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The Litigation Consulting Report

How to Get Great Results From a Good Lawyer

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 @ 12:35 PM

litigation-consultants-great-lawyer-good-lawyer.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Not all lawyers are created equal. It's amazing how hard it is for those outside the legal industry to understand this.

Many people regrettably believe that those human aptitudes that require creativity and skill are binary. Either you can design a house or you can't. Either you can knit or you can't. Either you have a singing voice or you don’t. And in that same vein, either you're a lawyer or you're not.

This is the wrong way to look at it. In all these areas, there are variations and gradations of skills. This is never more true than for trial lawyers. The distance that separates the satisfactory from the great is vast. I have met very few people who are great trial lawyers.

The challenge with great trial lawyers is that they know they're great, and they charge accordingly. So what should a client or company do when they want to get great results at trial, but they only have the budget to pay a lawyer who is good but not great?

It is possible to do that – but it requires a new type of thinking and a new way of looking at the legal industry.

I've written before about the characteristics of great lawyers, the characteristics of great trial teams, and the challenge resulting from the fact that very few trial lawyers have much trial experience these days. There's just no substitute for experience. No one is that smart, that well-educated, or that well-mentored.

This solution is going to sound self-serving, but the longer I work in the litigation field, the more deeply I believe it. It goes like this: In the modern era, clients and lawyers simply must learn to rely on expert litigation consultants. They are the performance-enhancing drugs that make good trial lawyers great and great trial lawyers unbeatable. 

To be clear, these litigation consultants are not trial techs or 20-something graphic artists. Those professionals are important too, but that's not who I'm talking about. Instead, these are trial-tested litigators or highly experienced Ph.D. consultants who routinely act as coaches to the best of the best trial lawyers. These are people who go to trial every month and operate with the best of the best.  

They offer a kind of assistance that is relatively new in the industry. They work with counsel to develop a compelling narrative. They help develop an opening statement. They prepare just the right visuals using scientifically proven techniques that enhance persuasion.

These litigation consultants are not easy to find. I'd be happy to recommend someone who is the right fit for you.

Other A2L articles and resources related to litigation consulting, storytelling, and the use of litigation graphics to persuade include:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

 

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Jury Consultants, Storytelling, Opening, Midsize Law Firms, In-House Counsel, Persuasion

7 Ways to Overcome Cognitive Bias and Persuade

Posted by Alex Brown on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 @ 04:50 PM

cognitive-bias-persuasion-a2l-litigation-consultants.jpgby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

I read an article today that can be applied to our industry so well that I thought I should apply its lessons. The article was written by Eddie Shleyner and is titled: How to Defeat Your Most Dangerous Writing Habit: 7 Ways to Lift 'The Curse of Knowledge'

The article highlights the concept of being cursed due to knowing too much. The issue refers to someone who has studied a subject so thoroughly that it becomes difficult to explain it to people who don’t know as much about the subject.

As an example, he discusses the book, Made to Stick, where the Heath brothers provide an example: “Think of a lawyer who can’t give you a straight, comprehensible answer to a legal question. His vast knowledge and experience renders him unable to fathom how little you know. So when he talks to you, he talks in abstractions that you can’t follow. And we’re all like the lawyer in our own domain of expertise.”

Cognitive bias is what we are talking about. Shleyner notes that this is particularly dangerous to writers, since in conversation, a listener can ask questions to clarify the issue. But litigators, when giving an opening or closing statement, are in the same boat as writers since they are unable to ask or receive questions from their audience.

So, how can you defeat this curse? Ironically, more knowledge is the answer. The more you know about the curse, the less likely you will succumb to it and the more persuasive you will be. Let’s take a look at his seven best practices to combating this curse and apply them to our industry.

1. Know your audience’s base subject knowledge.

Jury Research. Focus Groups, Mock Exercises. Basically, you need to know your audience. Not only to know how they think, but why, what, who, where and the often forgotten wow. Learn how they think, learn the history to know why they think this way, but most importantly, figure out how to say it in a way that will wow them and be remembered.

Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom

5 Reasons Why Jury Consulting Is Very Important

Group Psychology, Voir Dire, Jury Selection and Jury Deliberations


2. Tone down your vocabulary.

cognitive-bias-synapse.jpgSpeak to the audience, not at the audience. A sure way to do this is to talk to them in a way that they will not only be able to understand, but also remember. Last night I was working on AP Psychology with my oldest (a junior in high school) and we were discussing the structure of the brain and the nervous system, specifically the identification of synapse gaps and the different interfaces.  I used the concept of roundabouts and how they connect roads. It fits but I did not consider the audience, since my daughter does not drive yet. My wife talked about soldering and it clicked since my daughter is doing that currently in her mechanical engineering class. Remember to speak “to” your audience, not “at” or “down” to them.

21 Steps I Took For Great Public Speaking Results

8 Habits of Successful and Persuasive Public Speakers

 

3. Tell a story.

At least 65% of your audience will be or consider himself or herself a visual learner. This means that they relate better and retain information at a higher rate through visuals or graphics. No matter how well you can paint a picture with words, the majority of your audience actually wants pictures. So that’s what you give them.

Litigators, Portray Your Client As a Hero In 17 Easy Storytelling Steps

6 Ways to Become a Better Storyteller

10 Videos to Help Litigators Becme Better at Storytelling

Storytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive

  

4. Ditch the abstractions.

Abstraction involves induction of ideas or the synthesis of facts into one general theory. It is the opposite of specification, which is the analysis or breaking-down of a general idea or abstraction into concrete facts. Basically, give examples that are concrete. Example:

ABSTRACT: Americans must be willing to protect our freedoms. 

CONCRETE: Voters must protect their Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches and seizures by calling or writing their representatives to protest the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. 

 

5. Provide examples.

Unlike abstractions, examples put concepts into perspective. In one of our cases involving alleged improper laddering transactions, the client was envisioning an abstract concept of showing a runner in a marathon jumping ahead and how in essence the opposition was intimating that this affected all the other racers in a way that was unfair or even illegal. We struggled with the concept because we could not guarantee that everyone who saw this would go down the same path and reach the same conclusion. Instead, we came up with the “dots” slide, which ended up appealing to the jurors’ sense of logic and was memorable.

ipo-class-action-dots-resized-600.jpg

As you can tell, this was done a few years ago, but it does not diminish the impact. Examples based on concrete concepts are usually more persuasive then abstract concepts.

 

6. Use visuals.

Bullet points are not visuals. Visuals reinforce the message and they are not meant to be redundant reiterations of what you are saying. Here are some good examples in these photos.

bullet-points-gates-jobs-bad-kill-bullets.jpg

12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad

The Redundancy Effect

Should You Read Documents Out Loud at Trial?

Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools?

7. Get an outside point of view.

When we are creating images/graphics for the matters we are supporting, we always discuss it amongst ourselves, the clients, strangers passing by… pretty much everyone. Not because we are worried or just want to show off, but because the input is invaluable to get the most persuasive graphic for our audience to connect with and understand. Why would it be different when considering your opening, closing or witness interviews or cross. Get people together to hear and see what you are planning on saying. Use peers and A2L in a MicroMock so we can review the message, and how you are delivering it.

Introducing a New Litigation Consulting Service: the Micro-Mock

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

3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation

Other A2L Consulting articles and free resources about cognitive bias and persuasion:

how to persuade visually arguments persuasive graphics

Tags: Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Closing Argument, Persuasion, Cognitive Bias

The Top 5 Litigation & Persuasion Focused Articles of Q2 & Q3 2016

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 @ 03:25 PM

iStock_79502561_SMALL.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

In the first quarter of 2016, A2L Consulting reported record amounts of business and web traffic. Well, those numbers have only continued to climb throughout the second and third quarters of this year. High stakes litigation is booming across the industry, although it's not heavily concentrated in any one law firm or in any one business sector. 

Every year, more than a quarter million visits are paid to A2L's blog, The Litigation Consulting Report. Each year we publish more than 100 articles focused on highly specialized areas of persuasion science, jury consulting, high-stakes litigation, and the use of litigation graphics at trial.

