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The Litigation Consulting Report

5 Reasons Why Jury Consulting Is Very Important

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 @ 03:45 PM

iStock_50484796_SMALL.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

When I was a practicing lawyer, trying high-stakes cases in the major law firm world, many of my colleagues would often cast doubt on the need for jury consultants and mock trials. They would say that as experienced trial lawyers, they already had a good feel for a jury and for the art of persuasion. In addition, lawyers would argue that very few reliable conclusions could be drawn from the attitudes and outlooks of a small number of mock jurors. Actually, this is a rather short-sighted way to approach the topic. A jury consultant can add immeasurable value to a trial team’s efforts in any number of ways. Here are five of them: 

  1. Theme development. Working with a mock jury provides invaluable research into what themes will work with the actual jury and what themes will not work. The mock jury will get a chance to hear several proposed themes for your side, as well as the way in which the opposition can be expected to rebut those themes. Interviewing the mock jurors will shed considerable light on what works for them, emotionally, and what does not.
  1. Message clarity. Many lawyers on a trial team get lost in the weeds and develop countless lines of information without any concern for whether they contribute to their side’s main narrative. It is very easy to review documents for their own sake without any consideration of why they should care about the documents. A mock trial will force all those attorneys to focus on the facts that really matter to their case and will provide the needed discipline.
  1. Development of visuals. A mock trial is a trial run for your visuals as well as for your theme development. It’s a way of “pressure-testing” the litigation graphics that your side has planned to use and seeing if they work in the real world. Ask your mock jurors whether or not the proposed visuals did enough to make the complex ideas of the case easy to understand for a nonlawyer. If they jurors are still perplexed about your case, they will tell you that in no uncertain terms. Be prepared to ditch the graphics that you have been using and to develop different ones, or to add new ones.
  1. Juror attitudes. After a mock trial, you will have a much better idea of what kinds of people are not going to be good jurors for your side. By interviewing the jurors after the mock, you will get a sense of whose world view will fit in perfectly with your message and whose view is quite the opposite to your message. You will never have a real jury that’s 100 percent on your side, but a mock trial will help you increase that percentage. Those jurors who see the world the way you do can and will be your “advocates” on the jury during deliberations.
  1. Support for your recommendations. Sometimes you as a trial consultant will have some difficulty getting your client to accept your view of the case. A mock trial can provide the support that you may need. A mock jury is another set of eyes that will evaluate your case independently and may see things the way that you do. In any case, a mock trial is a good way for everyone on your team to park their egos and listen.

Articles from A2L Consulting about jury consulting, mock trials, litigation consulting, and trial consulting: 

Jury Consulting Mock Trial


Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Jury Consultants

Visual Metaphors, Analogies & Persuasion: Convince to Win

Posted by Jeanne Cannarozzi on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 @ 02:08 PM

metaphor-analogy-lawyers-courtroom-elephant-room.jpgby Jeanne Cannarozzi
Business Development Manager
A2L Consulting

Trial teams often struggle to find just the right analogy or metaphor to help convince a jury. As persuasion consultants, our role is very often that of finding options for analogies or metaphors for a trial team to consider. It's one of those times when our office looks a lot like an advertising agency with a group trying to brainstorm. I want to share some resources used by our team in coming up with good techniques for trial teams to use.

Aristotle posits that analogies "give names to nameless things.” Cognitive science has proved that humans process new, unfamiliar concepts and understand them by comparing them to familiar concepts and experiences. The concepts of “analogical reasoning” and “analogical transfer” as described by Dr. Dedre Gentner and her co-authors [PDF], and many other researchers in the field of cognitive science, have helped us understand that human cognition is inherently metaphorical.

In the same fashion, analogies are used to convince the judge or audience by presenting similarities between two things that are otherwise not alike. The use of full case-based analogies involves more criteria than does the use of metaphors, such as the jurisdiction, the number of relevant cases that speak to the issues, and the facts and relevant laws.

A visual case-based analogy can be very effective and even crucial in science-based cases by demonstrating the connection between the present case and a favorable outcome in a prior case -- most persuasively from the same jurisdiction as the present case. You can think of the connection itself in this type of analogy as a definitive road map with a very direct route, no detours and a known destination. 

Metaphors are used to show a hidden or implied connection of two different things, ideas, or activities by symbolically representing the similarities and relationships between them. There is an inherent creative freedom in the use of metaphors because there are many ideas, behaviors, images, and expressions that have a universal meaning. Litigators can introduce metaphors to make comparisons and to point out subtle similarities between the present case and a previous case.

