storytelling and Persuasion

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6. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 4 - Don't Overlook Visual Persuasion

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5. Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 3 - Storytelling for Lawyers

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

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3. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 4 - 7 Reasons the Tactic Still Works

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2. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 3 - Understanding the Bad Science

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1. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 5 - 12 Ways to Kill the Reptile

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a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time


Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Articles, Storytelling, PowerPoint, Opening, Reptile Trial Strategy

Why We Blog (and Maybe Your Firm Should Too)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 04:10 PM

blog blawg storytelling inbound marketing lawyers content marketing attorneysby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

A new friend of mine had been the head of litigation at a Fortune 500 firm known for frequently being involved in litigation. He said something interesting to me earlier this week: “You guys put the best information out there. You synthesize litigation information better than anyone else. But does it translate into business for you?”

He said that last part with a bit of skepticism in his voice. That was an “aha” moment for me. I realized that I really haven’t talked much about how helpful our blogging has been to our business (and might be for yours), so I want to share some of the amazing facts about it.

A month ago, we celebrated our 7,500th subscriber who signed up to be notified of new articles in this Litigation Consulting Report Blog. In just four and a half years, we have gone from zero subscribers to 7,500. We have progressed from 800 visitors to our website each month to about 20,000. We've gone from a small handful of downloads from our website each month to about 2,000 per month. We've gone from a couple dozen published articles to more than 500. Even the American Bar Association has called our blog one of the very best. That is amazing, and I've shared most of that information in some form before.

Here's the most important piece I've never shared, and it's what I shared with my new litigation friend: Just about every business day, sometimes many times per day, someone asks about working with us as a result of reading something on our blog.

Five years ago, I thought a blog would be a neat way for us to show some thought leadership in the industry, but I didn't really think it would be a big business generator. I was wrong. The blog generates most of our business now, and I am more surprised about that fact than anyone.

Five years ago, we pulled in most of our jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology/courtroom hot-seat consulting work by calling prospects on the phone (repeatedly). Most of our competitors still do this. I just never believed that annoying people into buying from us was a good long-term strategy, and I think history has proven us right.

Our blog generates exactly the kind of business that we are great at. If someone reads our blog and enjoys it, it means they tend to think as we do as an organization. It means they are serious about winning and willing to do what it takes to win. They probably also have an understanding of the proven persuasive power of storytelling, of litigation graphics, of the rhetorical techniques we share with our clients and of the value of outsourcing some of these elements of trial preparation to experts. It self-selects the very best litigators who typically go on to win cases. 

So, I can't say that we blog for the money, but it is a very pleasant side effect. We blog because we love the work that we do. We live in the courtroom every day, and there are not many people like us. We love to share our message and hopefully to elevate the entire industry in the process.

A blog is the most classic and best example of inbound marketing – the type of marketing that is considered the best and most successful type in the Internet age. Inbound marketing focuses on creating high-quality content that pulls people toward one’s company and one’s services. By aligning the content that we publish with our customers’ interests -- through the blog, the articles that we write and other means -- we naturally attract inbound traffic that, over time, becomes our best source of new customers.

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Articles, Marketing, Business Development, blog

Top 7 Things I've Observed as a Litigation Consultant

Posted by Ryan Flax on Wed, Oct 7, 2015 @ 12:42 PM

litigation consultant best in the industry graphics storytellingby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & General Counsel
A2L Consulting

I’ve passed another anniversary at A2L Consulting and in my time as a litigation consultant I’ve been both surprised and reassured about the state of the litigation business and its players (I also wrote about my surprises upon beginning my career as a litigation consultant). I’ve seen both the very best and quite bad litigators in action and have consulted for both. Although some litigators don’t live up to my high standards, I’m impressed by many litigators as both professionals and people. Here are seven of my observations over these years that I think might help you in your practice.

  1. Many Lawyers Confuse Chronology With Storytelling

It is almost universally accepted that storytelling is important to engaging an audience (including a jury) and that framing a client’s case as a compelling story is key to doing your best at trial, particularly in opening statements. But more often than not, when I ask a litigation team what their client's story is, rather than explain “why we’re really here” as they would to a jury and illustrate some conflict and emotionally valuable moral that is critical to juror engagement, they rattle off some chronological series of events that led to a legal injury to their client or some misconstrued relationship by the opposing party. These are not stories and presenting a case framed this way, while possibly interesting to a legal scholar, is not compelling to a juror.