To help our readership find the very best articles, we publish "best of" articles like this one throughout the year. Today, I'm highlighting the five articles that you, our readers, voted the very best of the past two quarters. I think each is a fascinating read.


How top trial teams and top trial lawyers behave5. 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams: Our top trial experts at A2L seek to distill the essence of trial preparation and develop a numerical way to measure its quality and predict success.








top trial team trial lawyer traits4. 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams: We tell our readers what the unique characteristics of the top trial teams are. Some of them are quite surprising.







Better storytelling for lawyers3.  6 Ways to Become a Better Storyteller: At A2L, we share the results of our best thinking on storytelling at trial. What are the best time-tested techniques?






SPICE persuasion tricks2.  SPICE Is the Key to Persuasion: An expert on the art of persuasion identifies the key aspects of persuading juries or anyone else, summed up in the acronym SPICE.




 

 

 

 


PowerPoint tips and tricks1. 12 Things About PowerPoint You Probably Never Knew: A litigation graphics expert shows how little-known aspects of PowerPoint, far from being dull, can help persuade when creating PowerPoint trial graphics.

 

 



 

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l

Tags: Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Articles, Trial Preparation, Jury Selection, Opening

6 Ways to Become a Better Storyteller

Posted by Alex Brown on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 @ 12:28 PM

storytelling-for-courtroom-litigation-lawyersby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

As we have mentioned before in this blog, the art of storytelling is a crucial skill for a trial lawyer. From the very beginning of a trial, many jurors will envision the facts of the case in the form of a story. Our brains are wired to tell stories, to listen to stories, and to remember stories. Storytelling began with the caveman and the campfire and is still the best way to present information to an audience.

Think of the difference between these two statements:

  1. I went to the market.
  2. I went to the 7-11 at midnight to buy a Diet Mountain Dew and to play Pokemon Go because I am addicted to that game.

Statement 1 is just a flat statement. It has no specifics and does not draw the reader or listener in. Statement 2, on the other hand, intrigues the reader or listener. Why did you go that late at night? How did you fare in your session of Pokemon Go? What happened when you got home? And so on. It is potentially the beginning of a story.

As a trial lawyer, you will be telling stories. You want your audience to be drawn in and involved. Here are some points to consider in developing a story:

  1. Have a purpose. Who wants to hear a story when you know that the storyteller has no destination or end in sight? You feel trapped. Or worse, you zone out and stop listening to save yourself the pain of the journey. Your audience, a judge or a jury, is human and will react similarly.

  2. Develop a beginning, a middle and an end. A story is meant to guide a listener down a path. In your story, build in some “signposts” so that the listener has an idea of where the story is going. Of course, don’t give everything away too soon.

  3. Use visuals to provide depth and to keep your listeners’ interest. We are a visual species. More than 60 percent of people learn primarily by using their eyes. Use visual elements to invoke images and feelings that you want your listeners to hold onto.

  4. Emphasize a hero. Luke Skywalker, Superman, James Bond. All of them were heroes that an audience could connect with and root for. When building your narrative, paint a picture that makes the audience sympathize with your hero.

  5. Have a villain. Darth Vader, Lex Luthor, Dr. No. Audiences learned to hate these villains and to hope that the hero vanquished them. Flesh out the wrongdoings of the villain to give your hero credibility.

  6. Use a consistent voice. Once you are ready to tell your story, tell it in a way that you are comfortable with. Find a voice that is appropriate to you and to your audience. The only way to do that is to practice.

Other articles on storytelling at trial, developing a great story and being a better storyteller from A2L Consulting include:

A2L Consulting's Storytelling for Litigators 3rd Ed E-book

 

Tags: Storytelling, Opening

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

The Top 6 Litigation & Persuasion Focused Articles of Q1-2016

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 @ 03:48 PM


6_top_litigation_and_persuasion_articles.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

The first quarter of 2016 was one of A2L Consulting busiest in our 20+ year history. Not only was business up, visits to our web site increased 10% over the first quarter of 2015, and our Litigation Consulting Report Blog reached 8,000 subscribers. These metrics suggest that the litigation industry, particularly the big-ticket litigation segment, continues to perform well.