We have used each these techniques in litigation frequently and have written some useful articles in the past about each. 

  • Visual metaphors: In this article, Courtroom Exhibits: Analogies and Metaphors as Persuasion Devices, we write about this powerful tool. In general, these tools are very persuasive as they connect something that people already understand to something complicated about the case before them. Unlike a verbal metaphor, a visual metaphor is harder to split.
  • Analogies and Metaphors: We've created lists of lists of analogies, metaphors and idioms that help us and the lawyers we work with to find just the right tool for a particular case. In this article, Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers, we list some of those.

Other free articles from A2L Consulting discussing how to convey complex concepts, use litigation graphics to persuade, and influencing decisionmaking with pictures:

mock jury webinar a2l kuslansky  

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Courtroom Presentations, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

Should You Read Documents Out Loud at Trial?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 @ 01:58 PM

reading-documents-call-out-trial-style.jpgby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

I’ve seen a great many lawyers read documents aloud at trials, and, not coincidentally, I’ve seen lawyers lose cases in part because they did so. Both experience and the science of persuasion tell us that reading documents to a jury is a persuasion killer. But of course there are times when you absolutely need to read a document out loud. This article will help you find the best ways to do so when it is necessary.

There are at least five good reasons why reading documents out loud is harmful. I will go through them, then offer three guidelines for reading passages of text to a jury or judge when it is necessary. After all, it’s hard to imagine trying a contract case without reading the key provisions of the contract.

  1. The split-attention effect/redundancy effect is easy to recognize, and we've all experienced it. In summary, if you are presented with a written document and it is read to you at the same time, your brain will have a hard time sorting out whether to read or to listen. What you might not know is that you actually end up far worse off reading written materials while seeing an image of those materials than you would have if you had just done one or the other -- read the materials or listened to the words. See The Redundancy Effect, PowerPoint and Legal Graphics.

  2. Related closely to the split attention the fact is the fact that people read faster than you speak. So if you present both formats, whether you know it or not, you have just started a little competition with your audience. They try to read faster than you. See 
    Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors.
  1. People have written books about why this is a bad practice. Just read Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points, www.beyondbulletpoints.com.
  1. There's more science about this than you probably think. Chris Atherton's work is superb on this topic, and here's a video about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwOuVc1Qrlg
  1. If you read out loud to people, you'll probably bore them. See Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?

So, now that you have an idea about why reading documents is bad, how do we deal with the fact that some documents just need to be read? To deal with that, you will likely have to embrace new habits and learn new skills.

First, assuming that you are presenting from Trial Director or PowerPoint, you're going to need to learn when and how to turn off the projector. In PowerPoint you do this by pressing the bulb symbol, which toggles the screen to and from a black screen. In Trial Director, assuming that you are making appropriate use of a trial technician’s experience and professionalism by having a technician run the equipment in the courtroom, just say, “Dim the screen please.” When you do this, the jury should stare at you and pay close attention.

Second, you should choose passages of text to read that are as short as possible. I recommend never reading more than a sentence or two.

Third, try to become comfortable with pausing and giving people a chance to read. Look at the document yourself and read along quietly in your head. You'll get a feeling for how long people need, and you will keep the factfinders engaged. If you now want to highlight some key language, highlight it and ask the jury to focus on that piece again, then pause again. Then dim the screen, briefly reread it and then explain why it's important. Scientifically, this is your single best approach to maximize persuasion. I acknowledge it feels different and tedious, but so once did washing your hands before surgery.

Other articles from A2L Consulting discussing presenting orally and with documents, the redundancy effect, and using science to persuade:

complex civil litigation ebook free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Demonstrative Evidence, Presentation Graphics, Psychology, Redundancy Effect, Document Call-Outs

How Many PowerPoint Slides Should You Use in a Typical Trial?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 @ 01:45 PM

how-many-powerpoint-slides-too-many.jpgby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

How many slides should a world-class trial lawyer or trial presentation consultant create for use in a typical trial? That’s an interesting question that I hadn’t thought of until recently, when I had a fascinating debate with some litigators about this topic. One took the view that a trial with twice as many issues should require twice as many slides, even if the two trials are of equal length. I disagreed, and I think these litigators found my position confusing at first.

