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The Litigation Consulting Report

How to Handle a Boring Case

Posted by Laurie Kuslansky on Fri, May 29, 2015 @ 11:32 AM


boring-case-litigation-trial-juryby Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Managing Director, Jury Consulting
A2L Consulting

I once asked an actuary why he chose that profession, and he replied, “Because I didn’t have enough personality to become an accountant.” The truth is, though, that nearly everything is interesting in some way. It’s the rare case, for example, that’s really dry as dust.

But many cases have aspects that are, at first glance, boring. As an advocate, what do you do when faced with one of them? Here are some suggestions.

1.  Use the boredom to your advantage. There may be facts that are not advantageous to your side. Don’t emphasize them, and they may not draw attention.

2.  For points that are advantageous, create excitement. Use verbal “drum rolls,” as in “Now THIS is really important.” Or, “If you remember just ONE thing about this case, it should be . . . ”

3.  Create visual distractions. Your graphics don’t have to be black and white blow-ups of Excel spreadsheets. There are many ways to put forth the same information, but making them interesting takes a professional and an artist/designer, not a paralegal or an associate with no training in information graphics.

Another approach is to create a memorable experience by evoking discomfort. For example, you could simply present a list of airline bankruptcies and say that no one wants to see one more, or you could develop an uncomfortably long scrolling list that presents the same information in a thought-provoking way.



4.  Work with the jury.  Acknowledge that there is information in the case that may be less than interesting, but add that you will do your best to keep it moving. Then keep your word. 

5.  If the stakes warrant it, pre-test the case through mock-jury research, searching for ways to streamline the case so that the trial is neither longer nor more tedious than it needs to be. Learn the themes that emerge, the ways that lay people express the issues in their own terms, what they find confusing, what matters to them, and what aspects of the case, if any, they don’t view as boring. Perhaps the most exciting point is damaging to your case. It’s better to know in advance.

6.  Bring out the significance of your expert instead of assuming that the jury knows it already. Here’s where name-dropping can be helpful.  “Our expert has a doctorate from Harvard and trained at the London School of Economics.” Or, “Our expert worked on these issues for the largest accounting firm in America.” Make sure that the expert exudes confidence, but not arrogance, looks the part, and speaks in language lay people understand. Bring out the expert’s accomplishments graphically and explain them in a way that the jury will understand.

7.  Use graphics to keep things moving. If you show jurors (and judges) something good to look at, it keeps them interested, reinforces memory, makes you appear more competent and organized, and cuts down on boredom.

8.  Use mixed media. Don’t present everything in a PowerPoint. Mix it up, switching at a comfortable pace between slides on screen to enlarged boards, from static images to animations, etc.

9.  If appropriate, use humor. Instead of being the egghead with the nerdy information that no one else can relate to or appreciate, bond with jurors by seeing it from their perspective.  If you can’t do that, add someone to the trial team who can.

10.  Now THIS is really important and if you remember just ONE thing, it is that nothing has to be boring.  It’s up to you. The moment you acknowledge that it is, and find a way to link it to other people’s experience, especially in ways that are potentially universal, teach people in a way that is painless and aesthetically pleasing, and find a way to tell a story about it, ta da! It isn’t boring any more.

Other articles about using litigation graphics, use of humor, being likable and more from A2L Consulting:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Mock Trial, Juries, Jury Consultants, PowerPoint

7 Award-Winning LitigationWorld Articles

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 01:07 PM


litigationworld-450by Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

We just learned that a blog post that we wrote recently was named the “Pick of the Week” by LitigationWorld, a popular email newsletter for litigators, litigation support professionals, and corporate counsel who manage litigation. This is the seventh A2L Consulting post since 2011 to be so honored.
For each issue of LitigationWorld, the editorial team there reviews hundreds of articles published during the previous week. From these articles, one is selected as LitigationWorld Pick of the Week. The article is selected because the editors there believe that it is a must-read for anyone interested in litigation.
The article that won this honor was entitled “12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think.”
Many awards that are given out these days are meaningless because marketing can play a role in determining who wins. By contrast, those who win the LitigationWorld Pick of the Week award don't even know they're in the running and cannot influence the editorial team. That’s what makes this award meaningful to us.
The winning article, not surprisingly, lists 12 reasons that litigation graphics are more complicated than one might think. Among them: Litigation graphics must be more than merely electronic versions of printed documents; real litigation graphics experts are storytelling experts as well; and litigation graphics experts understand the psychology of a jury and how a litigator can use psychology to his or her advantage.
This prize-winning post is only one example. Our blog is full of interesting and useful thoughts about trials, juries and litigation. The American Bar Association recently named A2L's Litigation Consulting Report blog one of the eight best in the litigation industry. Below is a list of the seven articles that LitigationWorld has named Pick of the Week.

  1. 21 Ingenious Ways to Research Your Judge

  2. 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think

  3. 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

  4. 10 Things Litigators Can Learn From Newscasters

  5. 10 Ways to Spot Your Jury Foreman

  6. 8 Reasons to be Optimistic About the Litigation Economy

  7. Your Trial Presentation Must Answer: Why Are You Telling Me That?

We're hard at work on writing new articles, and I'm very interested in hearing from you how we can be even better. To that end, if you have questions/ideas about The Litigation Consulting Report blog or about mock trials, litigation graphics for trial/ADR, trial technology/hot-seat operators or litigation advisory services for in-house counsel? Please comment below or write to Alex Brown at brown@A2LC.com. If you would like to subscribe or change how often you are notified about new blog articles articles? Click here.

Other articles that list our top blog posts, discuss A2L accolades or provide a useful directory of how to access information close to your interests include:

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Tags: Economics, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Judges, Awards

10 AmLaw 100 Firms That Love to Learn

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 11:08 AM


amlaw-100-best-love-to-learn-cleby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

There is a lot to learn from data, and these days data is everywhere. For better or worse, data can be available for everything from the number of steps you walked today to how long you took to read a particular Web page.

I recently took the time to assess how the AmLaw 100 law firms were interacting with our site, particularly with the articles on this blog. Some law firms are very active, and some hardly visit at all — and I think this information tells us a great deal about these law firms.

This data is interesting to me for many reasons. First, I’m interested in making sure that our articles appeal to the AmLaw 100 law firms, as just about every one of them has been a client of A2L Consulting at some point. However, I’m also interested in what the data says about the law firm itself. Is the firm interested in learning?  Is it serious about litigation? Is it set in its ways?

After more than 20 years of supporting top litigators, I find that there are litigators who like feedback from the courtroom experts on our staff, and there are litigators who simply want to do things their way. We work with both types, but our favorite is the former -- those litigators who say, “A2L, you're in court 50-100 times a year, and maybe I make it once a year, but it's not usually even that often any more. What advice do you have based on working with others like me, in similar cases and in this venue?”

In my experience, the litigators who present themselves and their cases this way are the ones who win most often. They have their own way of doing things, to be sure, but they are also open to taking a different approach when a high-quality idea is presented to them. Indeed, they solicit high-quality ideas and create an atmosphere where creativity happens.

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Our blog is written for people like that -- litigators who love to learn and want to improve their courtroom game. As an in-house lawyer said to me recently, “Many lawyers are trying cases the same way they did 30 years ago, but juries are deciding cases differently than they did 30 years ago.” Adapt or lose is the new mantra for high-end litigators.

If I were hiring litigators, this data would give me something to consider. After all, do you want the type of litigator who is flexible and staying up with the latest trends, or one who is set in his or her ways? Do you want one who is reading top litigation blogs with trial tips, or one who is satisfied with the old approach?

Below are two lists that rank the AmLaw 100 firms by the number of times that firm has watched one of our webinars or downloaded one of our litigation e-books. The second list shows how many verified and known visitors from that firm there have been.

Before telling you what the data reveals, I have some caveats. I’m only including data from verified visitors to our site whose identify we are sure of, based on their download history and other activity with our site. So the raw data is really a small sample of those who visit our site each month, since the vast majority of visitors have not left their name with us yet. Thus, the raw data understates the number of page views and visits considerably, probably by a factor of ten times or more. Since you have to provide your email, the number of downloads is quite precise and actually more telling except when someone has used Gmail. What is useful and interesting is how the law firms compare to each other. This data reflects about four years of visits.

These ten AmLaw 100 firms have downloaded more e-books and watched more webinars than the other 90 firms in that comparison group.

  1. Greenberg Traurig
  2. Jones Day
  3. K&L Gates
  4. Kirkland & Ellis
  5. Fish & Richardson
  6. Ogletree Deakins
  7. Kilpatrick Townsend
  8. Jackson Lewis
  9. Fox Rothschild
  10. Lewis Brisbois

These ten AmLaw 100 firms have viewed our site more than any other of their peer firms.

  1. Greenberg Traurig
  2. Fish & Richardson
  3. Haynes and Boone
  4. Kirkland & Ellis
  5. Jones Day
  6. Ogletree Deakins
  7. K&L Gates
  8. Pillsbury
  9. Latham & Watkins
  10. Bryan Cave

Interestingly, there was only one AmLaw 100 firm that showed no verified visitors, no downloads, and no one subscribing to our litigation blog (there are 6,600 subscribers). It's a big DC firm that we have a 100% win rate against in repeated cases over many years. Correlation? I sure think so.

Other articles related to best-practices, the role of in-house counsel guiding outside litigation counsel and continuous learning:

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Tags: Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, E-Book, Webinar, Articles, Trial Preparation, In-House Counsel, CLE

The Top 10 Litigation Articles From the Start of 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, May 12, 2015 @ 10:50 AM


top-10-litigation-articles-early-2015by Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

We publish a lot of articles on this blog here at A2L Consulting. Sometimes we publish so many that it’s not easy to decide which ones to read first.

That's why once a quarter we do a mini-retrospective of the best articles based on what our readers choose to look at. Our theory is that the more people that read an article, the more compelling and the better it is. All these articles relate in some way to persuasion: Why expensive-looking litigation graphics are better than inexpensive-looking ones, why you are less persuasive when you are using clichés, how people obtain trial experience these days when most cases don’t go to trial.

We think this also helps our readership sort through the very best of our content by relying on the votes of 6,600 fellow subscribers as indicated by their reading habits.

In the first quarter of 2015 we published 21 articles. The top article was read more than 4,000 times (so far).

Interestingly, the most-read article was about the famous “blue and black dress” that became an Internet meme, and what kind of trial evidence would be admissible to show what color the dress actually was. This tells us that people are fascinated not only by the dress and the optical illusions that it invoked, but also by the facts that the human mind and eye can easily be fooled and that evidence is necessary to solve the issue of the color of the dress. When you ask, what sort of evidence is necessary, you are already asking the question that a trial lawyer would ask.

The second most popular article described what in-house counsel often say about trial lawyers in major law firms. Again, the key was persuasion. Many in-house counsel said that what persuaded jurors 30 years ago is no longer what persuades them today. Many said that the details of the law were far less important than the need to tell a persuasive story at trial.

The third most-read article dealt with the well-known techniques of persuasion. Among them are the need to entertain the audience, connect with the audience, and respect the audience.

Here are the top trial and litigation consulting articles, in inverse order of how popular they were:

10. New and Free E-Book: The Voir Dire Handbook

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9. How PowerPoint Failures in Demonstrative Evidence Can Sink a Case

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8. How To Find Helpful Information Related to Your Practice Area

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7. Why Expensive-Looking Litigation Graphics Are Better

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

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5. Why The Use of Clichés Puts Your Persuasiveness at Risk

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

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

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2. 9 Things In-House Counsel Say About Outside Litigation Counsel

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

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Articles, Voir Dire, In-House Counsel, Persuasion

12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, May 1, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

litigation-graphics-complicated-trial-graphicsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting
If the creation of litigation graphics were as simple as some people make it out to be, you would never need a litigation graphics consultant. Yet litigation graphics consultants of varying skill levels are everywhere these days. Clearly, there is a need for them. But why? What value do litigation graphics consultants add? It’s a fair question, and here are 12 good answers.
1. Contrary to what some think, litigation graphics are more than electronic versions of printed documents: Many litigators make the mistake of thinking they are fully utilizing litigation graphics when they hire a trial technician who does nothing more than show documents on screen. See Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics
2. Real litigation graphics consultants are storytelling experts, not PowerPoint experts: The technology isn’t what matters. As with lawyers, there are wildly differing levels of talent and education among litigation graphics consultants. The very best, like those on the A2L team, are true experts in helping to craft a story using visuals. These experts add value, not just slides. See Patent Litigation Graphics + Storytelling Proven Effective: The Apple v. Samsung Jury Speaks and $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation
3. Litigation graphics consultants provide the creativity that your trial team may not have. When it comes to litigation graphics, our customer surveys tell us that it is our creativity that is valued most by our clients. See Working in Parallel vs. Series with Trial Presentation Consultants
4. Your time is too valuable. You need to focus on the “law track,” which is what lawyers are best at. You must consider the order of how you will present your case, how to develop an evidentiary record and how to prepare your witnesses. Allow litigation graphics experts to do the heavy lifting in the persuasion area. See Planning For Courtroom Persuasion? Use a Two-Track Trial Strategy and How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?
5. We have dozens of psychological tricks for influencing people with pictures. We have written about some of these: See Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias and Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?
6. We have a kind of magic that you don’t have in your law firm. Even if you have some graphics people in your firm, there is no one in your law firm who can do the kind of work illustrated here: 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint. Although there are rare exceptions, artists within law firms are usually either not the best or are on their way to working somewhere else: 13 Reasons Law Firm Litigation Graphics Departments Have Bad Luck
7. We understand the psychology of a jury and how you can use psychology to your advantage. We also know how you can hurt your case when you use litigation graphics the wrong way. For us, this is second nature. For litigators, this is not common sense at all: See Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors and 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations
8. We can help you spot dirty tricks by the opposition. There are many subterfuges in litigation graphics consulting, and you will mostly likely overlook them but you shouldn't. Many of the tricks are objectionable and offer an opportunity for you to score points with judge and jury by pointing them out, but you have to see them. See 5 Demonstrative Evidence Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For
9. Your colleagues are doing litigation graphics all wrong. They're good people I'm sure, and we know they are smart too. However, the normal instinctive way to use PowerPoint (bullets, text, reading slides) is precisely the wrong way. Unfortunately, that's what we see most often. See 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) and The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make
10. We spend a lot more time in courtrooms than you do. The same trial lawyers who used to go to trial every year 10 or 20 years ago, now often go to trial only every three, five, or even seven years. In stark contrast, our team may go to trial 50 or even 100 times every year. Common sense should tell you to trust what we have to say about how visuals will land with a judge and jury. See With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?
11. Whenever a well-educated fresh pair of eyes works on your case with you, you will find something incredibly valuable about it. See 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant and How I Used Litigation Graphics as a Litigator and How You Could Too
12. Anyone can make a PowerPoint, but only an experienced trial consulting team like A2L can make a PowerPoint that is convincing.

Other articles and resources related to litigation graphics, trial graphics and demonstrative evidence consultants from A2L Consulting: 

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Demonstrative Evidence, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion

NEW & FREE 219-Page Opening Statements Toolkit E-Book

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 @ 08:34 AM


opening-statement-toolkit-ebook-tipsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

I'm absolutely thrilled to announce the release of A2L Consulting's latest free litigation e-book, The Opening Statement Toolkit. You may download this book with no strings attached right now by clicking here.
In this 219-page book, you will find 66 articles curated from A2L's massive collection of posts related to litigation and persuasion. Each article relates to opening statements in some way. From organizing the opening to the use of storytelling techniques to persuade, the book contains an amazing array of tips that will prove valuable to the novice litigator and the veteran alike.

At A2L, we firmly believe that the opening statement is the most important part of a trial. If you win the battle of opening statements, you stand a pretty good chance of winning the case. This is true since many jurors make up their minds during opening statements -- or they at least develop a view of the case through which they will perceive all of the subsequently presented evidence.
At A2L, we frequently have the opportunity to help trial teams develop their opening statements. Perhaps more importantly, we also have a chance to help test what works in opening statements. There are often surprises, and good science is still emerging about what works.
The articles in this book are intended to help you develop the best opening statement that you can. Often, the opening statement is when jurors form strong opinions about the ultimate winners and losers in a case — but it does not have to be that way  There are best practices for affecting judge and juror decision-making, and many of these are described in these articles.
Among the valuable articles in the book are: Five Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements; How to Structure Your Next Speech, Opening Statement or Presentation; Five Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion; Six Reasons the Opening Statement is the Most Important Part of a Case; and How to Emotionally Move Your Audience.
It is easy to download the book and have it at your fingertips, and it’s a free download. Your opening statements will never be the same.

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, E-Book, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Opening, Persuasion

5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 4

Posted by Ryan Flax on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 @ 03:25 PM


persuasion-opening-statements-words-graphicsby Ryan H. Flax, Esq.
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We have discussed four important tips for maximizing persuasion during your opening statement (See parts 1, 2, and 3). The last tip is the use of demonstrative evidence in connection with the statement.

You need to be aware that most people, other than lawyers, are visual preference learners. Most lawyers, in contrast, are auditory or kinesthetic preference learners.1 Most people teach the same way they prefer to learn – so lawyers typically teach by lecturing, since that is most comfortable for them. But this strategy does not help with the majority of jurors, who would prefer to be taught visually, at least in part. So bridge this courtroom gap with demonstrative evidence, including litigation graphics.

You cannot just relay information and be persuasive. A study has shown that lawyers who use PowerPoint in their opening statements enhance persuasion though jurors’ central and peripheral processing.2 In that study, the use of litigation graphics made the lawyers appear (in jurors’ eyes) more competent, more credible and more likable, helped jurors retain information better, and resulted in better verdicts.

Another study shows that you cannot just show some graphics once in a while during your opening statement, but you must immerse the jury in visuals throughout the entirety of your opening.3 Immersion means constantly providing visuals for an audience throughout a presentation.

powerpoint-litigation-persuasive-courtroomKen Broda-Bahm, Ph.D., tested this by presenting opening statements to jurors accompanied by no graphics, old-school-style flip chart graphics, sporadically shown professionally made graphics, and sporadically shown animated graphics. Surprisingly, he found that none of these techniques were persuasively distinguishable. Only when he used the immersion technique did he find that persuasion was significantly improved. With this technique, jurors were found to be more prepared on the evidence, they paid more attention, they felt the evidence was more important, they comprehended better, and they retained information longer.

However, you cannot just make some PowerPoint slides and run off to court and be persuasive. The easiest and most common way lawyers make their own trial presentations is by outlining or scripting an argument in Word and then copying and pasting that script into PowerPoint. This is worse than ineffective and all but promises to harm your case.

Interestingly, a recent study shows that the perceived cost of something matters.4 The study researched the effectiveness of placebos on patients with Parkinson’s disease and found that placebos were effective but that patients who believed they were getting more expensive drugs got significantly more effectiveness from their placebos. This translates to trial persuasiveness in that if your trial graphics seem expensive, jurors will believe that you and your case are better, all things being equal.

Never simultaneously say what you’re also showing in a graphic (this does not necessarily go for something you’re affirmatively quoting). A well-researched phenomenon called the redundancy effect happens when you do this and the result is your jurors’ brains are switched off and they stop taking in any information at all.5 You’ve subjected them to a cognitive load that their brains cannot handle and, so, they turn off. This is not desirable in an opening statement.

And never use bullet point lists as your graphics.6 No great presenter does this. This is often the result of the self-prepared graphics that I mentioned a minute ago where you transfer your script of outline to slides. Using bullets probably means your presentation is “text-heavy,” which is a barrier to effective communication. Also, people can read and understand faster than they can listen to you and understand: 275 words per minute vs. 150 words per minute. By using bullet lists you’ve challenged your audience to read your slides before you can explain their content, and your audience will win every time and stop listening.


The “Don’ts”

Finally, as an extra bit of info, here are some things to avoid in opening statements.

Don’t re-introduce yourself. Don’t waste your first 90 seconds of opening by re-explaining who you are. It’s likely that the judge has already done this or that the jury has heard it already. Even if that’s not the case, wait a few minutes to do it if it must be done.

Don’t pander. Don’t tell the jurors how important their job is or how great it is that they’re doing their civic duty or how thankful you are that they’re here. This is patronizing, and they’ll know it and resent you for it. If you must, simply say that you appreciate their time and are going to try and get them through the trial as efficiently as you can.

Don’t explain how an opening statement works. Don’t explain that your statement isn’t evidence. The judge might do that, but you sure as heck shouldn’t. Most likely, your jurors won’t distinguish between actual evidence, demonstrative evidence, and attorney argument. Why enlighten them?

Don’t tell jurors how proud you are to represent your client. I hear this so often and cringe every time. It’s not persuasive. It sounds insincere. It’s B.S. and jurors will know.

Don’t oversell your case. If you know you cannot prove something, don’t say you can. Promising more than you can deliver will hurt your case and, potentially, constitutes reversible error.

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

One-Question Survey  What Webinar Topic  Should A2L Cover Next?


[1] Attorney Communications Style Study (Jan 2, 2007) (available at http://www.a2lc.com/pressarticles/presslearningstudy.html).

[2] Jaihyun Park and Neal Feigenson, Effects of a Visual Technology on Mock Juror Decision Making, Appl. Cognit. Psychol. 27:235-46 (2013)

[3] Dr.Ken Broda-Bahm, Persuasive Litigator: Show, don’t Just Tell, http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2011/07/show-dont-just-tell-continuity.html (2011).

[4] Espay et al., Placebo Effect of Medication Cost in Parkinson Disease, Neurology vol. 84, No. 8, 794-802 (Feb 24, 2015).

[5] See, e.g., Mayer et al., Cognitive Constraints on Multimedia Learning: When Presenting More Materials Results in Less Understanding, J. Edu. Psych. Vol. 93, No. 1, 187-98 (2001).

[6] See, generally, research by Dr. Chris Atherton (e.g., https://youtu.be/OwOuVc1Qrlg).

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Bullet Points, PowerPoint, Redundancy Effect, Opening, Persuasion

[Survey] What Webinar Topic Would You Like Us to Cover Next?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 @ 04:00 PM


free-litigation-webinar-a2l-consultingby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

A2L Consulting offered its first free litigation webinar just 18 months ago. Since then we've conducted six litigation focused webinars, all free, including:

These webinars may be viewed on our site anytime, and they have been viewed nearly 10,000 times already. I find that amazing.

Since each new webinar is a bit more popular than the one that came before it, it's a bit hard to tell which topics are really the most popular. So, I thought it would be helpful to ask our 6,500 blog readers what topic we should cover in our next webinar (likely May or June). Finding a good webinar presenter will not be difficult. On the A2L team, we have expert jury consultants, trial-tested litigators, experts in persuasion science, the top consultants in visual persuasion and many categories of litigation and persuasion experts. 

By looking at our web traffic and the searches used to find A2L Consulting or free information in the 400+ free articles we provide on our site, we can get a good idea of what is interesting to our audience. In the one-question survey below, I have included the top-ten topics our visitors look for plus a write-in option.

Please choose one of the ten topics below or write in a new topic, and we will develop our next webinar around the topic our audience favors most. When you answer the question, you'll be able to see the results tallied so far. Thank you for being a subscriber!

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Jury Consultants, Animation, Jury Selection, Bullet Points

7 Lessons of Design That are Universal (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 @ 11:35 AM


good-design-parking-signs-litigation-graphicsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

I love great design. While it is becoming somewhat more common than it used to be, it’s still rare – and it’s even rarer in the courtroom.
To be clear, my definition of great design includes everything from an interface like what one sees in a Tesla to the adaptive reuse of a historic structure to a well-crafted litigation graphic that tells a story clearly and without the need for further explanation.
One place we don't expect to see great design is in parking signs, when we are parking the car and trying to figure out where to park and where not to park. I live in Washington, D.C., where they have some signage that would seem to violate every principle of great design. This one pictured here is a classic, and you probably have some just like it in your town.
Does that look familiar? Well, one pilot program in Los Angeles is trying to change all that and make parking signs inspiring from a design perspective. Each sign contains a simple chart that is immediately clear to almost anyone. Green and red overlaid with symbols helps provide a clear message. Here’s an example below.
los-angeles-parking-sign-good-design-litigation-graphics-timelineThere is of course a lesson for the courtroom here. Clear design matters, and it matters a lot. If your litigation graphics look more DC than LA, you’re probably leaving judges and jurors frustrated -- just as frustrated as you feel when you’re trying to interpret a poorly designed sign with lots of text.
As Jonathan Ive, Apple’s longtime chief designer and a close associate of the late Steve Jobs, once said, “Make each product the best it can be. Focus on form and materials. What we don’t include is as important as what we do include.”
Let's review seven key principles of good design when it comes to the courtroom.
  1. In all presentations, ban the bullet point. The only thing that on-screen bullets kill is your persuasion.
  2. Use well-crafted exhibits. The better looking your trial graphics, the better received you will be.
  3. Don't use only pictures. People learn in different ways, and both surprise and changing mediums of persuasion will make you more effective.
  4. Don't use only words. Same as above.
  5. Don’t use only static slides. You want to present more like the national news and less like a CLE.
  6. Use lots of slides. More slides is generally more effective. 
  7. Stick to one concept per click. People need more time to digest information than you think they do.

If you start here, you may not be as great a designer as Ive, but you will be a long way down the right path.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources focused on good design in trial graphics, litigation graphics and persuasive visuals generally:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Washington D.C., Persuasion, Los Angeles

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

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 @ 01:33 PM


trial-timeline-litigation-slidingby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

I love a good trial timeline whether it's a printed large-format trial board or whether it's in PowerPoint form. This goes for my colleagues here at A2L, as well. In fact, we love timelines so much that we've even produced a book with more than 30 types of trial timelines illustrated.

Timelines are used as demonstrative evidence in just about every trial. They serve an obvious purpose of orienting judge and/or jury to the order of events and how those events relate to one another. It's the one exhibit that helps make sense of it all, particularly in a complex case.

As our trial timine book discusses, a timeline does not have to be limited to simple chronologies. In fact by incorporating graphs, photos, color schemes and more, a timeline can transmute from being simply informative to being quite persuasive.

When I first launched A2L back in the mid-1990s, timelines were almost exclusively printed on large trial boards. There were many advantages to this approach. Sometimes we had to use as many as five tiled boards standing next to each other to make a complicated case make sense and show many events over a long period of time.

Click me

Relative to the 1990s, very few printed trial boards get produced these days, although we still prepare a good number each month. One of the best exhibits to use a printed trial board for is the timeline, because you can often leave it up in front of a jury or judge and help them stay oriented to your case. However what happens when you can't or don't want to print a large timeline on a board?

There are a couple of good techniques for designing timelines in PowerPoint, Prezi or Keynote that allow you to create the illusion of a much bigger canvas than you can otherwise show legibly in PowerPoint. I've written about this approach in Prezi before, but I continue to advise against using that program at trial because of issues people have with motion sickness.

The sliding timeline technique is a great method to use when you have many events over a long period of time. By creating a transition between slides that mimics sliding a large piece of paper across the screen you help keep your audience oriented and in touch with the passage of time. Have a look at the simple two-slide example below to see what I mean.


In this PowerPoint trial timeline that compares the role of testifying experts and consulting experts, we move along the litigation lifecyle in a case from complaint to discovery by sliding the timeline across the screen using a push from right transition. I think it does a good job creating a fluid and elegant transition, and it helps the jury clearly appreciate when you're going forwards and backwards in time. It's a simple lesson, but it is one I see frequently underutilized. Dig into the articles, books and webinars below to learn more.

Other articles and resources from A2L Consulting discussing trial timelines, printed trial boards, PowerPoint and litigation graphics generally:

trial timeline trial graphics litigation courtroom timelines


Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Visual Persuasion, Timelines, Prezi

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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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