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The Litigation Consulting Report

7 Habits of Great Trial Teams

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 @ 02:17 PM

great-trial-teams-good-to-great-collins.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Ken Lopez, the CEO of A2L Consulting, and I were talking the other day about some good books to read for the holiday season.  I suggested a current best-seller, Thomas Friedman's Thank You for Being Late - strongly recommended to me by my dear friend and mentor, Jim Hostetler. But Ken guided me to another book, a best-seller written 15 years ago by Jim Collins, called Good to Great.  It was a great read.

Although the book is principally a heavily researched analysis on what differentiates a great company from just a good company, I believe that many of the same lessons that apply to the Fortune 500 apply with equal force to law firms, litigation consulting companies, and even trial teams.  Borrowing heavily from Collins' conclusions, I offer the following New Year’s thoughts on how good trial teams can be great trial teams:

  1. Great trial teams have leaders who have the confidence to make important decisions but also the humility to call attention to the team, not themselves.
  1. Great trial teams are composed of the best and the brightest who, like their leader, put the team first.  They are not necessarily subject matter experts (though subject matter expertise certainly doesn’t hurt), but they are innovative thinkers who roll up their sleeves and get to work.
  1. Great trial teams don’t simply follow the direction of their leader; instead, they participate in the development of the trial strategy from the beginning -- through open, sometimes animated, discussion and debate.  
  1. Great trial teams realize that presenting an effective narrative at trial is not something that happens overnight, but rather requires repeated reassessment and development.  The process is iterative and not necessarily linear.
  1. Great trial teams aren’t afraid of technology and think carefully about how they can use it in the courtroom.
  1. Great trial teams understand what makes them great as a team and as individuals.  They don’t try to become something they are not.  
  1. Great trial teams think hard about the core of their case and develop themes, theories and narratives that make the most sense of the law and the facts, fitting round pegs only into round holes.

Are these statements true of your trial team?

Other tools and resources for A2L to help your trial team improve and benchmark your trial team against other teams:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Litigation Technology, Trial Technology, Litigation Management, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Management, Leadership

[New and Free E-Book] 50 Helpful Articles for Litigation Leaders

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, May 26, 2016 @ 02:02 PM

A2L Litigation Leadership Free E-Book Downloadby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Anyone who puts together a team to represent a client in a high-stakes piece of litigation is engaging in an act of leadership. To be successful, such a litigation team needs to blend the skills of an outside set of trial lawyers from a law firm, large or small; in-house corporate counsel; the leadership of the client company, which will want to keep close tabs on high-stakes litigation; a wide variety of paralegals, assistants and other key nonlawyer personnel; and, in all probability, a trial consulting company such as A2L.

Today we are releasing the fourth edition of a new and free eBook on leadership for lawyers that can be downloaded here. I hope that it will be useful to legal industry leaders, whether running a trial team, a practice group, or an entire law firm.

Law firms and corporations both struggle to provide better leadership within their organizations. Comparatively, however, law firms are at a disadvantage because they don’t have a long and strong tradition of training their leaders. In law firms, leadership development is mostly trial and error. Most business schools don’t teach students how to run a law firm, whereas the science and art of being a corporate CEO have been studied endlessly.

For years, it seemed that law firms were lagging behind in business fundamentals. More often than not, their structure was loosely defined. Management was more of a suggestion than a dictate. And accountability was a new term for many. Conceptions of “power” within a firm, based on rainmaking or litigation successes, seemed to play the dominant role in who takes the lead in management responsibilities.

But now law firms are becoming more management-oriented as the economic landscape has changed.

Our leadership eBook is largely focused on litigation, as this is the focus of our own firm. The eBook includes interesting and timely articles such as “The CEO in Litigation: Problems, Solutions and Witness Preparation”; “When a Good Trial Team Goes Bad: The Psychology of Team Anxiety”; “In-House Counsel’s Hiring Methods for Litigation Counsel Are Surprising”; “How Valuable Is Your Time vs. Litigation Support’s Time?”; and “Nine Things That Outside Litigation Counsel Say About In-House Counsel.”

