<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1482979731924517&amp;ev=PixelInitialized">

Trial Lawyers and the Power of Silence

One of my professional mentors had a saying: Let silence do the heavy lifting.  This is good advice in many business and personal contexts. When you want to hear what another person really thinks, stop talking and wait for him to speak. Let him finish his statement, and don’t “rescue” him by interrupting him. Two thousand years ago, a rabbi in the Talmud said, “All my days have I grown up among the wise, and I have not found anything better for a man than silence.” This principle is still valid, and it applies well in the context of communications during trial between attorneys, juries and judges. I’ve noticed that many trial lawyers all too often believe they have too much to say in too little time and are obsessed with pressing a great deal of information into the hands of the fact-finder. But endless words are not always your friend if you want to be a successful persuader. Recently I observed an opening statement in which a trial lawyer applied these principles perfectly. Her client needed to make a point about the existence of ongoing communications between two parties over the course of a decade. This point was so important that it warranted special attention during the preparation of the opening statement. So we designed a litigation graphic that focused on these communications. We made sure that these timeline events rolled out slowly to the jury, slowly enough that the brief periods of silence between them caused some discomfort. This tactic noticeably changed the pace of the opening statement. It set a tone that forced the jurors to pay attention. And it wouldn’t have worked as well if the lawyer hadn’t presented her statement quietly and at a slow pace. As this masterful trial lawyer went on with her statement, the room audibly went silent and the jury paid attention. This was an emotional moment that focused the jurors’ minds on the fact of the regular ongoing communications – an essential part of the case for this lawyer’s client. This lawyer let silence do the heavy lifting. We have done this before, in other contexts. In an airline merger case, we scrolled a list of past airline bankruptcies before the jury in a way that was slower than usual – and noticeable. The message was that the airline industry had long been suffering through a dire financial situation and that the merger should be allowed to go through to reduce further bleeding. In all of these cases, the key element is that a skillful trial lawyer can plan her exhibits slowly and carefully and let silence speak loudly.   Other A2L free resources about litigation graphics, timelines, and connecting with judge and jury include: 3 minute video: Three top trial lawyers discuss persuasion using litigation graphics A Must-Have Complimentary 50-page Guidebook for Those Who Use Timelines to Inform or Persuade 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint Connecting With Jurors by Turning Off Your Screen 3 Excellent Ways to Use “Top-Bottom” Timelines in Trial 5 Trial Graphics That Work Every Time 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion How to Make PowerPoint Trial Timelines Feel More Like a Long Document 4 Types of Animation Used in the Courtroom Why a Graphically Immersive Trial Presentation Style Works Best Stop Using Bullet Points Why the former President is a Master PowerPointer The Redundancy Effect Search our site for just what you need 12 Ways to Eliminate "But I Need Everything On That PowerPoint Slide" 6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid Trial Timelines and the Psychology of Demonstrative Evidence Don't Be Just Another Timeline Trial Lawyer The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make

Read More

Share:

The Top 21 Litigation Articles of 2017

Every year going back to the start of this blog in 2011, I have paused to look back over the past 12 months of articles and see which were deemed best by our readers. Some articles have been read 90,000 times while others, often surprisingly, are only viewed a few dozen times. In this method of article ranking, every reader view is a vote. This year's top 21 list is consistent with recent years. Articles about storytelling and voir dire are the most read. The #1 ranked article, in particular, was very popular because it was not only about storytelling but features three top trial lawyers (all clients of A2L) talking on video about how they incorporate storytelling techniques into their advocacy. Enjoy these articles and please do encourage a friend to subscribe (for free) to this blog, The Litigation Consulting Report. Soon, we will have more than 10,000 subscribers. Each of these articles can be tweeted or shared on Linkedin using the buttons below the article. Click the titles to view the articles. 21. What Trial Lawyers Can Learn From Russian Facebook Ads 20. 5 Key Lessons You Can Learn From Mock Juries 19. How to Get Great Results From a Good Lawyer

Read More

Share:

It turns out that a large number of Russian ads on Facebook that viewers did not know were Russian ads influenced the way people thought about various issues last year. They may have even influenced the 2016 presidential election to some degree. Rather than delve deeply into the appropriateness of these ads (in my view, they were wholly inappropriate), who exactly directed their placement, and how exactly they affected behavior, let's instead look at these ads from a trial lawyer’s perspective.   After all, if pictures and a few short phrases can be used to change the voting behavior of the electorate, it stands to reason that pictures and some well-chosen phrases can be used to change the voting behavior of jurors. In the courtroom, there's no ethical debate about this process, since jurors know exactly where the message originates from -- the mouths of lawyers, experts, and witnesses. So if an attorney can use proven persuasion techniques and it's ethical to do so, the attorney must do so to zealously represent his or her clients. This is precisely why high-end persuasion firms like A2L exist. We're here to help persuade, using all appropriate and ethical means, both visual and rhetorical. We're not Russian hackers. Instead, we're hackers of human psychology, since we help top trial lawyers use proven techniques to maximize their persuasiveness. We do this by bringing together a remarkable combination of trial lawyers, social scientists, and artists to do what we do, a process we call litigation consulting. Let’s look at the Russian ads in this light. Because of some good investigative journalism and investigative work in Congress, many of the ads, Facebook groups, Facebook pages, and messages have been identified and published -- and most of them are really disturbing. The ads used some of the same time-honored techniques that trial lawyers use – but because their source was disguised and because they were intended to disrupt, not to persuade, they were dangerous. For example, many of the ads targeted topics where there is a deep division or poked at issues in a way designed to inflame. In almost every case, they used a favored technique of marketers, trial lawyers, and politicians alike -- FEAR. And that makes sense. Fear is a ten times greater motivator than hope of gain. That’s why marketers tell us that the one-time low pricing will end Sunday night, not how happy we will be on a new mattress. That’s why politicians tell us that immigrants should fear deportation if their opponent is elected, not that the melting pot is a good thing. And finally, of course, that’s how a specious argument that an everyday product causes cancer can overwhelm a defense based on good science. Fear wins, and good trial lawyers on both sides of the courtroom must use it. I wrote a lot about this topic in my five-part series about the Reptile Trial Strategy. It's no surprise that ads traced back to Russia focused on hot-button topics like Black Lives Matter, Muslims supporting Hillary Clinton, gun rights, LGBT rights, and more. Let's look at the techniques used in three Russia-linked ads: 1. Heart of Texas: This Facebook group that advocated for Texas secession quickly gained more than 250,000 members. The ad below uses a fake Facebook event as part of its messaging. What made a quarter of a million Texans unwittingly sign up for a Russian-backed Texas secessionist movement?  The ad works because it stokes existing biases while seemingly coming from a credible source. If we define bias broadly as any commonly held belief by a person that makes it harder for them to accept contrary evidence, you can see how this could work in the courtroom.  Obviously, we’re not talking about using racial, ethnic, or sexual preference biases as part of advocacy. Instead, I’m referring to those beliefs that many jurors show up to trial with -- like bankers are all motivated by greed, big energy companies don’t really care about the environment, or tech companies will ruthlessly steal from one another. Just as the Russians used biases in a deplorable manner, trial lawyers can play to other biases by encouraging jurors to accept and double down on their beliefs. As I wrote in a recent post, when you combine a credible source such as an expert witness with a message that jurors are ready to hear, you are likely to come out ahead. Consider how I embraced these biases and re-messaged these in a recent blog post about bias below. As you read each think about how you might couple each with persuasive visuals to maximize persuasion.  Bankers are greedy, so why would they ever do something that risked their money? (Possible visual storytelling aid to accompany: evidence of penny pinching at all levels of the organization summarized on a chart to demonstrate a culture of avarice) XYZ oil company has been more reckless with the environment than you or me, but given what they went through before, do you really think they are dumb enough to do it again? (Possible visual storytelling aid to accompany: list in a slowly scrolling chart the tangible consequences the organization faced as a result of the last disaster) Sure, tech companies will do anything to get ahead, but can you imagine anything more humiliating to someone as competitive as the CEO of ABC company as looking as if you’re not as smart as the other guy? Nothing is worth that when you are a competitive tech geek. (Possible visual storytelling aid to accompany: text callouts coupled with the CEO photo openly demeaning the intelligence of the opposition)

Read More

Share:

Courtroom Technology and Its Limitations

We write here frequently about the importance of using visual evidence in trials and indeed in all sorts of other legal forums. But technology is not the be-all and end-all of persuasion. It is a very useful tool, but the importance of technology does not lessen the need to tell a convincing story to a jury or another decisionmaker. In fact, if courtroom technology is not deployed correctly, presenting visuals to a judge or jury can detract from one’s message rather than enhance it. In other words, figuring out who will be victorious at trial is not simply a matter of determining who is using litigation graphics and who is not. Any trial is ultimately about how each side can use its graphics to support an effective story. Technology-based graphics, therefore, should not be used to make up for the trial skills a lawyer lacks, but rather to enhance the skills he or she already possesses. The type of technological visual is another variable to consider when presenting an argument. Some research has suggested that depending on the case, different types of technology-based graphics can have different persuasive effects on the jury. For example, researchers compared a computer simulation of an air crash, an audiotape with written transcript of a cockpit voice recorder, and a speaker reading the cockpit voice recorder, and asked people to decide whether they believed there was a pilot error based on the evidence to which they had been exposed. The researchers found that jurors who were shown the computer animation believed the flight crew to be significantly less negligent that the other jurors who did not. Animations are so powerful because they can take us to places human beings cannot go. But even without animations, simple PowerPoint slides can be quite effective in advancing your narrative if done right.

Read More

Share:

The other day, I noticed a New York Times obituary for Alan Peckolick, a graphic designer and illustrator known for his distinctive corporate logos and typeface designs. Peckolick championed “expressive typography.” He wrote a textbook called “Teaching Type to Talk.” He created General Motors’ “GM” logo, and letterforms for Mercedes-Benz, Pfizer and Revlon. In a 2015 interview, Peckolick explained that he conceived of “letterform as a piece of design. Cat is not ‘cat’ — it’s c-a-t. That’s what led to the beginning of the expressive topography.” Peckolick belonged to a pioneering generation of designers who reinvented typeface as a form of art. They believed that, just as words convey literal dictionary meaning, so do they express figurative value through typeface and letterform. In litigation graphics, imbuing words with depth of meaning and expression is mission-critical. Each letter counts. Each word must carry its own weight on the page. There simply is no space to waste. And in addition to practicing economy of language, we must elevate the appearance of words to convey essential meaning. As a design blogger wrote: Typography often provides that at-a-glance first impression that people gauge and judge the rest of the design by — so your font choices need to be purposeful and appropriate. Is your font saying “beach vacation” when it should be saying “job interview”? Do the elements of your font “outfit” clash, or do they complement each other? Are they effectively communicating the qualities you want to project? Ask yourself, does the chart you are devising use an easy-to-read, unobtrusive typeface? Does the timeline have enough white space to let a juror follow it with her eyes? Does the font say “major patent issue worth hundreds of millions” or does it say “routine commercial dispute”? By power-packing words with multi-layers of meaning, we communicate at the highest level, allowing words not simply to “speak” in unison with graphics, but to come alive and leap off the page at the reader. Other free A2L Consulting articles and resources related to graphic design, font usage, and persuasion tricks in litigation graphics include: Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points? Free Download: A Guide to Making Great Trial Timelines 5 Demonstrative Evidence Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial Watch Out for Subliminal Messages in Trial Graphics The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses Never Use Bullet Points - Here's Why Don't Use PowerPoint as a Crutch in Trial or Anywhere 6 Trial Presentation Errors Lawyers Can Easily Avoid 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much? 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 4 Free A2L Consulting Webinar: Persuasive Storytelling for Litigation The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations The Effective Use of PowerPoint Presentation During Opening Statement 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint 12 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Trial Graphics Consultant

Read More

Share:

It is unquestioned that technology has had a profound impact on our environment in the last couple of decades. Our brains are constantly adapting at a physical level to our environment, and research has suggested that technology has changed the way we perceive, remember, and process information. Not much has yet been said, however, about how technology has changed the ways in which jurors process information and the appropriate new styles that trial lawyers ought to use in presenting information to a jury. The growth of the internet, 24-hour television, and mobile phones means that we now receive five times as much information every day as we did 30 years ago. With the appropriate internet connection, technology allows us to access any information in less than a second. According to Internet Live Stats (2014), 88.5 percent of people in the United States are internet users. In addition, the internet has also changed the way we as a society process information. For example, when we read a book we do so linearly, from one sentence to another, but when using multimedia devices, we scan for keywords and grab small bits of relevant information. The internet has influenced people’s cognition in a way which they will now typically forego complex analytic thinking to get information quickly and easily. In other words, people allow the internet or even their smartphones to think for them. As a result, it is much harder to sustain attention, to think about one thing for an extended period, and to think deeply when new stimuli have been pouring in all day long. This is not to say that technology has negatively impacted our brain. Instead, the excess amount of information at our fingertips has changed the way we process large amounts of information and specifically, what information engages our attention.

