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The Litigation Consulting Report

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
Founder/CEO
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
Founder/CEO
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.

best-trial-consultants.jpg

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
Founder/CEO
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
Founder/CEO
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
Founder/CEO
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
Founder/CEO
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

    storytelling for judge jury courtroom best method for trial persuasion and emotion
  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



    Complimentary Subscription to This Blog



  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

    mock jury webinar a2l kuslansky

  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.

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

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

3 Trial Preparation Red Flags That Suggest a Loss is Imminent

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 @ 09:24 AM


trial preparation red flags litigator behavior loss associatedby Ken Lopez

Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

In 20 years as a litigation consultant, I’ve personally seen hundreds of litigators try cases, and I have heard the observations of my colleagues on other cases, probably amounting to thousands of cases in all. So I’m in a pretty good position to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work, based on a non-scientific study of trials and trial teams.

One might think that a litigator who has been living and breathing a case for years is more likely to win a jury verdict than a litigator who has just been brought in for the trial. But I just don’t see that. Litigators do well in both situations. It is true, however, that trial teams that prepare longer and harder for trial are more likely to win.

There are, however, some trial preparation patterns that constitute “red flags” and indicate to me that a trial team may be headed for trouble. Here are three of them.

1) Extensive debates among the team about font, color, and PowerPoint templates. This often spells trouble. For example, if your litigation graphics shop (likely experts in visual persuasion) have produced more than 10 PowerPoint template/font/color combinations, and the merits of each are still being debated by the lawyers, the team is likely focusing on the wrong thing. Now a healthy debate about color, fonts, and templates can be OK. But don’t forget that there’s no real scientific agreement on what colors or fonts are persuasive, and also remember that some litigation graphics shops are experts in the nuances of color theory, font choice, and visual persuasion. So, when I see a litigator spending weeks on a template, I know we're in trouble.

2) Secretiveness about the case. Sometimes we see clients who are hesitant to talk about their case or who bristle when asked, "How could the opposition win?" The best litigators want to have their answers questioned. They are the furthest thing from yes-men or yes-women. See $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation to understand the kind of work some high-end litigators put in to generate a win.

3) Infighting between law firms. Once this breaks out, the real battle becomes which law firm will triumph rather than which side of the case will triumph. It almost always leads to a loss. If there is the slightest whiff of this behavior, in-house counsel must step in and eliminate it immediately. Allowing this sort of "drama" to persist simply increases the likelihood that the corporate budget for the arts is about to increase markedly (in the form of a losing verdict). See 5 Tips for Working Well As a Joint Defense Team.

However, all these behaviors, in my experience, can be reversed. Very often, they are simply tactics to avoid dealing with a real problem in the case. Good mock testing and good recognition of the behaviors as they are happening can often save a case in trouble. Sometimes, it is up to in-house counsel to assert their leadership and eliminate these behaviors.

Other A2L articles and resources about litigation leadership, in-house counsel, and trial preparation include:

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Litigation Management, Trial Preparation, Leadership, PowerPoint, In-House Counsel

9 Things I’ve Noticed About Effective Litigation Graphics After 20 Years as a Litigator

Posted by Tony Klapper on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 @ 09:39 AM


tony-klapper-welcome-litigation-consultant-litigation-graphics.jpgby Tony B. Klapper

Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & General Counsel
A2L Consulting

I’ve recently joined the litigation consulting team at A2L as its Managing Director. This means that I will be working closely with top litigators to help them craft persuasive themes and stories, assist in the testing of a case during a mock trial exercise, and develop powerful demonstrative exhibits.

In my 20+ years working at Kirkland & Ellis and then Reed Smith, I have participated in many trials, arbitrations, evidentiary hearings, mediations, and board presentations. Almost without fail, I have been the attorney responsible for coordinating and developing the litigation graphics for these events. That did not mean putting mouse to screen in a graphics program or PowerPoint. Instead, I would put pencil to paper and sketch out a great idea that someone else transformed into a powerful litigation graphic. It is work that I have always been passionate about.

As I transition from working on graphics two or three times a year to developing them every week, I want to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve observed about trial graphics as a litigation partner at two major law firms.

  1. Janus-like slides. Janus is the Roman god of gates and doorways. He is depicted as having two faces and typically represents beginnings and endings or contrasting experiences, such as war and peace. Although not one of your sexier Roman gods – clearly no Jupiter or Venus – Janus does inspire some effective litigation graphics: A split-screen slide that reflects a cause on the left and an effect on the right, or a representation or claim on the left and visual proof that the representation or claim is false on the right. A single, simple split-screen slide can instantaneously convey a powerful message without resorting to a series of dull, ineffective bullet-point assertions. 
  1. The Timeline. Effective stories are not simply recitations of chronological events. But “when” something happens and how that something relates to “when” something else happens is almost always a central feature in litigation and part of a good story. Stories have beginnings, middles and endings. They transport us through a maze of actors and activities, all anchored in time. Instead of vertically listing from top to bottom a series of events -- as many fond of the easel and flip chart will do -- a well-crafted and visually appealing timeline allows you to elegantly develop your narrative in linear fashion. But it’s not just the narrative. A timeline that is chock full of entries may tell a completely different story than one with wide gaps of time, even without needing to read the fine print.
  1. The Hyperlinked Timeline. Of course, reading the fine print may also be important. I have designed interactive timelines that employ hyperlinks to document call-outs. This allows the audience to remain anchored chronologically while at the same time digging into the supporting details that prove up your case. I have even used parallel timelines, each with hyperlinked call-outs, to compare and contrast, provide context, or simply rebut unsupported claims with evidence-backed truths.
  1. The Timeline on Steroids. One of the more brilliant lawyers I ever worked with was David Bernick, now a partner at Dechert. David taught me a tremendous amount about story-telling and graphics development. Of the many things that David was skilled at, I was always particularly impressed by his ability to design timelines. But not just any timeline. David would weave together multiple, interrelated concepts into a single slide that employed timelines (sometimes in parallel), trend lines with vertical and horizontal axes, and icons that conveyed a wealth of information and brought focused simplicity to a sea of complexity.
  1. Photographs. Of course, a graphic does not need to have bells and whistles to be effective. Some of the most effective PowerPoint litigation graphics I ever created were simply pictures that conveyed an important point: a picture of an incredibly dusty asbestos manufacturing plant from the 1930s to contrast with the well-ventilated and controlled facility in the 1970s. Or photographs of filthy hotel rooms where an older manager was fired to contrast with sparkly clean hotel rooms where the younger manager was retained.
  1. Checklists. There is nothing simpler than a “yes” or “no” answer. Whether organized around the elements of your case, key scientific or medical observations, or even the verdict form, the simple “yes” or “no” checklist slide is often the best way to orient a jury around critical bottom-line conclusions.
  1. Process Charts. In the majority of cases I have worked on, I represented the defendant. In the majority of those cases, an underdog plaintiff claimed my deep-pocketed manufacturing client had cut corners; put profits over safety; said one thing, but did something else; and/or just stuck its proverbial head in the proverbial sand and ignored known risks. These can be tough cases to win. But one thing I have always found to be effective in crafting my client’s narrative in these types of cases was to spend time on process. I would detail graphically all the steps and controls, and people involved, in the cradle-to-grave design, manufacturing and post-sale monitoring of my client’s products. These process charts would not only help the judge and jury understand a complex series of events, they would provide their own implicit message. The greater the complexity of that process (depicted with an array of arrows connected to boxes connected to more arrows) the easier it was to believe that the company and its employees were not taking short cuts, but rather took pride in the products they made. This went a long towards de-demonizing Goliath in those cases brought by David
  1. THE Slide. It does not happen in every case, but one of the more rewarding aspects of demonstrative design is to be able to effectively convey your entire case and its central theme or themes in a single slide. I recently worked on a matter where the plaintiffs and their experts merely assumed that the defendant was the cause of the plaintiffs’ harm. Actual proof required a series of steps, each of which the plaintiffs ignored in favor of a deceptively facile two-step explanation. Armed with that theme early in the litigation, I secured “assumption” admissions from critical witnesses and wove into the opening and closing decks a single slide that clearly conveyed the plaintiffs’ short cuts.
  1. Color. As a young associate many moons ago, I learned that the color red can have a powerful effect on people. During a trial training program, a seasoned litigator stood up and demonstrated how to cross-examine a witness. When it came time to impeach the witness with prior testimony, the litigator prominently displayed a bound volume of that testimony -- supported with a bright red backing. Each time the witness strayed from his testimony, the litigator merely had to flash the red-backed volume, and the witness and the jury knew what was coming. Soon no impeachment was even necessary; once flashed, the red-backed volume, like an electric dog collar, served to keep the witness’s testimony in line. From that day forward, I understood the power of color. If you are trying to say something negative through a demonstrative exhibit, red is most certainly your color.

Other A2L Consulting articles related to the development of litigation graphics, the art and science of litigation consulting, and the development of a strong narrative for your case:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

[Free and New E-Book] Patent Litigation Toolkit - 4th Edition

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 03:51 PM

A2L PATENT LITIGATION TOOLKIT 4TH editionby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Since our founding 20 years ago, nearly half of our consulting work has involved patent litigation. Patent cases are uniquely suited to our brand of consulting, which relies on storytelling, persuasive demonstratives, and the simplification of complex materials for communication at trial. So it is with great pleasure that we release the 4th edition of our Patent Litigation Toolkit (download here).

It seems obvious that our litigation consultants and litigation graphics consultants would routinely help patent litigators make their cases presentable and digestible for jurors. After all, these cases are often incredibly complex, involving issues of detailed mechanics, organic chemistry, and cutting-edge electronic technology.

Less obvious perhaps, is the need for good storytelling. In fact, a lack of good storytelling is the undoing of many a patent case and patent litigator. After all, jurors will develop a story about your case whether you give them one or not. If you've done your trial preparation correctly, you will have offered one to them that they can believe in.

This complimentary 270-page book is designed to help you with all of your patent litigation challenges - from storytelling to the simplification of complex material. I think you'll find articles like these very helpful: 

  • 5 Tips For Inter Partes Review Hearing Presentations at the PTO
  • 11 Tips for Winning at Your Markman Hearings
  • 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
  • Introducing Mock Markman Hearings to Patent Litigation
  • Trial Graphics in Patent Litigation - 11 Great Demonstrative Tips
  • Explaining a Complicated Process Using Trial Graphics
  • 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said
  • 5 Questions to Ask in Voir Dire . . . Always
  • 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion
  • 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make

This book is completely free and one of 20 that we offer as a complimentary resource to the legal industry. Download The Patent Litigation Toolkit 4th Edition by clicking here or by clicking the image below.

free patent litigation toolkit 4th edition from a2l consulting - top litigation consulants

Tags: Patent Tutorial, Markman Hearings, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Support, Patent Litigation, Storytelling, Claim Construction, ITC, Design Patents

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Authors

KenLopez resized 152

Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.


tony-klapper-headshot-500x500.jpg 

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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