I’m surprised that so many smart litigators fall into the chronology trap and forsake emotional connection to engage jurors. I don’t advise pandering to a jury or excessive emoting by a litigator, but for a jury to care about you and your client and generate the stamina jurors need for a trial, litigators must tap into their emotional brains. This is not done by an information dump, a calendar, or using a lot of words.

A story answers the question posed above – why are we here today, in this courtroom? A story also has all the stuff you learned in grade school: a beginning, middle, climax, and end, characters, setting, theme, and moral.

  1. Some Lawyers Focus Too Much on Too Small Things

It’s easy for litigators (even more so for the associates doing the day-to-day stuff) to over-focus on every detail. The prospect of overlooking a potentially key piece of evidence or being surprised by an unknown fact exposed by opposing counsel is frightening for attorneys (it was for me), so we often wind up thinking way too much about every little thing in a case. This is called being “in the weeds,” and when you’re there it’s exceedingly difficult to escape without help. It happens with the selection of evidence, with witness prep, and even with the development of graphics, where sometimes counsel wants to very carefully think over every aspect, e.g., choosing what font style and color palette and slide aspect ratio will best work for their case.

On each of these things, I urge counsel to take a step back and delegate where possible so they can focus on the BIG PICTURE. The best first-chair litigators do this naturally, and the rest of us need to do it deliberately. Attorney time and brainpower should be spent on figuring out what it will take to win. Let litigation graphics consultants decide what font works best for your opening statement presentation. It will be a relief when you do.

  1. Many Litigators Don’t Know What Tools Are Available

Even though the litigation consulting industry has been around for decades, I still find a lot of lawyers really don’t know what we do (in total) and what persuasive tools are at their immediate disposal. Often, my first conversations with new clients include questions like, “What all do you do?” The concepts of litigation graphics, presentation and persuasion consulting, trial technology, and jury consulting are not concrete ideas in many litigators’ minds, and I often have to educate clients on what we have in our (their) toolbox.

Most often, such attorneys think of litigation graphics as discrete images created for specific points they want to make during trial. They don’t understand that, while that’s a part of our work, such graphics won’t alone provide the immersive visual experience necessary (particularly during opening statements) to persuade jurors.

Also, many litigators seriously consider doing their own graphics and/or in-court technology presentation. They have Microsoft PowerPoint and Word and can cut and paste and they’ve heard that iPad apps make evidence presentation easy. The former is never a good idea and, while the later might be true for some situations, e.g., a hearing or very small trial, it’s not going to work in any bigger trial that could have hundreds or thousands of exhibits. There is a lot to know about crafting persuasive trial visuals and there are professionals who do nothing but build trial databases, edit deposition videos, and run trial presentation software to create a seamless trial for you and your jurors. Litigators should understand this and use professionals (and let your paralegals focus on what they should be doing as well).

  1. Litigators Still Wait Too Long to Bring in a Litigation Consultant

Even though they know better, most of the time litigation teams wait until just weeks before trial to engage a litigation consultant / jury consultant / graphics team / trial tech. Even though they know waiting makes it a more difficult budget-sell to their client, leads to an uncomfortable rush to develop graphics, may make mock jury exercises impossible, and forecloses the possibility of building discovery around what they learn from a consultant, they wait. I urge early planning for trial (at the complaint/answer stage), which is the right time to develop that important two-track litigation strategy, and begin working on your case story and graphics as early as possible. Although we can certainly help you late in the game, we can do a lot more before halftime.

  1. A Lot of Litigation Graphics are Subpar

When I get the chance, I always go to my client’s opening statements and then to as much of the rest of their trials as possible. So I get to see the litigation graphics developed by/for opposing counsel. I’m consistently underwhelmed.  It's impossible to say whether these poor visuals directly led to the oppositions' losses at trial, but they didn't help.

More often than not I see a lot of text-heavy graphics – a severe barrier to juror engagement and communication. I see a severe lack of style, clarity, and intentional design - this screams lack of preparation and deliberateness in presentation. There are key visual presentation concepts that, if understood and followed, lead to persuasive graphics, e.g., font type, color choice, simplicity, complexity, branding, style, and others. There is no shortage of information about these concepts out there, but it seems most folks are not paying attention. We are.

  1. Lawyers Don’t Spend Money Where It Can Help Them

Litigation consulting, jury research, trial graphics, and trial technology cost your client money – very true. But the ROI on these services far outweighs their expense in bigger cases. The cost of a typical larger litigation, such as an employment case, hovers just around $1M. A typical bigger patent case costs about twice that amount. However, the services and tools that could be used to hone your persuasive game at any stage of such litigations turn out to be a very, very small fraction of these costs.

Take a big-time patent and breach of contract case where our client won over $300 million in damages. The costs for A2L’s services were well below $200,000, about 5% or less of the litigation budget and about 0.005% or less of the damages award. I know that our services played an important role in the victory, even though the trial team was beyond outstanding.

But, we still see litigation counsel struggling to decide whether $30,000 or $50,000 is the right spend for a mock jury focus group (a $20K difference that could be the difference between scientific data results and seat of the pants analysis) or whether to spend $12,000 to have a professional trial tech hot seat operator at trial (they should), or whether they can make their own graphics for opening statements in house (they cannot). In my view, saving a penny to lose a dollar makes no sense.

  1. Practice is as Important as Everyone Thinks

Finally, it’s been shown time and time again that practicing oral argument makes sense. The more you practice, the better you’ll do. It takes time, but again, the ROI on this time investment is tremendous. When litigators do several full speed run-throughs for opening statements or oral arguments, I see them do a fantastic job at the real thing. They don’t need notes, they know their subject matter, they are and appear more comfortable, they seem more reasonable, and they use their graphics perfectly in a compelling way.  Not practicing so that you can feel and seem more spontaneous at opening is a recipe for a poor performance.

Practice. And start early.

Other articles and resources about storytelling, litigation consulting and trial preparation from A2L Consulting:

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Preparation, Storytelling

20 New Litigation Realities (to Celebrate Our 20th)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 @ 07:19 AM

litigation consulting litigation consultantsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Today is the 20th anniversary of the founding of A2L. We literally started in a closet not long after I finished law school. First, we were Animators at Law. Then almost five years ago, we became A2L Consulting to reflect the fact that litigation graphics were now less than half of our business. Jury consulting, trial technology support and litigation advisory services are now a bigger part of what we do.

Twenty years later, we're a national litigation consulting firm and arguably, the very top litigation consulting firm in the country. That's not mere puffery. We're consistently voted #1 in local and national legal industry surveys.

To celebrate our 20th, here are 20 new realities that litigators, in-house counsel and litigation support professionals should consider.

1. The New CLE: It is a rare CLE seminar that does not put us all to sleep. I think that modern formats of continued learning like our Litigation Consulting Report blog and other litigation blogs, including those recognized by the American Bar Association, are the best places to go for continued learning. It’s time for the legal establishment to agree.

2. The power of storytelling: The science behind the effectiveness of storytelling as a persuasion device is just now coming into view. It is critical for litigators to study this field and to understand the insights it has developed. See, Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed.

3. Big firm litigators rarely try cases: As a result of this new reality, litigators must get a new kind of help - help from trial tested litigation consultants. These courtroom experts may participate in 50-100 trials per year. It just stands to reason that they can help a litigator who is in court far less frequently. See, With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

4. Using PowerPoint incorrectly does more harm than good. Most lawyers will actually design slides for themselves that will reduce overall persuasion - but they don't have to. See, How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?

5. Juror expectations are on the rise: Jurors expect litigators to wow them a bit with graphics and to keep them interested. They know what can be done in the form of graphics and at a lower price than ever before. See, Will Being Folksy and Low-Tech Help You Win a Case?

6. The ability to test is on the rise: The often high price of mock trials scares off many, but almost every case deserves some form of testing. To make this possible, our firm and others have developed a wide range of testing methodologies that can fit every budget. See, Introducing a New Litigation Consulting Service: the Micro-Mock™

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7. Persuasive visuals are everywhere. From White House press releases, to the courtroom, to advocacy organizations, the world is waking up to the power of persuasive graphics. See, Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You

8. All filings use visuals now. It used to be incredibly rare to see persuasive litigation graphics used in court filings, but now it is commonplace. See, 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not)

9. Law firms will become even more like businesses: Law firm marketing, business development and PR were unheard of 20 years ago. Law firm pricing strategies are a new and emerging field. Yet all of these areas are normal functions of even small businesses. Increasingly, law firms will look more like businesses going forward, embracing more transparency and developing sales teams. See, 24 Things to Know About The "New Normal" of The Legal Economy

10. Courtrooms are more electronic, but there are not all there yet. We still bring equipment into most trials. There are many things you need to check with the court. And a great deal still depends on the predilections of the judge. See, Trial Technicians, Hot-Seat Operators and Trial Technology

11. The science of persuasion is real science. Neurological research has shown that particular regions of the brain are activated when a person is persuaded by an argument. New findings are constantly emerging. See, 8 Videos and 7 Articles About the Science of Courtroom Persuasion

12. For a small trial, you can use an iPad and TrialDirector (for free). It's not something you want to try in a document intensive case, but for a case with a handful of documents and just a few video depositions, this is now a reasonable strategy to consider. See, 5 Tips for Using TrialDirector and Trial Technicians Effectively

13. Mock hearings are routine. From mock Markman hearings, to mock Federal Circuit appeals, trial consultants can and do provide mock sessions that hone litigators’ skills and show them what to expect. See, 11 Surprising Areas Where We Are Using Mock Exercises and Testing

14. Graphics in depositions. We are increasingly being called upon to create demonstrative evidence to be used during depositions. See these deposition articles generally.

15. Animation is used selectively. Once, animation was the be-all-end-all of the demonstrative evidence industry. 3D animation at least is now only used in big ticket cases involving complicated mechanisms that must be seen from multiple angles or anytime we want a jury to experience "seeing is believing." See, What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples)

16. Animation is more PowerPoint than Pixar. These days, we create a lot of animation, but almost all of it is done in PowerPoint. Now, don't be fooled, you can do some pretty sophisticated work in PowerPoint now. Have a look: 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

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17. Voir dire testing is real science not gut instinct. There was a time when jury consultants were a lot of flash, bravado and gut instinct. Those days are now gone. Now, the great jury consultants let data based on testing speak about how best to conduct jury selection. See, 12 Insider Tips for Choosing a Jury Consultant

18. Judge expectations. Just as juror expectations have risen so have the expectations of most judges. They are not looking for CSI. Rather, they are looking for a much more efficient presentation of the evidence through the use of well thought through litigation graphics and even the design of ipad-compatible hyperlinked briefs. See, Hyperlinking Briefs: Be More Persuasive Using The iPad

19. The use of litigation consultants as coaches is on the rise. I know I'm biased, but if I were in-house, I would insist that my outside litigators worked with a firm like ours. With so much at stake and so few trials occuring, getting a third-party view of a case has enormous ROI in a big-ticket case. See, 25 Things In-House Counsel Should Insist Outside Litigation Counsel Do

20. Great litigation consulting firms endure, adapt and grow. Our firm was founded as an animation for lawyers firm, then it became a graphics for lawyers firm, then a litigation consulting firm (as far as I know we coined the use of that term in 1998), then a trial technology and litigation graphics firm, then a jury consulting and litigation graphics firm, and now our work advising in-house counsel about how to get great results from outside litigation counsel is taking A2L into new areas still. We'll keep adapting and growing, and I hope you'll join us in that effort. 

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, iPad, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Storytelling, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, CLE, Persuasion

Can State and Local Governments Afford Litigation Consultants?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Sep 21, 2015 @ 10:19 AM

state local government jury consultants graphics litigation consultants pricingby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Well, yes, of course they can. In fact, we are hired by them with some frequency. Let’s be specific.

Our firm is just about 20 years old, and while our typical client is a medium-sized to mega-sized law firm, we work with a government entity every month of the year. Usually, our work is on behalf of some entity of the federal government, typically the U.S. Department of Justice or some other agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

A typical large engagement for A2L Consulting would involve conducting several multi-panel mock trials that would help inform the development of litigation graphics, the jury selection, and the overall trial strategy. It would involve the development of litigation graphics for both sides of the case through the mock trial. It would also involve a full development of our side of the case, including the incorporation of storytelling techniques into the opening statement presentation. It would then involve a trial technician who would develop the database of video depositions and documentary evidence for instantaneous display.

This is not what a government entity hires A2L for.More typically a government engagement, whether local, state or federal, would involve a subset of one of our service areas. Instead of a large multi-panel mock trial, a focus group study or micro-mock is often used. Instead of a deep and protracted engagement with the development of litigation graphics over months, incorporating storytelling and opening statement practice sessions, often our engagements will be limited to either the development of an opening statement, practice sessions, or a consulting engagement to help incorporate storytelling techniques.

After all, some of the cases in which state and local governments are involved are high-priority matters, such as environmental cleanup, zoning, eminent domain, and employment cases, where millions of dollars may be at stake. We know that we can help clients like this, even though they may have a limited budget.

We've written before about how to save money when engaging litigation consultants. Sometimes, this involves asking the right questions. Sometimes, it involves understanding the most cost-effective ways to proceed. Sometimes, it involves communicating your budget to your litigation consulting firm, even if it is only $5,000, and asking what is possible. Something is always possible.

The articles below will help make you an expert in using litigation consultants in a cost-effective manner.

Other articles related to trial presentation services and cost saving tips from A2L include:

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Pricing, Advocacy Graphics

How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Sep 18, 2015 @ 07:15 AM

by Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.
A2L Consulting

too many words powerpoint slides litigation graphicsLawyers love words. Lawyers love words on slides - tons of words on slides. Some lawyers think that the more words they use on a PowerPoint litigation graphic, the better.

They are wrong. Actually, using too many words on a slide will dramatically damage your effectiveness.

This damage is not aesthetic in nature. This is not about your look and feel. It is scientifically proven damage that affects how well you inform and persuade your audience. Indeed, it can be said the higher your slide's word count, the lower your persuasiveness.

At A2L, we see this every day. Sometimes the trial team prepares their slides in draft form and they have paragraphs of text. Sometimes a trial team just converts their Microsoft Word outline into Microsoft PowerPoint. Sometimes a trial team edits the PowerPoint slides that we create by adding more words.

There are many reasons this occurs. Some lawyers mistakenly believe they are creating a record by including the text. That’s not true. The trial record is something entirely different. Some lawyers want the text on screen so that they have notes to follow and can remember what to say. Some lawyers want to quote relevant text from documents in evidence.

In just about every case, they are making a mistake.

In a nutshell, here's why too much text is a bad idea. There is hard science behind each point:

In fact, probably the only time it makes sense to have lots of text on a slide is when you are specifically trying to obfuscate and confuse. That's a legitimate tactic, but you don't want to employ it unintentionally.

Below are a number of articles and resources discussing the use of PowerPoint litigation graphics that help you think about this text problem in more detail.

powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Bullet Points, PowerPoint, Visual Persuasion, Information Design, Persuasion

Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 5 - Proper Use of Litigation Graphics

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 @ 09:33 AM

immersive-trial-graphics-broda-bahm-studyby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & Gen. Counsel
A2L Consulting

In our last post in this “Winning Before Trial” series, we showed that demonstrative graphics are a mandatory component of any litigation. If you’re not using them and your opposing counsel is using them, you’re in serious trouble. But what kind of graphics work? The answer to that question is not very intuitive.

A study by Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, a litigation and jury consultant, investigated the effectiveness of various communication techniques in the eyes of jurors. Interestingly, this study found that there really wasn’t much difference in effectiveness when comparing the effect on jurors of (1) no graphics at all; (2) simple flip charts; (3) static and sporadic graphics; and (4) animated and sporadic graphics. However, when the “jurors” were immersed in litigation graphics, meaning that the attorney always gave them something to see while presenting his argument, the effectiveness of the litigation graphics dramatically increased. 

Jurors who were immersed in graphics were better prepared on the subject matter, felt it was more important, paid more attention, comprehended it better, and retained more information. Immersion is your goal as a litigator whether in the courtroom or in pre-trial filings.

Please note as well that you can’t just make some PowerPoint slides and bring them to trial or a pre-trial hearing. Putting everything you say, word for word, on a slide will actually decrease your fact-finder's understanding and retention of the point you are trying to make. This is called the redundancy effect. It is a result of people’s limited working memory. It’s a well-known psychological phenomenon that has been the focus of significant research. Basically, the result of making a graphic showing exactly what you’re simultaneously saying is worse than ineffective. It has the effect of shutting down your audience’s brain. You are subjecting your audience to a “cognitive load” that their brains can’t handle, so they stop taking in any information.

Another key lesson in developing trial graphics for an electronic presentation: Don’t use bullet points. They are unprofessional and will kill your presentation. None of the most effective presenters use them. Using bullets probably means that your presentation is text-heavy, which is a barrier to effective communication.

People read faster than they hear – 150 words per minute spoken versus 275 words per minute reading. People will read your bullets before you can say them, and they will stop listening. If jurors are spending time and brainpower reading your trial graphics presentation, they are not listening. Just using that little bullet dot makes your presentation boring.

However, the use of bullet points and other visual cues in your pre-trial filings is strongly encouraged. Here, bullets help highlight important information and the reader is not both hearing and seeing the information simultaneously.

Next, we will take a look at the views of the top experts on the visual presentation of information.

Other articles and resources on A2L Consulting's site related to litigation graphics, storytelling for persuasion, trial graphics and demonstrative evidence:

pretrial trial graphics motions briefs hearings

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Persuasive Graphics

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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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