I told them that the presumption for any trial team should be to use as few slides as possible to make a point. More slides just create more complexity. And that inhibits persuasion.

There's a famous quote that has been attributed to many people, but it is correctly attributed to French mathematician Blaise Pascal: “I would have written a shorter letter if I had more time.” I think this sums up in many ways the goals of effective trial presentation. If you find yourself going to trial with 500 slides that you plan to use in a five-day trial, you are probably overdoing it. But people do that all the time.

I wrote about this topic in an article discussing how the PowerPoint slides that you do use are informed by the ones you don't. I think of it like a sculptor and Michelangelo’s famous saying how he could see the finished piece in the block of stone, he just needed to chip away the extraneous stones.

I do think trial presentation should work something like that. That's why it takes a long time to make a good presentation and why you should not find yourself at the end of the trial apologizing for not having written that shorter letter.

Here are a handful of best practices for any PowerPoint slide presentation with additional reading incorporated throughout:

  • Don't use bullet points. I've said this so many times that I'm nervous about over-repeating this stance. It's not the bullets that are bad, of course. It's that when you use them, you tend to commit all of of the PowerPoint slide sins that measurably and are scientifically known to diminish persuasion.

Other A2L articles related to using PowerPoint slides well in or out of the courtroom include:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics

Last Day to Vote: Best of Legal Times 2016

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 @ 12:43 PM

bestofthelegaltimes2016-lastday.jpgby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

A2L was thrilled to be nominated in a number of categories again in the “Best of Legal Times” competition. We have won in these categories before, and I'd love your vote today in support of us.

I think these types of surveys are very useful for lawyers to participate in by identifying the very best service providers to the legal industry whom they are familiar with, in any number of categories. Once the results are in and published, lawyers and law firms can use the survey results, which can serve as a handy shortcut for finding the best providers. This includes, of course, trial consulting, jury consulting and all the other areas in which A2L competes.

These surveys don’t replace the old-fashioned method of seeking out good references and using providers that you’ve had good experiences with in the past. But they add very useful information – the “wisdom of crowds” in the form of the opinions of hundreds of lawyers who have looked to these providers in the past.

We believe that we stack up with the top providers in our industry. This year, we were nominated as Best Trial Consultants, Best Jury Consultants, and Best Demonstrative Evidence Provider.

If you'd like to participate, follow this link and scroll (you can skip the rest) to questions 45, 46, & 49 - don't forget to press the DONE button at the end.


Thanks for helping to identify the best in the business. You've told us before that we are at the top of our industries, and I hope you'll do it again.

best of the legal times 2016

Previous related accolades:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Trial Director, Awards, blog

[Free E-Book] The Value of Litigation Consulting 2nd Edition

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 03:17 PM

value-litigation-consulting-400-tall.jpgby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

As trials become more and more complex – just think of the intellectual property cases worth billions of dollars that have rooted the attention of Silicon Valley and the world – litigation consulting has become more and more important. There may be fewer jury trials now than there used to be, but many of the cases that go to trial can shake up an industry.

“Litigation consulting” is a broad term that describes a broad variety of services that help lawyers try and win cases. They include jury and bench trial consulting, litigation graphics consulting, on-site courtroom technology support and similar services. In a given case, a trial team may need all the services that A2L provides, or just a subset of those services.

In order to show how far the litigation consulting industry has come in a relatively short time, we are issuing a free --- page book, The Value of Litigation Consulting. The book explains why even the best trial lawyers can benefit from the services of top-notch litigation consultants. It’s a handbook that shows where the industry has been and where it’s heading.

The book is full of useful, hard-hitting articles on these topics, including 11 Things Your Colleagues Pay Litigation Consultants to Do, 6 Secrets of the Jury Consulting Business You Should Know, 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics Are More Complicated Than You Think, How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?, 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians.

You can download the book here - completely free - no strings attached.

value of litigation consulting consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation

10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 @ 01:27 PM

top-trial-teams-assessment-tool-win-cases.jpgby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Several months ago, I wrote about the 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams. Based on those 50 characteristics, we have created a trial team assessment tool. Although we've only just begun to collect the data, my hypothesis is that the quality of trial preparation, which this tool attempts to measure, is highly correlated with success at trial.

In my experience, only a small minority of trial teams rigorously prepare for trial in a way that would earn them a high score on this tool. In most cases, budgets and/or firm culture simply don’t permit the level of preparation that I see in the highest performing trial teams.