Read More

Share:

Please Pretty Up These Litigation Graphics

Since litigation graphics are so crucial to winning a case, it’s a necessity to put your litigation graphic artist in a position where he or she is most likely to succeed. How should a litigation graphic artist begin his or her work? Here are some possibilities.  The artist can listen to the attorneys and experts describe what kind of demonstrative exhibits they want; The artist can take direction from an intermediary like a litigation consultant or jury consultant; The artist can work from the pleadings; The artist can improve upon a deck that's already been produced in draft form; The artist can work from a trial outline; The artist can listen to the attorneys and experts confer with a litigation consultant and ask questions of his or her own, then agree on a plan based on this conversation. After 22 years of doing litigation graphics consulting, I believe the last method is the one that produces the best results. You might ask why. After all, wouldn't it be faster if the artist is simply told what to do, and wouldn’t it be cheaper of the artist is asked to work from a trial outline?

Read More

Share:

Many of us find ourselves, from time to time, in the position of having to give advice to friends and acquaintances. In those circumstances, it’s simply human nature that the person who is seeking the advice is frequently more than a bit resistant to following it. So the person giving advice needs to figure out ways to overcome that resistance and to persuade the friend. I believe that the same principles that help us persuade our fellow human beings to follow our advice are also very helpful for trial lawyers who want to convince a jury of the rightness of their case. Here are some of them. To me, the essence of persuasion is trust. If that friend trusts you, she is much more likely to follow your advice. The same is true of a jury. Much of a trial team’s work can be seen as a concerted effort to build up trust with the jury. Trust has several components. Certainly, a key component is credibility. Do your background and experience indicate to the jury that you know what you’re talking about? Another component is comfort. Standing before the jury, do you appear comfortable and at ease with what you are advising the jurors? Yet another aspect is rapport. This is a matter of addressing the jury directly and being mindful and focused so as to develop a connection with the jurors. No distractions or multi-tasking can be appropriate. The jury is your only focus. Then of course there is empathy. This is very important in the context of advice-giving to friends, and even more so with a jury. If your client is, say, a large company accused of polluting a river, you need to empathize with the jurors’ possible bias against your client. You need to give them a narrative that will help them change their preconceptions. Then there is culture. That is hard to define, but it involves all of the life experiences that the jurors come to court with. You wouldn’t speak identically to a jury in a high-income New York suburb as you would to a jury in the West Texas plains or the Florida Keys. In addition to trust, a key element of persuasion is logical argument. You can have a great deal of credibility with a friend and share her cultural background, but if your advice doesn’t make sense, she won’t follow it. The same is true of a jury. Finally, one must not neglect the importance of time. Even your best friend wouldn’t want you to waste his time while giving advice in a drawn-out way, and juries too tend to tune out an argument that is too lengthy and complicated. As with the other components, a good deal of the art of persuasion amounts to common sense. Other free A2L articles related to persuasion techniques, connecting with jurors, and being likable in the courtroom include: Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important Like It or Not: Likability Counts for Credibility in the Courtroom Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points? Free A2L Consulting Webinar: Persuasive Storytelling for Litigation SPICE Is the Key to Persuasion Free A2L Consulting Webinar: Winning Your Case BEFORE Trial Using Persuasive Litigation Graphics — Watch OnDemand Now Free A2L Consulting Webinar: 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements — Watch Anytime How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You 5 Ways to Apply Active Teaching Methods for Better Persuasion 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations 5 Chart Tricks and Cheats to Watch Out For 7 Ways to Avoid Making Your PowerPoint Slides Your Handout 14 Tips for Delivering a Great Board Meeting Presentation Presentation Graphics: Why The President Is Better Than You 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) 8 Videos and 7 Articles About the Science of Persuasion Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? How to Be a Great Expert Witness (Part 3)

Read More

Share: