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At A2L, we work on many disputes and trials of various types and sizes. Before starting work, we routinely provide our customers with estimates of what we think it will cost to engage us to conduct a mock trial, prepare trial presentations, assist in the development of the opening statement, and run the courtroom technology.   While it’s never easy to estimate the final costs of fast-moving complex litigation, it's something that firms like ours and large law firms do every day. We've been doing it for 24 years, and we've even pioneered some innovative pricing strategies for litigation graphics and trial tech work. However, I've noticed two schools of thought when it comes to estimating, and one of them seems to lead to better outcomes.   In shorthand, I'll call these two methods a top-down method and a bottom-up method. In my experience, the top-down method leads to more successful engagements, more wins, and much better and trusting relationships.  

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I’m far from alone in asserting that Steve Jobs was an inspiration to many entrepreneurs and CEOs of all ages. For many of us, his contrarian thought process, rigorous attention to detail, and spectacular showmanship formed a model for how to innovate, run a business, and find new customers.  I tracked Jobs’ career during my college and law school days and went so far as to email him a couple of times to thank him for the inspiration that he provided to me. Over the years, his 2007 speech introducing the iPhone served as a model for me. It showed me how to make a presentation that is both informative and inviting. I’ve written about that here. Later, when I was preparing to deliver a commencement speech, I used his 2005 Stanford commencement talk as an example. Steve Jobs’ presentations were admired by many. But not as many people have looked behind his presentations to understand that level of preparation that was involved in each presentation. An article earlier this year from Inc. magazine said it very well: Every product launch was brilliantly performed. Every move, demo, image and slide was in sync and beautifully choreographed. If I sound like I'm describing a Broadway show, you're right. A Steve Jobs presentation had more in common with an award-winning theatrical performance than a typical product launch. Apple still uses the time-tested formula including the final secret ingredient: Jobs rehearsed relentlessly. Carmine Gallo, the author of this article, pointed out that Jobs’ presentations looked effortless precisely because he put so much effort into them. These ideas are totally in keeping with the conclusions that I have reached in three decades of observing trial lawyers. I’ve heard far too many first-chair trial lawyers claim that the reason they didn’t practice their opening statement relentlessly was because it wouldn’t appear spontaneous if they did. Quite the contrary; the openings that I have heard that appeared the most spontaneous were precisely the ones that were the most thoroughly rehearsed. Apparently, Steve Jobs shared that approach. His grueling hours of practice became legendary in the tech industry. The Inc. article, in analyzing the desirable amount of practice time, concluded that the ideal is the 20-20 rule, which means that for a 20-minute presentation, one should go through the whole thing at least 20 times. This is consistent with the conclusions that I’ve reached about trial practice. We like to use a rule that a 60-minute opening should be practiced for at least 30 hours. We all want to look relaxed, confident and conversational in making our presentations. That is a good instinct because that style is in fact persuasive, but the way to get there is not with last-minute cramming, an opening statement practiced privately in a hotel room with no one listening, or an off-the-cuff talk relying on a few bullet points. The best openings I’ve ever seen are the result of countless hours of practice — often done in one-to-one sessions with an A2L litigation consultant. As is the case with any presenter, practice is what separates good trial lawyers from great trial lawyers. You might say, great trial lawyers just “think different” when it comes to practice. Other free A2L articles about trial preparations, delivering great presentations, practice, and developing opening statements include: $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation Conflict check: Be the first to retain A2L 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation Dan Pink, Pixar, and Storytelling for the Courtroom Practice is a Crucial Piece of the Storytelling Puzzle Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 3 - Storytelling for Lawyers Free A2L Consulting Webinar: Persuasive Storytelling for Litigation Storytelling at Trial Works - But Whom Should the Story Be About? Free 144 page A2L E-book download: Storytelling for Litigators Free A2L webinar - Storytelling as a Persuasion tool The Magic of a 30:1 Presentation Preparation Ratio The Very Best Use of Coaches in Trial Preparation 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations 7 Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement In Trial Presentation - A Camel is a Horse Designed by Committee The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere)

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Trial Lawyers, Relinquish the Clicker

It’s a phenomenon that I’ve seen countless times – renowned first-chair trial lawyers seeking to maintain hands-on control of their trial presentation by literally holding on to the clicker. Unfortunately, despite these lawyers’ sometimes desperate efforts to keep control, something almost always goes wrong in these situations. For example, lawyers can lose track of their place and get ahead of their presentation in PowerPoint or another form of presentation software. They can try to go back a slide or two and find that they can’t get back. They can even click around so wildly that they crash the software during an opening statement. As one can imagine, these scenarios can lead to a cascading meltdown for the presenter, who can become increasingly flustered. I’ve seen trial lawyers stop using their presentation software just because of an unanticipated “clicker crisis.” This level of crisis can be highly destabilizing for the lawyer’s team, as the lawyer’s frustration can spill over to the judge and jury. It can cause an immediate lack of credibility. At the very least, it can create distance between the trial team and the judge or jury, just at the moment when the team should be building rapport. The solution is remarkably simple. In a recent article, I wrote about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation concerning Iran’s nuclear capabilities. If you watched Netanyahu for even a few seconds, you noticed that he wasn’t controlling a clicker. He looked prepared, confident and convincing – and one reason for that is that he used the political equivalent of a trial tech or hot-seat operator to take charge of the clicker.

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Quite frequently, defendants in major cases will decide to form joint defense groups. Joint defense groups are intended to provide defendants with significant efficiencies that result from common effort in facing a common adversary, whether in a patent case against the same patent holder, tort litigation against the same set of injured people, white-collar criminal actions against the government, antitrust litigation against the same plaintiff, and so on. But joint defense groups, which by their nature bring together several high-powered lawyers at a single defense table in the courtroom, can present unique challenges. Sometimes, joint defense groups will work as planned and the defendants will reap the benefits of their cooperation, and sometimes they will break down. Here are some best practices for joint defense groups to follow at trial that will help them succeed rather than fall apart in the heat of trial. Clear Leadership. The group should pick a clear leader. Studies of organizational behavior and dynamics show that for “pop-up businesses” with limited durations and specific tasks to accomplish, like movie production crews or trial teams, success is associated with the early selection of a team leader. Many trial teams may be afraid to antagonize a lead attorney for one of the parties who is not chosen and may thus hesitate to make a choice, but it is best to pick a leader and move forward that way. Just Enough Consultants. The group should pick one consulting firm for each trial-related task – for example, one consultant to handle all graphics and litigation consulting. The “too many cooks” phenomenon is definitely present if the group decides to select multiple vendors for key consulting roles in the trial. The attorneys should be focusing on their case, not on resolving disputes between vendors.

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The trial technician, sometimes called the hot-seater, is the person who runs the courtroom technology so that a trial team does not have to do so. A trial tech typically uses programs like Trial Director to manage thousands of exhibits and has each at the ready to be displayed and highlighted. During opening, closing, and expert testimony, the trial tech runs the PowerPoint system to ensure flawless and well-choreographed presentations. The benefit of using a trial technician is that the trial team can focus on the law and the facts and can concentrate on connecting with the judge and jury rather than having to worry about the technology. When the relationship between trial counsel and the trial tech is smooth and well-rehearsed, the presentation looks like a perfectly planned and executed professional live production. We have been deploying trial technicians around the country for trials long and short for the past three decades. We were even sending out trial techs before PowerPoint was being used in the courtroom and when the preferred format for electronic evidence handling was the laser disk. In this time, we have employed dozens of trial techs and have learned what makes a good one and what kind of preparation equals success. Here are 12 tips for finding just the right technician: 1. Experience is everything. Our techs usually have a dozen or more major trials under their belts. Some have been to trial hundreds of times. They also routinely run the technology at hearings and during arbitrations/mediations. See, With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now? 2. The first-chair attorney must be willing to practice with them. There is no substitute for practice and preparation in the courtroom. The great trial lawyers practice frequently so that the trial looks flawless. See Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well. 3. They have war stories galore - particularly in overcoming problems. Courtrooms are not usually state of the art, so much of the technology must be brought in or enhanced. Otherwise, jurors are left wondering why their own living rooms and work conference rooms are much more advanced than what your trial team is providing. Great trial techs have overcome hundreds of small issues in a trial. See 12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout.

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Dr. Robert Cialdini has identified six basic principles of persuasion. One of them is liking. If people like you, they are more likely to say yes. Why is that important to a litigator? Quite simply, any litigator wants to persuade a jury, judge or other adjudicator to agree with her, and if the adjudicator likes her, she is more likely to win her case.  The key to getting someone to like you is to remember that it’s not just a momentary feeling but a sum of everything that the person thinks about you – and that the feeling is not permanent, but you can at any time do something to improve or to detract from the person’s feeling about you. As a litigator, you are always one misstep from losing the audience.  Here are ten things you can do as a litigator that will make you more likable: Focus on how you are perceived. In 2015 Jimmy Fallon put U2 in disguise and had them play at the 42nd subway stop in New York City. Even with cameras around, and the odd fact that the lead singer sounded just like Bono, they were largely ignored. Jimmy then framed the band (again in disguise) as a local band wanting support. Suddenly, once it was known they are U2, everyone went crazy. The most remarkable part was seeing an adolescent looking at them when in disguise as if he is waiting for a car crash, but the next time you see him, after the reveal, he is dancing and completely loving what he is hearing. They music did not change, just the framing. How you appear to your audience will set the stage for how they react and their willingness to give you the benefit of the doubt. See also, Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom. Ask questions. It is human nature to be helpful, and we all have the desire to share what we know. When someone appears to need our help, we tend to like them more because we are the ones providing answers. Just remember HOW you ask them is crucial.

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On this day sixty years ago, a 34-foot-tall Soviet rocket lifted off the Earth from a Cosmodrome in present-day Kazakhstan.  Its payload -- a shiny silver globe with four external antenna masts to broadcast a repeating radio chirp back to Earth.  The Soviets called it Prosteyshiy Sputnik 1 -- “Simple Satellite 1.” The world’s first successful orbiting satellite was tiny, just 22 inches in diameter and weighing 184 pounds.  But its “beep-beep -- beep-beep” signal was rebroadcast everywhere and easy to pick up directly by shortwave radio.  Sputnik could also be seen in orbit by the naked eye, the sun glinting off its polished shell.  In the moment a person first heard or saw Sputnik, they were catapulted into a new and different world.  For 21 days Sputnik circled our planet, captured our imaginations, reshaped American national priorities, and changed the order of our lives.  The Space Race began.  NASA opened for business one year later.  Within twelve years, Apollo 11 delivered two Americans to the Moon. Back to present-day Planet Earth.  You are a lawyer on a jury trial.  Opening statements begin tomorrow.  How will you capture the attention of your audience of jurors?  How will you get them to pay close attention, to focus on what matters most for your client?  Even the best storyteller struggles with this.  And to be honest, many trial presentations are, by their nature, not exactly heart-stopping.  Plan for that.  Find some element of the narrative that commands attention from the jurors, that challenges them to think deeply and to care genuinely about what is going on in that courtroom.  Capture the jurors’ attention in that opening statement, and you can have it again later, coming back to that moment when the story struggles to engage the listener.  Give jurors that moment they crave, that leaves them changed by something they just heard or saw.  Make jurors feel that the trial will make a difference in someone’s life, even in their own lives.  Mark the spot in the case that separates life “before” and life “after.”  Ask yourself, what is going to be your trial’s “Sputnik” moment? Other free A2L articles A2L and free webinars related to opening statements, storytelling, and being memorable at trial include: 6 Ways to Use a Mock Trial to Develop Your Opening Statement Free Download: Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed. 14 Differences Between a Theme and a Story in Litigation 25 Things In-House Counsel Should Insist Outside Litigation Counsel Do 5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements 7 Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 1 Why a litigator is your best litigation graphics consultant 6 Reasons The Opening Statement is The Most Important Part of a Case How to Structure Your Next Speech, Opening Statement or Presentation The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentation During Opening Statement 5 Things Every Jury Needs From You Is Hiring a Jury Consultant Really Worth It? Free A2L Consulting Webinar: 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements — Watch Anytime 12 Insider Tips for Choosing a Jury Consultant

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by Ken Lopez Founder/CEO A2L Consulting Every month, 1,000-2,000 free e-books and webinars are downloaded and viewed on A2L Consulting's web site. These free resources are likely the single best place on the Internet to learn how the best trial lawyers prepare for and win at trial. It's an exchange of litigation's best practices like no other. Judging by the topics searched for and read during the 100,000+ visits to A2L's website and industry-leading litigation blog so far in 2017, the legal industry is especially eager to learn more about voir dire, storytelling for persuasion (including visual persuasion), and jury consulting generally. Below are the top 10 free litigation best practice resources that have been downloaded and viewed so far in 2017. Choose your favorite(s) now, share this list with friends, and improve your results. Really, everything below is complimentary.    10. The Opening Statement Toolkit: In this 219-page book, you will find 66 articles curated from A2L's massive collection of posts related to litigation and persuasion. Each article relates to opening statements in some way.    9. Why Work with A2L: This free guide details how we think as litigation consultants and the value that litigation consultants provide generally. It's a useful tool to hand to in-house counsel to explain how jury, graphics, and technology consultants can contribute to winning a case.    8. Top 75 Articles of All Time: Our litigation consultants have compiled 75 expert articles on topics related to litigation support and litigation generally. This free book compiled the top 75 articles written in the first five years of our litigation and persuasion blog.    7. The Voir Dire Handbook: This one-of-a-kind and brand-new book will be helpful to junior and veteran courtroom practitioners alike. Because the composition of a jury can dramatically affect the outcome of the case, it is vitally important to get voir dire right and use whatever tools are available for doing so.    6. Using Litigation Graphics at Trial: In our most comprehensive e-book about litigation graphics and courtroom persuasion, A2L's jury and graphics consultants have compiled 74 expert articles in what is a first-of-its-kind book.    5. Tactics for Complex Civil Litigation: Whether you are a veteran trial lawyer or support trial teams, you will find this book valuable. This guidebook includes 74 articles about how to best to prepare and try a complex civil case for bench and jury trials.    4. How to Use Storytelling in Litigation E-Book: In our biggest e-book yet on courtroom storytelling, our litigation consultants have compiled 75 expert articles on topics related to litigation support and litigation generally.    3. How to Design and Use a Great Trial Timeline: This book is a must-have for anyone who prepares informative or persuasive timelines designed to influence and change what people think.    2. Using Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool at Trial Webinar: Whether you are in-house counsel, outside counsel, or litigation support, this 60-minute webinar plus 20-minute Q&A will improve your understanding and use of storytelling techniques during litigation. Led by seasoned litigator, Tony Klapper.   1. The Litigation Consulting Report Blog: Every month, 200 or more people subscribe to our blog. Six years into its existence, there are nearly 10,000 subscribers. You or a friend can subscribe free here, and you can control how often you hear about new articles (published 1x-3x/week) here.

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