The growth in the number our blog subscribers is truly eyeopening. Just a little more than year ago we were celebrating reaching 5,000 subscribers. I still find it completely amazing that about 200 people sign up for our award-winning litigation and persuasion-focused blog every month.

Since we launched this publication that now sees more than 250,000 visits every year, hundreds of new clients have found their way to A2L and thousands more have benefited from the information we have shared here, from free articles to free e-books to free podcasts to free webinars. Five years ago, I thought the whole idea of blogging was misguided, and boy, was I wrong.

To enhance our reader's experience, each quarter we help surface those articles have been "voted" the very best in the most recent quarter. That is, if we publish 25 articles in a three-month period, some are going to be viewed more often than others, and these are effectively voted the very best.

These six articles below were voted the very best by our readers in the first quarter of 2016.

CBP1210903.jpg6.  Millennials and Jury Psychology: Why Don't They Follow the Rules?A jury consultant analyzes the jury psychology of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and focuses on this generation's distrust for authority.











CBP1030985.jpg5.  A Jury Consultant Is Called for Jury Duty: A well-known jury consultant finds herself in a Manhattan courtroom as a prospective juror and describes her experiences.







CBP1104355.jpg4.  3 Trial Preparation Red Flags That Suggest a Loss is Imminent: Some trial team behaviors during trial preparation are leading indicators for a loss at trial. Here are three that are consistent red flags.











tony-klapper-welcome-litigation-consultant-litigation-graphics.jpg3.  9 Things I've Noticed About Effective Litigation Graphics After 20 Years as a Litigator: A top litigator with 20 years of trial experience shares his views on litigation graphics today: What are the best techniques?








cuddy-presenting-win-litigator-belief.jpg2.  A Harvard Psychologist Writes About Presenting to Win: Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy released a new book called Presence, and it is filled with a wealth of useful information for litigators about persuasion.




Screen_Shot_2016-03-23_at_10.22.12_AM.png1.  5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements: A presentation expert analyzed what makes certain TED Talks successful. The same principles -- use hand gestures! -- apply to opening statements.

 

 



 

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l

Tags: Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Articles, Jury Selection, Opening, Body Language

5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 @ 11:20 AM


TED Talks lawyers opening statements persuasionby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Last week, I wrote about a new book that proposes a variety of life, body, and brain hacks to make us more persuasive. That book is written by Amy Cuddy, one of the top TED speakers of all time. I think the lessons she teaches are incredibly valuable for litigators looking to maximize persuasiveness during their opening statements.

So, you might ask, what makes a good TED Talk a great one? After all, some TED Talks have tens of millions of views, while others on equally interesting topics have far fewer views. I am a big fan of TED Talks, and I have highlighted some aspects of them in previous articles such as The Top 10 TED Talks for Lawyers, Litigators and Litigation Support and The Top 14 TED Talks for Lawyers and Litigators 2014.

If you happen not to know what TED Talks are, they are simply short talks, generally combined with some visual support, that are sponsored by TED, a nonprofit foundation. TED Talks have become the gold standard for thoughtful, innovative presentations to lay people in many areas of endeavor.

Last year, Vanessa Van Edwards, an expert on presentations and on human behavior, studied what makes a great TED Talk, and the results are a mix of fascinating and frightening for most people. I say frightening since many of these results fly in the face of the conventional wisdom.

Of course, as someone who lives and breathes trial presentations, I have a bit of an agenda here. I think that each of the lessons that Van Edwards gleaned from the elements of a great TED Talk are perfectly analogous to great lessons for how lawyers should make an opening statement. So, here are her five key findings:

  1. The speakers’ nonverbal body language is as important as what the speakers said. This finding is quite consistent with what Amy Cuddy found in her studies. Here however, study participants ranked speakers exactly the same whether the audio was turned on or not. That's right, what people said, did not particularly influence how much a speaker was liked. Remember a key difference here between a TED Talk and an opening statement. Jurors are asked specifically to make a decision about the facts and law - not only about whose message, style, and charisma they like best.

  2. The more hand gestures used, the more the speaker was liked. Specifically, lower ranked TED Talks had an average of 124,000 views and those speakers used an average of 272 hand gestures during an 18-minute presentation. Top TED presenters had an average of 7,360,000 views and used an average of 465 hand gestures. These first two findings point to a clear need to gesture more – but as Amy Cuddy tells us, it has to be authentic. This is no easy task, and practice is the only way to train yourself to be truly authentic. See, Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well and 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation

  3. Vocal variety generates higher charisma and credibility ratings. Speakers who appeared to speak from a script were disfavored, while those who changed pitch, altered pacing, and varied volume were rated much higher than those who did not.

  4. Smiling gets more likes. The more someone smiles in a TED context, the better they are received as a speaker. Does this translate to an opening statement? I’m not so sure. It would really depend on the subject matter I would think. After all, smiling during the recitation of a terrible fact pattern certainly will not be rewarded. However, on balance, where there is opportunity to do so, smiling will add to likeability. See also, Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom.

  5. Your first seven seconds determine how the rest of your message is received. Clearly, this is true during opening statement or even during voir dire. You will be judged by your opening line, how you deliver it, and your appearance. That snap judgment will likely color the impression of your message for the reminder of the case.

 Here's a great video from the study's author that adds color to this topic. 

Additional articles and resources from A2L Consulting about opening statements, persuasion, practice, and whether being liked by your jury really matters:

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l

Tags: Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Presentation Graphics, Psychology, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Persuasion

A Harvard Psychologist Writes About Presenting to Win

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 @ 04:59 PM


cuddy-presenting-win-litigator-belief.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I wrote about Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy's body language TED Talk in 2012. Her findings about how striking a power pose can measurably affect your persuasiveness are as relevant for litigators today as they were four years ago.

Professor Cuddy has released a new book called Presence, and it is filled with an even greater wealth of useful information for litigators. She goes into detail about what one can do to prepare for a high-pressure situation like a job interview, a competitive swim meet, or a venture capital pitch - all situations similar enough to an opening statement that we can safely assume the same advice applies.

When one is delivering as their best self, they are said to be exhibiting "presence." She says that presence is most clear to others when "we feel personally powerful, which allows us to be acutely attuned to our most sincere selves." In other words, when we believe in our message and believe in ourselves, we are in fact scientifically more believable to others - and there are ways to hack your own brain, like the power pose, to make these findings work for anyone.

Make no mistake, presence is not about feigning confidence or passion. Instead, exhibiting presence is more like being in sync with your true self. For these techniques to work and for you to maximize your persuasiveness in the courtroom, you really must authentically believe in yourself. But how?

Her suggestions for achieving presence are not conjecture. Cuddy roots her advice in solid science and rigorous study. For example, one study involved analyzing videos of 185 pitches to venture capitalists. In this setting, much like the courtroom, there is a clear winner and loser. Key behaviors (all sub-elements of presence) of all the presenters were assessed and compared with those who were successful in getting venture capital funding. 

The results are fascinating. Four factors clearly dominated all others in determining who got funding:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Confidence
  3. Passion
  4. Lack of Awkwardness

If you think about the great opening statements (and the worst) you have seen, don't these factors just make perfect sense? Doesn't that last point, in particular, resonate with some experiences you've seen (and hopefully not had) in the courtroom? For me, it certainly brings up memories of poor uses of PowerPoint, courtroom technology failures, and litigators who flubbed all sorts of things in front of a judge or jury.

Cuddy goes on to discuss a study involving mock job interviews where the candidates have to speak for 5 minutes to a group of judges who, by design, appear stoic during the entire interview. Some of the interviewees prepared by using a variety of mind and body power-enhancing techniques and some did not. Like the VC funding study and others discussed in the book, the findings of this study offer key lessons for litigators.

It turns out that you can cause others to see you as more persuasive by practicing a few key physical and mental exercises in advance of delivering your message (e.g. your opening statement). Of course, these findings apply to any high stress situation where you must be persuasive or "on."

If you want to increase your presence and thus your persuasiveness, practice some or all of these behaviors in a quiet place when no one else is watching you:

  1. Make Belief: Professor Cuddy encourages that, based on scientific studies, those going into stressful situations where persuasion will be critical, should first conduct this short three-part exercise. Step one is to identify several personal values that are important to you that you know are valued by others about you. Next, identify that value or trait that you rely on most (for me, I value my ability to deliver creative thoughts very quickly). Now, reflect on a time when you did that very well. This exercise tricks your brain into getting into a state of increased power and confidence so that you come across as more persuasive.

  2. Convey Confidence to Yourself: Before your next opening (or mock opening), assume a superhero-like power pose or a victory post for a couple of minutes. Just this act will significantly increase testosterone and decrease stress hormones.  Also, before walking into the courtroom, avoid working in a hunched position, as you would when looking at your phone. Doing so causes your brain to behave in a less powerful and confident way. If you are anxious, trick your brain into treating that anxiety as a positive by repeating, "I'm excited, I'm excited, I'm excited." 

  3. Act as if: Related to the above two concepts is the idea that we really can fake it until we make it. As Cuddy analogously explains throughout the book, if you act as though you have won your case before you walk into the courtroom, as you walk into the courtroom, and throughout the entire case, the natural swagger that this will cause you to exhibit will make you more persuasive.

At A2L, we're not usually hired to increase a litigator's presence, but we often end up delivering that result. You might ask how does a litigation consulting firm like ours help litigators achieve presence? Well, by helping litigators develop their presentations, making them highly persuasive, testing the presentations, practicing the presentations, and doing all the aforementioned work while being encouraging and not critical, we normally send a litigator into battle more confident than ever. It's exactly the kind of authentic from-the-inside kind of confidence that helps a litigator be more persuasive. 

One of our mottos at A2L is that "We Make Belief." I bet Amy Cuddy would approve of our approach.

Other articles from A2L Consulting about trial presentation, trial preparation, and courtroom presence include:

 

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l

Tags: Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Preparation, Psychology, Practice, Visual Persuasion, Opening, Persuasion

The Top 15 Free Litigation and Persuasion Articles of 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 @ 12:31 PM

litigation consulting jury consultants litigation graphics dc new york california texas chicago bostonby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Nearly 200,000 visits were made to A2L Consulting's Litigation Consulting Report Blog in 2015. With every page view, our readers express their opinion of the value of each article. Those that are the most valuable get the most page views. Today, I'm happy to share the very best articles of 2015 as chosen by our readers' reading habits.

This year, we posted 90 new articles, and that brings our total blog library to nearly 500 articles. If you are involved in litigation or have to persuade a skeptical audience of anything, these articles are an incredibly valuable resource that are available at absolutely no charge.

As we approach our five-year anniversary of this blog, I am very proud of our accomplishments. I'm excited to report that we now have 7,800 subscribers, some articles have been viewed more than 30,000 times, and the ABA named ours one of the top blogs in the legal industry. Not bad for our first five years.

In 2015, these 15 articles below stood out as the very top articles of 2015. Articles focused on PowerPoint, litigation graphics, persuasion, and voir dire continue to dominate our readers' interest.

Each of these articles can be easily tweeted or shared on Linkedin using the buttons below the article title. All are free to enjoy.

I wish you the very best 2016, and here is a link to claim a free subscription so that you get notified when these articles are published.


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

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14. A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial

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13. Lawyer Delivers Excellent PowerPoint Presentation

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

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11. 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 1

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

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

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8. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy - Pt 4 - 7 Reasons the Tactic Still Works

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7. 10 Ways to Lose Voir Dire

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6. Repelling the Reptile Strategy - Part 3 - Understanding the Bad Science

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

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4. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy - Part 5 - 12 Ways to Kill the Reptile

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3. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy - Pt 2 - 10 Ways to Spot the Reptile

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2. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 1

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

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a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Voir Dire, Psychology, PowerPoint, Visual Persuasion, Redundancy Effect, Opening, Persuasion

The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentation During Opening Statement

Posted by Lorraine Kestle on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 @ 10:15 AM

powerpoint-opening-statements-litigation-graphics-trialby Lorraine Kestle
Graphic Designer
A2L Consulting

The age-old adage that there are two sides (at least) to every story is clearly evident in litigation. Both parties believe that the applicable law, when applied to the facts, supports their position, or they likely would not be going to court. The parties and the lawyers are familiar with the facts and the law. Everyone fully understands the nuances of their position.

Everyone, that is, but the judge and jury who are hearing the case for the first time. It is these “novices to the case” who will ultimately decide which version of the facts or story is most persuasive.

For one day, I was a “novice to the case” in the courtroom as I helped our trial technician set up for a PowerPoint presentation in court. I observed both sides’ opening statements as well as the direct and cross-examinations.

Although I have been in the courtroom on numerous occasions, I had no prior knowledge of the substance of this matter and did not work on this presentation. Our client, the plaintiff in this case, delivered an opening statement that was enhanced with a PowerPoint presentation, while opposing counsel relied on typed or handwritten notes and an easel with a large paper tablet. After observing both approaches, I came away with what I think are interesting conclusions about the effect that the PowerPoint presentation had on my understanding of the case, the attorney’s arguments, and my initial impression of liability.

1. An Increased Perception Of Preparation, Competence And Persuasion

As a former paralegal, I know that preparation is one of the keys to success in litigation. And while I believe both sides were equally prepared, this was not the impression created in the courtroom by defendant’s counsel. What set the opening statements apart was the PowerPoint presentation used by our client. It served as a baseline of comparison for what followed.

The PowerPoint presentation not only emphasized key components of the opening statement, but it also added an air of competency and depth to the arguments being made. There was a clear, logical, and concise flow of information that was easy to follow. The visual presentation and callouts of relevant portions of emails and the employment contract clearly substantiated the verbal argument. This ultimately increased the impact of and the persuasive value of the opening statement. I have a clear visual picture of those emails and the contract that were the cornerstone evidence in the plaintiff’s case, even if I cannot recall the exact wording.

When defendant’s counsel did not use any visual or graphic presentations to support the opening statement, my first thought was, “Why is that?” My focus was not where it should have been; it was not on what he was saying. In fact, I was distracted by the numerous sheets of paper defense counsel brought to the podium and the yellow Post-it notes that were on it. It gave me the impression that they were less prepared than the plaintiff, which may or may not be the case. Nonetheless, this was my initial impression and I think ultimately influenced my view of their argument.

2. Increased Retention of Evidence Presented

For me, the evidence presented had greater weight when I could actually see the email communications that were made and the contract that was signed by the defendant. The document exhibit callouts, in particular, which supported the plaintiff’s arguments, became visually imprinted on my mind. And I received no other visual images from the defendant to compare or contrast them with. When I look back on that day, it is the callouts that I recall. This is what I remember, more than three days later.

3. Increased Attention to Arguments

When you are sitting behind the bar in the courtroom, you have a limited view of the exhibits and evidence being presented. However, when the PowerPoint slides were tied into the court’s monitors, it was much easier to see the evidence being offered. I found that I paid closer attention to the arguments being made; I was actively engaged in “looking” at the evidence to see if I agreed with what the lawyer was saying.   I could see that everyone, including the judge, was looking at the courtroom monitors.

On the other hand, when the defendant’s counsel was creating a live, hand-drawn organizational chart during cross-examination, not only could I not see it due to its orientation in the courtroom, I felt that it was too far away from the individual who was testifying and the judge. It was more difficult to follow the argument being made.

In conclusion, when I left court that day, I felt that the opening statement set the tone for everything that followed. The effective use of a PowerPoint presentation during the trial enhanced the arguments being made and, at the end of the day, our client prevailed. I can’t say I’m surprised at the outcome. They had me during opening statements.

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

opening statements toolkit ebook download a2l  

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Psychology, PowerPoint, Opening, Document Call-Outs, Trial Boards

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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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