In our first effort to quantify what makes a good trial team, our beta version trial team assessment tool offers 10 criteria to measure performance. We selected these 10 points from among the 50 criteria, based on the collective experience of A2L's top litigation graphics consultant, our top jury consultant and on my experience. That's more than 75 years of accumulated litigation experience from work in thousands of cases.

We assign a maximum of 10 points to each criterion, and so far, we have observed trial teams ranging from a low of 33 to a high of 76. Losses tend to occur more often with low scoring teams, but the data are still quite fragmentary.

Here are the 10 criteria that we use to define great trial teams:

  1. Communication: They communicate in an orderly, consistent manner so that everyone knows at all times what is going on. They’re systematic in how they work and communicate with their outside consultants.

  2. Timely Preparation: They’re not frantic. They don't wait until the last minute to prepare fact and expert witnesses. They construct their key trial narratives early.

  3. Rigorous Preparation: They don't dismiss the level of intensive prep needed “just for deposition.” They work through dozens of drafts of their demonstratives. They don't relegate preparation of important witnesses to junior lawyers who lack experience. They require their experts to work with communications and visual design consultants.

  4. Storytelling/Theme Development: They understand the difference between a narrative and a theme. They don’t simply respond to themes introduced by the other side; they build their own affirmative narrative. They develop their thematic story right from the start and incorporate that into discovery.

  5. Organization/Management: The team leaders realize that there are too many aspects of a big-ticket litigation for the first chair to handle all of them alone. The leaders spend their time where they add the most value. They get some sleep. If they aren’t good organizers, they task someone who is a good organizer in order to assure continuity and avoid panic.

  6. Humility: They exhibit a distinct lack of arrogance. They don’t answer challenges by simply stating how long they’ve done this or where they went to school. They don’t answer their own questions, but let other people do that. They conduct post-hearing, post-conference, and post-trial debriefings.

  7. Openness and Curiosity: Great litigation teams want their answers questioned. They tell you their strengths and weaknesses. They don't sugarcoat the possible effectiveness of the other side's narrative and thematic points or fall too quickly in love with their own narrative and themes. Finally, they ask their litigation consultants what can they do better.

  8. Leadership and Teamwork: They don't lose it; they keep their cool. They understand that their success is a team effort and approach it that way. They give credit where credit is due, sincerely (not by patronizing). They pressure-test throughout the course of their pre-trial development and during the course of trial itself by continuously empowering the entire litigation and trial teams to provide their own input.

  9. Technology Comfort and Courtroom Presence: They’re not afraid of technology in the courtroom or elsewhere. They think about details like the color of their outfits and their body language. They constantly work to improve their delivery. They just look comfortable in front of a jury.

  10. Practice: They don’t assume anything and seek to verify everything with facts, including mock testing that shows which themes are winners and which juror types are worst. Effective litigation teams spend as much time preparing their witnesses for robust cross-examinations as they do for direct examinations. Witness preparation includes careful development of an effective visual presentation that is rehearsed but doesn't sound rehearsed.

How would your trial team rate on these criteria? Hopefully, your team is on the 50 or higher scale. I have never seen a team with an under-50 score win a case.

Other A2L Consulting articles related to trial preparation, success at trial and the relationship between in-house and outside litigation counsel include:

in-house counsel litigation toolkit e-book free download

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

7 Reasons a Fresh Pair of Eyes Are Beneficial Before Trial

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 @ 02:53 PM

iStock_38166022_SMALL.jpgby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

When it comes to making a decision about hiring a litigation consulting firm like A2L to support a trial team, I notice that many factors are intuitively persuasive to the consumer of such services.

With litigation graphics, most trial lawyers understand they benefit from outside help since jurors are mostly visual learners, and visual persuasion experts help bridge the communications gap between the trial lawyer and the typical American.

With jury consulting, most trial teams respond to the notion that an experienced jury consultant has watched thousands of jurors deliberate and can thus offer insights based on that unique experience. Further, it just makes sense to most people that a jury consultant is in the best position, given her training, to create a proper forum for scientifically valid and actionable jury research.

However, more important than these considerations, there is one factor that seems to occur to almost everyone who is evaluating the use of a litigation consultant. It is the idea that a fresh pair of eyes is almost always helpful when preparing for trial.

By a fresh pair of eyes, I'm referring to a litigation consultant who has been engaged to support the trial team sometime in the year before trial. At this point, early theories have often been developed, perhaps a draft narrative is in place, and the evidence has largely been evaluated. However, all too often, scant attention gets paid to the presentation of the case until the final few months before trial.

It is in this period that people seem to recognize the value of the “extra pair of eyes” in giving the trial strategies and tactics their final form. Here are some specific reasons why these new eyes can help. 

  1. Trial lawyers are likely to be too close to their case. After their long hours wrapped up with the case, they have subconsciously developed a theory or theories about the case that will be hard to shake. If these theories can be improved, it will take an outsider to convince the trial lawyer of that. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators and 5 Surprises in Going from IP Litigator to Litigation Consultant.

  2. Trial lawyers identify with the client. That is a natural and understandable thing to do, since trial lawyers are supposed to zealously represent their client and think the client’s views are correct. However, sometimes the client’s ideas, though they reflect its perspective and industry realities, may be too hard to sell to a jury. Enter the new pair of eyes. See, 7 Reasons Litigation Graphics Consultants are Essential Even When Clients Have In-House Expertise and 5 Ways Litigation Consultants Add Pizzazz to a Tedious Case

  3. It’s hard to imagine “simple” when you are very smart. Trial lawyers are accustomed to being the smartest man or woman in the room. Sometimes, though, they will adopt a theory that lacks the common touch and is hard to explain to the everyday, common-sense thinker in the jury box. The outsider can help with this as well. See,
    21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant,  When Smart Ain’t So Smart - Cognitive Bias, Experts and Jurors and 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations.
  1. Don't Eat Your Own Fundraiser Doughnuts. When a trial team becomes too insular or if the 1st chair litigator becomes dictatorial, a closed feedback loop can develop. In this situation, all ideas are simply confirmed as good ideas by the internal team. Never is a fresh pair of eyes more valuable. See, 7 Bad Habits of Law Firm Litigators.

  2. Simple is hard to get to. Often, the most straightforward way of presenting the facts is the best. A trial lawyer can sometimes become taken with, even obsessed with, a more comprehensive yet more complicated approach to the facts. An outsider can give him or her a new perspective on this. See, Litigator & Litigation Consultant Value Added: A "Simple" Final Product and Planning For Courtroom Persuasion? Use a Two-Track Trial Strategy

  3. Collaboration can be creative. From the clash of ideas, a trial lawyer and a litigation consultant can develop new approaches to a case. They need to treat each other as equals and not be afraid to be wrong, nor be afraid to criticize the other person’s approach. See, How Creative Collaboration Can Help a Litigation Team and 9 Things I’ve Noticed About Effective Litigation Graphics After 20 Years as a Litigator

  4. Trials are rare, but not for litigation consultants. The “extra pair of eyes” will be someone who has been there and seen it all in the courtroom. Many trial lawyers, however skillful, go to trial once a year at most. See, With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now? and 9 Things In-House Counsel Say About Outside Litigation Counsel

Other A2L Consulting articles related to the support top-end litigation consultants provide to top-tier trial lawyers include:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

12 Things About PowerPoint You Probably Never Knew

Posted by Alex Brown on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 @ 11:47 AM

PowerPoint tips tricks lawyers opening statementsby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

The definition of power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Graphic artists of all shapes and sizes, once they fully delve into using the Microsoft PowerPoint tool, usually end up surprised by the power inherent in PowerPoint.

When you hear people say they hate PowerPoint presentations, they usually use excuses like; “It’s too wordy, excessive effects, it puts me to sleep, Group read along, Rorschach effect, frivolous fonts, and BULLET POINTS!”

The truth is they are correct. PowerPoint is not always used to create litigation graphics to the best effect. But that doesn’t mean you should blame the tool. Here are 12 tips and features of PowerPoint that will excite and enlighten even the most creative thinker.

  1. Narrate over slides. This is especially effective when you need to create a technology tutorial or explain otherwise complicated material. We have done this for many a client using professional narrators and always with the desired effect. The audience is engaged and understanding the message as they should.

  2. Pan and zoom. Images can do more than just appear on the screen. You can create movement to keep your audience focused on what you want them to focus on. This is effective when you have a lot of images that you want to share, but in the end, you want them to focus on a specific one. You can use the zoom feature to focus them and then you can add callouts so they understand what they are seeing and what you want them to remember.

  3. Embed a functioning Excel worksheet. Suppose that your damages expert has made some brilliant worksheets. Embed them into your deck. There’s no reason to use paper handouts or to switch from one program to another. You can also manipulate the worksheet so they focus on the numbers that are key.

  4. Pop-up/call out Instead of having a slide appear completely filled with text, have it appear when needed and be replaced as you move down your key points. This is effective because you allow your audience’s eyes to focus on specific things and keep them engaged. Science dictates that they will retain more information this way.

  5. Charts. They can be used effectively to show how things relate to each other, such as a timeline, organizational chart, flow chart, or process diagram. Lawyers often are afraid to use charts because they fear that the audience will get ahead of the message. This is true in many cases, which is why you want them to build up slowly, not just sit on the screen as a static image.

    powerpoint litigation graphics consultants

  6. Pictogram or infographic images. What is expected from a trial team changes almost monthly. Today, infographics are huge, and the icons, images, and feel of infographics are comfortable and accepted. Use today’s marketing messaging to your advantage so your audience receives the message and retains the information.

  7. Highlight text to draw attention. Use a call-out to highlight a quote or a section of a contract. You want the audience to get the feel of what is being highlighted but you also want them to remember a few impact words. We all remember the old videos with the “follow the bouncing ball.” Take advantage of that familiarity and highlight the text at the moment you want them to focus on that impact word. It can be a very powerful way to get a message across to your audience.

  8. Illuminate, glow, or change the color of the text to draw attention. Like highlighting, you can also be subtle and use these options to almost subconsciously get them to remember impact words during deliberation.

  9. Embed videos. Today, your audience expects you to show them something that will wow them. If you don’t, you run the risk of disappointing them or even making them feel as if you were simply not trying hard enough. You want to keep their attention; what better way to grab it then to add video to your deck. You no longer need to bring up a different program or use a machine to play video. On a click, you can show them exactly what you want, highlight things throughout, create pop-ups or call-outs around it. This is very powerful and something we have been doing for years. See, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

  10. Animations. Many people fear animations, and they should. The courtroom is not a good place for flashing, spinning, exploding transitions. Animations are incorporated, however, in all of our decks, used sometimes without detection. The best effects are the ones that draw attention to the message, not the transition.

  11. Create custom bullets. Bullet points kill your presentation, period. But we still use lists, just in a way that does not make it LOOK like a bullet list. Create icons instead of black or colored dots. Don’t use them at the beginning, but add check marks at the end. This changes the feel and increases impact.

  12. Use 3D effects. This goes right back to what the audience expects. If you need to use a 3D image, use it. We have done this for impact and retention for years. You do not need to always use a 3D program to do it. We have used movement to backgrounds to simulate depth and perspective. All in PowerPoint. See, 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint.

It is not your job to learn different litigation graphics packages to entertain your audience. It is your job to keep your audience engaged by employing these and hundreds of other persuasion tools so they learn and retain the information needed to achieve success when the verdict is handed down.

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Other articles and resources related to the use of PowerPoint at trial, litigation graphics and PowerPoint trial graphics generally:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Animation, Presentation Graphics, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Infographics

50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 @ 02:22 PM

trial team win litigation traits characteristicsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

After the more than 20 years that we have spent in the litigation consulting business, we don't hear very many questions that we’ve never heard before. However, this week I did hear one, and the story is worth sharing because it goes to the heart of how a truly great litigator performs. The question I heard was, “What can we do better as a trial team on the next engagement?”

Consider how remarkable this is. Here was a litigator from a large law firm sincerely trying to improve the performance of his team and himself. I was deeply impressed, as this was the first time I've had someone ask that question after an engagement.

It's a very sensible question, of course. A2L's team has worked with thousands of litigation teams from the very best law firms in the world. I have watched many litigators perform near-magic in the courtroom, and I have seen teams fail miserably. There are patterns that lead to success and patterns that lead to failure.

In the spirit of the question that this litigator asked me, I started thinking about the traits of the world’s most effective trial teams. Here are 50 of them culled from my experience and that of my colleagues Dr. Laurie Kuslansky and Tony Klapper.

  1. Practice is by far the single most obvious indicator of a trial team's success. The great litigators draft their openings months or years in advance of trial and practice them dozens or hundreds of times. See, Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well

  2. Preparation. Great trial teams start preparing long before trial, and they don't ask the client’s permission to do so. Their attitude is, “If you work with a team like ours, it means you want to win and we know how to win and we're going to get that done, whatever it takes.” I think they are right. There are only a handful of law firms that I have observed that have this sense of preparation embedded in their litigation culture. See, The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation

  3. Great litigation teams want their answers questioned. Great litigators are confident. They are so confident that they open themselves up to rigorous scrutiny in their approach to trial. Through a whole host of methods, they invite criticism, suggestions, fresh pairs of eyes, lay people’s opinions, experts’ opinions, and they use all of these voices to perform at their best. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators

  4. They lead, but they can be led too. Great litigators avoid dominating all discussions. They intentionally let others lead them and be seen as leaders. Download the Leadership for Lawyers eBook

  5. They just look comfortable in front of a jury. Confidence equals persuasiviness and humans are born with an expert ability to detect it.  See, A Harvard Psychologist Writes About Presenting to Win

  6. They build narratives early. They know how important a narrative is to winning a case. They have also learned from experience that the earlier this is done, the better. A well-constructed narrative can inform everything from briefing to discovery to witness preparation. Download The Opening Statement Toolkit

  7. They understand the difference between a narrative and a theme. See, 14 Differences Between a Theme and a Story in Litigation

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  8. They spend their time where they are most valuable and add the most value. How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?

  9. They begin developing their visual presentation months or years before trial. See, How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?

  10. They’re not afraid of technology in the courtroom or elsewhere. Skipping technology means losing credibility in most cases now. Jurors have come to expect it and no longer take kindly to simply being lectured to. See, Trial Presentation Too Slick? Here's Why You Can Stop Worrying

  11. They’re systematic in how they meet with their outside consultants. Great trial teams usually hold weekly calls or meetings and schedule the next event at the end of each meeting.

  12. They’re not frantic. There are so many reasons why one should not be frantic, and even when the facts are terrible, great lawyers work at a measured and even pace and don't go negative. See, 10 Signs the Pressure is Getting to You and What to Do About It

  13. They don't jockey for position with other lawyers and law firms. The worst and least effective trial teams that I have ever seen play politics to the detriment of the client in the run up to trial. See, 5 Tips for Working Well As a Joint Defense Team

  14. They exhibit a distinct lack of arrogance. I think some people confuse arrogance with ability. The best trial teams I have observed display tons of confidence, show mastery of the subject matter, demonstrate massive respect for one another and never allow arrogance to enter the picture. See, In-House Counsel's Role In Keeping Litigator Ego In Check

  15. They probably subscribe to our blog. Alright, not everyone subscribes to this blog, but 8,000 people do. Litigators who demonstrate that they hope to grow their own skill set are typical subscribers. See, 10 Surprising Facts About Litigation Consulting Report Blog Readers

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  16. They realize there are too many parts in big-ticket litigation for the first chair to handle all of them alone. They know how to divide the work among attorneys, paralegals, experts, and others. The only way to build a simple case is to start with a complicated one and break it down. Truly complex cases require lots of team effort to achieve this result. See, Litigator & Litigation Consultant Value Added: A "Simple" Final Product

  17. They require their experts to work with communications and visual design consultants. Perhaps 1 in 500 experts is an expert in presenting information in a jury-friendly way, but most believe that they are. 7 Smart Ways for Expert Witnesses to Give Better Testimony

  18. They don't lose it; they keep their cool. There are plenty of stressors in the pre-trial environment. People not used to doing this kind of work would find it hard to maintain a positive attitude, but it is so critical to do so. See, 5 Signs of a Dysfunctional Trial Team (and What to Do About It)

  19. They conduct post-hearing, post-conference, and post-trial debriefings. Truly great trial teams do this, and all bad trial teams simply blame a bad judge, bad facts, and/or a bad jury. See, 9 Questions to Ask in Your Litigation Postmortem or Debrief

  20. They contemplate their thematic story right from the start and incorporate that into discovery. We're working with a number of clients now who are making sure a narrative is developed early in a case, not just on the ease of trial. This is a best-practice for highly effective trial teams. See, Planning For Courtroom Persuasion? Use a Two-Track Trial Strategy

  21. They tell you their strengths and weaknesses. When we meet with a trial team for the first time, they usually present to us as if we were potential jurors. That is, they advocate. Good trial teams do that, but then great trial teams say, "here's what our opponents will say and here's where we are vulnerable."

  22. They don’t answer their own questions, but let other people do that. Often, these answers are found in a mock trial setting. As we frequently advocate, let the data speak, don't guess or just use your gut instinct. See, 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said

  23. Before dismissing new ideas, they consider how to apply them, no matter how new. See, How Creative Collaboration Can Help a Litigation Team

  24. They repeat back recommendations to make sure they understand them. This mirroring technique is used by many highly effective litigators and great listeners in all fields.

  25. They send drafts of their work with enough lead time for others to provide comments. Time management in litigation is a skill that must be developed and is a given with great trial teams. See, The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation

  26. They communicate in an orderly, consistent manner so that the left and right hands know what the other is doing. 

  27. If they aren’t good organizers, they task someone who is to assure continuity and avoid panic. Download the Leadership for Lawyers eBook

  28. They don’t assume anything and seek to verify with facts, including mock testing that shows which themes are winners and which juror types are worst. See, 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them

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  29. They don’t answer challenges by simply stating how long they’ve done this or where they went to school. See, 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations

  30. They lead, but don’t micromanage. We recently wrote about how some trial teams will agonize over fonts, colors, and PowerPoint templates while ignoring bad facts in their case during trial preparation. See, 3 Trial Preparation Red Flags That Suggest a Loss is Imminent

  31. They are respectful to junior staff and outside consultants. See, 13 Reasons Law Firm Litigation Graphics Departments Have Bad Luck

  32. They understand that their success is a team effort and approach it that way. See, When a Good Trial Team Goes Bad: The Psychology of Team Anxiety

  33. They give credit where credit is due, sincerely (not by patronizing).

  34. They lead by example. Download the Leadership for Lawyers eBook

  35. They pay their bills on time or early. I'm pretty sure most litigators don't understand how important timely payment is and how it contributes to winning cases. See, 10 Ways Timely Payment Helps You Save Money On Litigation Consulting

  36. They don't sugarcoat the possible effectiveness of the other side's narrative and thematic points and fall too quickly in love with their own narrative and themes. See, 12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials

  37. Notwithstanding a keen awareness of what the other side will say, they don't simply respond to the other side; they build their own affirmative narrative. See, $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l
  38. They pressure test throughout the course of their pre-trial development and during the course of trial itself by continuously empowering the entire litigation and trial teams to provide their own input. They eschew groupthink. See, How Creative Collaboration Can Help a Litigation Team

  39. All attorneys on the team have meaningful roles that sync with their individual strengths.

  40. They don't wait until the last minute to prepare fact and expert witnesses and instead dedicate sufficient resources to ensure those witnesses are prepared. See, Witness Preparation: Hit or Myth?

  41. Witness preparation includes, of course, careful development of an effective visual presentation that is rehearsed but doesn't sound rehearsed. See, The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses

  42. Effective litigation teams spend as much time preparing their witnesses for robust cross-examinations as they do for direct examinations. See, 
    Witness Preparation: The Most Important Part

  43. They look for opportunities to score significant points on redirect, a redirect that is thought through well in advance of trial and not simply reactive to cross.

  44. They seek candid feedback, not false praise, during trial.

  45. They get some sleep. One of my favorite, now retired, trial lawyers used to say that he never slept better than when we was at trial. He always knew he was fully prepared.

  46. They don't relegate preparation of important witnesses to junior lawyers who lack actual experience. See, Witness Preparation: Hit or Myth?

  47. They don't dismiss the level of intensive prep needed “just for deposition,” waiting for trial.  Most cases settle, and discovery can make or break a case. My favorite lawyers are just as "on" at a depo as they are at trial. See, 6 Tips for Effectively Using Video Depositions at Trial

  48. They think about details like tie color, suit color, and body language, and they work to improve their delivery at every event they participate in. See, Litigation Graphics, Psychology and Color Meaning

  49. They are grateful that they get to do the kind of work that they do. I watched a top trial lawyer and friend be interviewed recently. His attitude was one of sincere gratitude about being a litigator. That sincerity comes through in everything that he does, and it is part of the reason he is so successful in front of juries. It's something that is almost impossible to fake.

  50. Finally, they ask their litigation consultants what can they do better. So far, as mentioned in the introduction to this article, it has happened just this once. However, I have a feeling we'll get asked this question more and more. I hope this article provides a useful framework for these types of discussions.

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Litigation Management, Litigation Support, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Management, Practice, Expert Witness, Leadership, Judges, Opening, Depositions, Witness Preparation, Persuasion

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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.


Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@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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