We, as a litigation consulting firm, struggle with issues quite similar to those of a law firm. Most of our leadership team, me included, are player-coaches. That is, none of us are full-time leaders. Instead, we must, like many in a law firm, balance our leadership responsibilities with the time we spend delivering for our clients. We hope that this eBook permits you to achieve a similar balance.

I hope this book is helpful to you. I would enjoy hearing from you and encourage you to leave a comment below (contact information is not published).

litigation leadership 4th edition

Tags: Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, E-Book, Litigation Management, Litigation Support, Psychology, Management, Leadership

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How PowerPoint Failures in Demonstrative Evidence Can Sink a Case

Posted by Ryan Flax on Mon, Feb 2, 2015 @ 04:28 PM


demonstrative-evidence-powerpoint-warning-cautionby Ryan H. Flax
(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We strongly advocate that counsel must use a visual presentation to support his or her oral argument at trial (and anywhere they need to be persuasive). This most commonly happens during opening statements and closing arguments at trial and the dominant format for such presentations is PowerPoint – a very good tool. However, like cutting your own hair or doing your own dental work, we must again caution you that you must really know what you’re doing because your case may depend on it.

On January 22, 2015, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington published its opinion in State v. Walker, overturning the State Prosecutor’s conviction of an accused murderer because the attorney went too far with his demonstrative evidence in closing. A murderer has potentially been freed because, in the Court’s view, counsel was inflammatory in his presentation and “appealed to passion and prejudice” of the jury.

Certainly as zealous advocates we do want to appeal to the passion of jurors on some level. We need their emotions to be in sync with the law and evidence, but what might be too much so as to prejudice the proceedings? Let’s explore the Washington Supreme Court’s opinion to see.

What Did the Prosecutor Do?

defendant-walker-guilty-of-premeditated-murderI’ll preface these notes with the fact that based on the Court’s findings of facts, the evidence was pretty overwhelming against the defendant, and he appeared to be a cold-blooded killer. The prosecution proved its case.

During closing arguments the prosecutor used a PowerPoint presentation of approximately 250 slides – that’s a lot of slides. Over 100 of those 250 were titled “DEFENDANT WALKER GUILTY OF PREMEDITATED MURDER.” They also included a slide with the defendant’s face and the text “GUILTY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT” superimposed thereover in bright red letters. As you see in the slides reproduced above, the prosecutor argued (visually at least) that the defendant was guilty because he spent the stolen money on toys, safes, and a lobster dinner.

The prosecutor showed slides composed of trial exhibits – photographs – with the prosecutions take on the significance. For example, one slide showed a table littered with stolen money – real evidence – captioned with “MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HUMAN LIFE,” which was not a statement in evidence. Another showed a photograph of the murder victim in life, captioned with “DEFENDANT’S GREED AND CALLOUS DISREGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE.”

During the prosecution’s closing, defense counsel objected unsuccessfully to the prosecution’s discussion of premeditaiton and a slide analogizing it to stopping at a railroad crossing, but never objected to the PowerPoint slides mentioned above.

Why Did the Court Find It Wrong?

rule-404-demonstrative-evidence-powerpoint-warning-problemsThe Court indicated that “[t]he primary question in th[e] case [was] whether those [accomplice to first degree murder, first degree assault, first degree robbery, solicitation, and conspiracy] convictions must be reversed in light of the PowerPoint presentation the prosecuting attorney used during closing argument.”

The Court held that “prosecutorial misconduct violated Walker’s right to a fair trial” because of the prosecution’s PowerPoint presentation. Why?

The real reason is that a prosecutor represents the state and the judiciary and must be impartial so as to act only in the interest of justice. According to Washington, “advocacy has its limits, and a prosecutor has the duty to ‘subdue courtroom zeal,’ not add to it.”

The Court professed to have had “no difficulty” holding that the prosecutor’s PowerPoint presentation was “egregious misconduct.” Why?

The Court felt that the prosecutor had presented “altered versions of admitted evidence” and “derogatory depictions of the defendant.” [recall, this defendant is pretty much, absolutely a murderer – his also-guilty girlfriend testified to it]. The Court took offense to the inflammatory nature of the PowerPoint slides – the superimposing of text and captions that suggested the defendant “should be convicted because he is a callous and greedy person who spent the robbery proceeds on video games and lobster.” The Court indicated that the presentation “plainly juxtaposed photographs of the victim with photographs of [the defendant] and his family, some altered with racially inflammatory text.” Finally, the prosecution’s slides “repeatedly and emphatically expressed a personal opinion on [the defendant’s] guilt.”

The Court found all this a “clear effort[] to distract the jury from its proper function as a rational decision-maker.” It held that “[t]he voluminous number of slides depicting statements of the prosecutor’s believe as to defendant’s guilt . . . is presumptively prejudicial and may in fact be difficult to overcome, even with an instruction.”

mock jury webinar a2l kuslansky

Finally, the Court suggested that there is a “serious need to curb abuses of such visual presentations” and encouraged “trial court judges to intervene and to preview such slides before they are shown to a jury.”

How to Navigate the Minefield.

This all seem a bit crazy to me, but I do get it from the perspective of the State needing to exert control over itself as it’s represented in the judicial system. State prosecutors are held to a higher standard than other lawyers in the courtroom. I suspect that had the defense used a similar counter-point PowerPoint presentation in its own closing arguments, it would not have been misconduct or even close thereto. But, the State is supposed to be more even-handed and tempered.

I’m fairly certain that the prosecutor made his own PowerPoint presentation and had absolutely no guidance from anyone that knew how such a presentation should be made – this is fairly clear from the examples of slides above. First, regardless of how long the closing argument was, there is simply no reason that there should have been 250 slides. I cannot imagine what all these slides presented and how each one could be needed to tell the simple story of how very bad this bad guy was. So, the fact that there were 100 or so slides that expressed the prosecution’s flaming belief that the defendant was guilty of premeditated murder is, to say the least, excessive.

If I could get into my time machine and travel back in time to help this prosecutor, my advice would have been to tighten up the presentation as a whole, to use more well-crafted and less over-the-top graphics, and to make his hard-hitting, prosecutorial-belief slides just those at the very beginning and very end of the presentation (which would reduce the “inflammatory” slides from 100 to maybe 4 or 5). I can imagine prosecution counsel pounding on the lectern and shouting during closing arguments, too – my advice: don’t (the facts are on his side). I would advise counsel to have a tight and reasonable story, to develop well-composed slides that fit with this story and show the evidence, and to summarize the evidence only at the beginning and end with the thematic, “Defendant is Guilty – Defendant is a Callous Murderer – Defendant Put No Value A Real Man’s Life” slide. I suspect with this advice, the murder stays in prison and the prosecution is saved embarrassment.

In non-criminal cases and cases outside of Washington, I suspect this case and the sentiment of Washington’s Supreme Court are mostly irrelevant. It is our goal as litigators to zealously advocate for our clients and when we don’t work for the state, we probably have a lot more leeway to do so. It is imperative that we use strong and reasonable stories, themes, and well-crafted, supporting visuals to evoke sympathetic and empathetic emotions in jurors. As a professional litigation consultant, I help identify ways to do this that are not so heavy handed as Washington’s state attorneys’ tactics.

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

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Advocacy Graphics, PowerPoint, Criminal

The BIG List of All 337 Litigation Consulting Report Articles

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 @ 11:30 AM


litigation consulting report big listby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Since 2011, we have published 337 articles on the Litigation Consulting Report blog. Our blog has been named one of the industry's best by the American Bar Association and now, five or ten people subscribe every day for free.

The amount of valuable content available at no charge is overwhelming. You can read articles organized by topic using the tags that appear in the lower right column of this blog. You can download e-books that organize articles into useful subject areas, and you can search A2L's entire 1200-page site by using the search field at the top of the right column.

Still, it's a lot of content to get your arms around. With this in mind, today I am listing all 337 articles below organized into five topic areas:

  • Litigation Graphics: includes articles about PowerPoint use at trial, animation, how one should use litigation graphics consultants, practice area specific graphics and more.
  • Jury & Trial Consulting: includes those articles that relate to the role of a jury or trial consultant, how to structure mock exercises and those articles that discuss how best to communicate with a judge or jury.
  • Trial Technology: includes articles about the best traits of a trial technician, how best to deploy technology in the courtroom, how to avoid technology problems and more.
  • E-Books & Webinars: provides a list of many of our e-books and webinars released over the past three years.
  • General: covers topics like economic conditions, witness preparation, tips for trial, storytelling, making presentations outside the courtroom and those articles that cut across multiple subject areas.
In each category, articles are listed newest first. I encourage you to browse for information that might be helpful to you, and I always welcome questions that you may have (lopez@A2LC.com). Social sharing and email article buttons are available on every article.

Litigation Graphics

Jury & Trial Consulting

Trial Technology and Trial Technicians

E-Books & Webinars


litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology



Tags: Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Trial Consulting, E-Book, Demonstrative Evidence, Webinar

11 Small Projects You Probably Don't Think Litigation Consultants Do

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 @ 09:19 AM

small litigation consulting graphics trial tech projectsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong, and perhaps the entire litigation consulting industry is doing something wrong. Every so often when I am talking to a litigator they say something like, "but you guys wouldn't do a small project like that, right?" Nine times out of ten, nothing could be further from the truth. It's exactly what we do. So, why do litigators seem to think litigation consultants only work on BIG projects?

I've talked to my colleagues in the litigation consulting industry (i.e. jury consulting, litigation graphics and courtroom technology), and we agree that most of us suffer from a reputation that the industry has collectively built over the last 20 years. For better or for worse, the belief seems to be that you have to have a big case to warrant hiring a litigation consultant.

Reality is very different. Every single day of the year we are working on a project that most would characterize as small. To give you a flavor for projects that I would consider small but are routine for firms like ours, here is a list of 11 sample projects we have done that were all in the $2500-$7500 range: 

  1. Design a litigator's two-hour CLE PowerPoint presentation. Left on their own, most attorneys will build a presentation filled with text and bullet points. This is an example of failing to combine oral and visual messages properly, and it often does more harm than good. The oral and visual message ends up being nearly identical, and the audience suffers for it. So, it is our pleasure to help refine these presentations. See 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations and Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors.
  2. Use a series of illustrations to make an animation. Animation does not always have to be expensive. This series of illustrations below brought into PowerPoint and played in quick succession gives the feel of animation without the big cost. See What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples).

  3. Five printed trial boards designed and used at trial. I'm convinced that printed trial exhibit boards are making a strong comeback. Why? Well, juries are used to PowerPoints now. If you want to make them pay attention, a trial board is a good way to cause them to pause and think, "this must be important, they made this impressive big poster just for us."

  4. Two-day arbitration with a supporting trial technician. When there are no litigation graphics and jury consulting needs, using a trial technician for a couple of days is quite affordable. See Making Good Use of Trial Director & Demonstratives in an Arbitration and Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics.

  5. A day and a half of witness prep. One witness can easily make or break a case. For a small investment, the return on high-quality witness preparation can be enormous. Most litigation consulting firms with a jury consulting expertise should be able to provide this service, but not all are created equal. See Witness Preparation: Hit or Myth?The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses and 7 Things Expert Witnesses Should Never Say.

  6. Clean up, enhance and label 30 photos for trial presentation. It's not as easy to "enhance" a photo as they make it look on CSI, but it is not expensive to do either. The right amount of clean up and encouraging labels that direct juror attention can be a wise investment.

  7. Create a settlement presentation. Obviously, most cases settle. Without a strong position and leverage, a settlement will be much lower than it could have been. Smart litigators work with litigation graphics consultants to develop a mini-closing presentation that creates leverage by giving a flavor of how trial might go. With no rules of evidence to create boundaries, maximum intestinal discomfort creates maximum leverage.

  8. Design a 12 slide pre-indictment presentation. The government may not have many trial budget restraints, but they don't like to lose either. Good white-collar defense counsel will work with a litigation consulting firm to create a a presentation that shows the government why they will lose at trial if they choose to indict the client. See 4 Litigation Graphics Tactics When the USA is a Client or a Foe and 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not).

    storytelling persuasion courtroom litigation webinar

  9. Clean up and refine a 45-slide administrative hearing PowerPoint. Two-thirds of the population prefers to learn visually. If you neglect to present complementary visual aids, you will forfeit a large portion of your persuasive power. If you have a presentation in the works, letting a professional clean it up and refine it can be a very smart use of budget dollars. See 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom PresentationsPersuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You, and Presentation Graphics: Why The President Is Better Than You.

  10. Spend a day discussing and another day finalizing five litigation graphics. I don't think it takes more than five great litigation graphics to win a case - the question is always which five however. That's why spending a day with a litigation consultant who is a litigator and graphics expert themselves (I know three good ones nationwide) will yield time and money savings. If you can work together to identify five amazing silver-bullet graphics, you can win a case on a small budget. See Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer).

  11. I lied, this one is actually free. One thing we do that I encourage our fellow litigation consultants to do (who feel qualified to do this work) is to provide sales presentation support gratis to clients who are making pitches or presentations. We have done this for years, and I know how much our clients appreciate it.

I hope this dispels some myths about the jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology consulting industries. While some projects surely are six-figure projects, the reality is that most are not. Like a lot of things in life, it never hurts to ask your litigation consulting firm whether they can help you.

Other articles related to costs of jury consulting, litigation graphics, trial technicians, animation, keeping budgets down and alternative fee arrangements.

getting value new normal legal economy inhouse counsel lit support

Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Witness Preparation

Free E-Book: Using Trial Technicians and Trial Technology (3rd ed.)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 @ 12:15 PM


trial technicians trial technology ebookby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

As a litigator, you don’t want to be caught troubleshooting technology in the courtroom when there are other more important things you need to think about. Sometimes called trial technicians, hot-seat operators, trial consultants, or onsite courtroom technology specialists, these courtroom experts can drastically affect both your trial preparation and your trial presentation.

You need to choose a great person, as the performance of a trial technician can have an enormous effect on the outcome of your case. When a trial technician performs well, the litigator looks like the lead in a well-choreographed production. Hire the wrong trial technician, and you could look less believable, unprepared or even silly.

A2L Consulting has been deploying trial technicians worldwide over the past three decades. We know what works, what personalities fit with certain litigators, and what to avoid. We have prepared this 83-page book, Trial Technicians and Trial Technology: A Litigator's Guide to share many of A2L's secrets and best practices for using trial technicians and trial technology. This book is A2L's third edition about this important topic.

Having someone to organize all of the evidence that might be used at trial, when done the right way, can dramatically increase your litigation team’s chances of success. As a litigator, you can focus on strategic trial preparation of arguments, experts, and witnesses, instead of the availability of documents and evidence, the proper functioning of courtroom and war-room technology, and the inevitable technological hiccups.

Your trial technician should be ready to show trial exhibits, demonstrative exhibits, courtroom animations, video depositions, and anything else, on cue. They also need to know how to address PowerPoint problems, hard drive troubles, unknown image or file formats, and other issues that may arise both on the road to litigation and during the actual trial. They will stay up late with you, perform under extreme pressure, finish last-minute work when necessary, and, if they are great, anticipate your needs in the courtroom.

We've put together content to help you differentiate the good and the great - and great litigators know that hiring "good enough" is a recipe for disaster. Topics included in this e-book are preventable trial preparation mistakes, what you must know when considering trial technicians, iPads in the courtroom, and working on a tight budget. Hiring a great trial technician will result in a smooth, seamless, (technology related) stress-free trial. Hiring a mediocre one will add the anxiety of something going wrong. With rates averaging $200/hour, you definitely want to get it right.

You may download this 83-page book by clicking here. It is completely complimentary and contains 35 articles that will help you identify the best trial technicians, improve your relationship with trial technology and provide useful tips for veteran and novice litigators and litigation support professionals alike.

trial technician trial technology courtroom technology consultants new york texas florida california boston virginia

Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Technology, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Litigation Support

What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 @ 03:20 PM


litigation animation cost courtroom consultantsby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

Our firm, A2L Consulting, is a national litigation consulting firm with a wide range of trial-focused services from jury consulting to mock trials to trial graphics to courtroom trial technology services. However, most people don't know that I founded A2L 18 years ago after I had taught myself computer animation while in law school.

To me, it made sense to try to fit these two subjects together. In retrospect it was quite smart. At the time, though, my friends and family looked at me with a somewhat perplexed gaze.

You see, animation was just emerging on the scene with movies like Jurassic Park and Toy Story. In the courtroom the first litigation animations were being used in a handful of cases in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Back then, people would quote animation costs at as high as $1,000 per finished second of animation. These numbers seem preposterous today, as production costs have plummeted and prices more along the lines of $1,000 per finished minute are not uncommon.

However not all litigation animations are created equal. Indeed there are many types and there is a flavor for every case and every budget.

In a previous article I described the types of litigation animation used typically in the courtroom. To summarize, they are PowerPoint animation, 2-D animation, and 3-D animation. There are several variants of 2-D animation, and one looks convincingly similar to 3-D animation.

There are a variety of tools used to produce animation from PowerPoint on a laptop to Flash on a desktop PC or to Maya on a workstation. Not only do the costs of hardware and software vary dramatically but the kind of people who produce these animations vary in their availability and demand.

Suffice it to say that PowerPoint animators are the most readily available and can work on the least expensive hardware-software combination. At the other end of the spectrum are 3-D animators. Good ones are few and far between, and they require high-end software and hardware and lots of experience to produce good work.

Not only is there variability in cost of production, but there is significant variability in the time required to produce a finished product. Some PowerPoint animations can be done in a few minutes and may be all you need for your case. Other 3-D animations may require weeks or months to develop a finished product for trial.

Below is a guideline for what a trial team should expect to pay for three types of typical litigation animation projects.

1. Five minutes of a PowerPoint animation-style exhibit with average complexity. For something along these lines, I would expect to invest between $5,000 and $15,000, with the variability explained by the amount of complexity and the amount of back-and-forth. Here is an example of project like this where video playback patents had to be explained at trial:

Below is an example of another PowerPoint-style animation used in an ITC case involving ground fault circuit interrupters.

2. Ten minutes of animation built from drawings or schematics
, perhaps of an environmental spill or plume, an architectural drawing or a bringing a patent drawing to life as we explained in this article. For this project, which likely requires more technical skill in the use of a product like Adobe After Effects or perhaps Flash, I would expect to invest between $10,000 and $35,000. Below is an animation of toner tubes from a patent case. The models were built from existing CAD technical drawings which sometimes saves considerable time and money on litigation animation costs.

Below is an example of 2-D animation used to explain how a power plant works and give a sense of its scale:

3. A 15-minute 3-D animation of a complex subject
like a highly technical patent, a structure collapse or perhaps a complex aviation accident. Assuming the animation was still considered demonstrative in nature rather than a simulation, which requires an entirely different level of complexity, I would expect to invest between $40,000 and $150,000 for this type of product. Below is an example of a 3-D animation used in a patent trial that resulted in the 6th largest verdict in patent litigation history:

Below is another 3-D animation used in a mediation for an environmental insurance coverage dispute:

In the 3-D litigation animation example below, the layout of a coal-fired power plant is explored:

Of course all of these costs are highly variable but they provide broad guidance for what to expect and how to look at your projects as you think about trial. Below are some additional materials related to animation for use at trial.

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

Tags: Patent Tutorial, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Patent Litigation

The Top 10 A2L Consulting Litigation E-Books

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

top 10 a2l consulting litigation ebooksby Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
A2L Consulting

At A2L Consulting, we not only try to serve our clients and to produce great results at trial; we also want to become thought leaders in the trial consulting world and to educate lawyers, experts, and others on the exciting developments that are going on, both in research on juries, persuasion and other topics, and in the actual use of trial techniques.

All of our ebooks are free to anyone. You need not be a client of A2L. In the past two years, more than 10,000 free ebooks have been downloaded from A2L Consulting's site. 

We release a new book focused on a particular area of the legal industry just about every month.  Our first ebook, back in 2011, was not even 10 pages long.  Some of our recent books have been more than 150 pages long.

Most of our ebooks feature a curated list of articles culled from our hundreds of published blog posts and other articles on litigation topics plus a few extras. All have been released completely free in the spirit that we can elevate the quality of work being done in the litigation consulting industry.

For example, the Complex Civil Litigation Trial Guide, our most popular download so far, is 174 pages and is designed for the trial lawyer preparing for a complex case. But the insights in it can help almost anyone who wants to learn more about trial strategy and tactics.

The topics in that ebook include: Seven Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement, How to Embrace a Two-Track Strategy and Win the War, Six Reasons the Opening Statement is the Most Important Part of a Case, How Timelines Can Persuade Judges and Juries, and Ten Videos to Help Litigators Become Better at Storytelling.

This ebook, like many of our other offerings, starts with the premise that the most important thing that a litigation consultant can do to help a trial team is to focus on the story that that trial team wants to develop. A litigation consultant brings not only the common sense that a fresh pair of eyes offers but also the experience of having seen, in hundreds of trials, what works and what does not work.

So one of the reasons this ebook has succeeded so well is that it can help any trial team develop a case and win at trial. It shows how to master the complexities of your case, yet still remain able to explain them to a judge or jury in a straightforward manner.

It also shows how to pick a trial graphics consultant to support your work, what to do when your trial team goes bad as a result of the anxiety that understandably can accompany any piece of complex litigation, and how trial graphics can explain even the most complicated scientific and engineering concepts to a jury. 

Here are our top 10 litigation ebooks listed in descending order by download count. 

  1. describe the imageComplex Civil Litigation Trial Guide (1st & 2nd Editions) - 1,918 Downloads, released Feb 25, 2013
  2. patent litigation graphics presentation guide Patent Litigation Trial Presentation Toolkit (1st & 2nd editions) - 1,669 Downloads, released September 10, 2012
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Who Is, and Who Isn’t, a Litigation Consultant?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 @ 04:21 PM

what is a litigation consultant who is not consulting
by Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
A2L Consulting

In February of this year, we released a draft infographic to help explain what a litigation consultant is and what a litigation consultant does. We solicited and received feedback from the many members of the legal industry. Today, we're proud to release this litigation consultant infographic [PDF] and to encourage others to use it to help explain what we litigation consultants actually do.

This exercise caused me to ask: What, in fact, do litigation consultants actually do? It also allowed me to reflect on the experience I had working with a colleague over the last year.

A year ago, a new litigation consultant joined our team and quickly observed, “All too often, we don't have a chance to actually consult. Why?” He had been a litigator at a major law firm who had actually hired A2L for a case where we went on to win more than $500 million in a jury verdict. So he had a good perspective, and we've spent the last year discussing how we would like the industry to develop over the next 10 years.

We've already made some general observations like:

1) Too many people call themselves “consultants” in our industry who do not actually consult (i.e. share their unique expertise) on anything.

2) Our firm is quite serious about adding noticeable and measurable value to each engagement.

3) Not all trial teams leave room for litigation consulting.

So, we've spent the last year adding some structure to trial preparation. For example, we've introduced two new mock exercises - the Mock Markman for patent litigators and the Micro-Mock™ for general litigation, arbitration and hearings. These add to our Mind-Mapping litigation strategy session.

Each of these exercises is designed to help the trial team be their best at trial. Each is designed to help enforce the idea that each opening statement must consist of a story with a well-developed theme that people care about. Each is designed to be consultative.

There are good litigation consultants out there, and, just as there are bad lawyers, there are also bad litigation consultants. The evidence that a bad one is involved includes a lack of preparation, a lack of meaningful experience, and an inability to add value.

Compare our team (and the teams of some other top litigation consulting firms) with lesser firms. Our client-facing people are litigators themselves -- some with more than a billion dollars of jury verdicts. By contrast, some other firms in the industry, I'm told, are of the order-taking variety, they have client-facing "consultants" who are really 20-something project managers and there are firms who offer strategy consulting former law firm technical support staff.

So, one takeaway of figuring out who a litigation consultant is and what he/she does is recognizing that there are different types.  If you have a serious case, pick serious consultants. If you have a minor technical challenge and need documents displayed properly, find a firm that does simply that - whether they call themselves litigation consultants or not.

Download a PDF Version of the Litigation Consultants Infographic by clicking here.


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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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