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The Litigation Consulting Report

NITA Experts Agree: Jurors Want Lawyers to Show, Not Tell

Posted by Tony Klapper on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 @ 04:43 PM

bored-jury-show-dont-tell-litigation-graphics.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We have written many times about the fact that scientific studies have shown that nonlawyers (who are the vast majority of jurors) tend to be visual learners, and tend not to be auditory learners or kinesthetic learners –people who learn by experiencing. Lawyers (who are the ones who present facts and tell stories to jurors) tend not to be visual learners and are often drawn from the ranks of auditory or kinesthetic learners.

Of course, this can present an intrinsic problem that we have discussed before. If most lawyers like to tell but not show, and our audience, the jury, prefers to be shown something and not to be told, we may completely fail to connect with our audience.

It’s not just psychologists and other students of human behavior who say so; it’s also people who devote full time to understanding trial advocacy. The National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) is a fantastic organization that represents the “gold standard” of trial advocacy. In addition to putting on outstanding CLE programs for newbie and experienced litigators, NITA also publishes many great books from scholars who have thought long and hard about advocacy.

In a famous NITA publication, Modern Trial Advocacy, author Steven Lubet connects the obvious aspects of our daily lives with what we should be doing in the courtroom. He writes: “We are used to receiving our visual information from a screen . . . Why would any trial lawyer not want to provide jurors with the same graphic quality and medium that they experience in most other aspects of their lives?” Flip charts are fine, but carefully crafted litigation graphics might be better.

Another example comes from an ABA-published book recommended by NITA speakers and written by Steven Easton called, How to Win Jury Trials: Building Credibility with Judges and Jurors. Easton says something that may be obvious but still needs to be stated clearly. He writes, “We live in a picture-based society that is dominated not by words, but by television sets, video cameras, movie screens, computers and photo albums.” His implicit message? Don’t just tell, SHOW! It’s even more true now that so many people get their news from Facebook and turn to Instagram every day for photos. 

Finally, there is this NITA-recommended example from a well-regarded trial advocacy scholar, Thomas Mauet, and his classic book, Trial Techniques: “Studies show that learning and retention are significantly better if information is communicated visually.” No question about it.

So we need go no further than NITA publications or those recommended by NITA, which for 40 years have helped countless lawyers understand how to try a case simply by doing it in simulated fashion. NITA and its writers and thinkers, top trial lawyers all, agree that showing rather than telling is the way to go.

Other A2L Consulting free articles and free learning resources about litigation graphics, jury psychology, trial advocacy, storytelling and demonstrative evidence include:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Psychology, Storytelling, Persuasion

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

The Importance of Litigation Graphics in Toxic Tort Litigation

Posted by Tony Klapper on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 01:23 PM

iStock-456090227.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

If anyone thought the era of toxic tort litigation was coming to an end, they were wrong. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its priority list of 10 chemicals, including asbestos, that it is considering banning under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Although it remains an open question how aggressive the Trump administration will be with safety regulations, the reality is that regulatory lists like this, and the inevitable studies that follow, often become a treasure trove of “support” for a plaintiffs’ bar eager to add scientific credibility to their legal claims.

This presents challenges for defense lawyers – especially given the continued currency of quasi-scientific principles or principles that are fine for regulators to rely on, but have no place in today’s courtroom, such as the “precautionary principle.” This is most evident with the mantra of “no safe dose” that asbestos lawyers and some environmental groups trumpet as justifying liability for even the most meager and infrequent of chemical exposures. Of course, toxicology, epidemiology and other scientific disciplines have exposed the fallacy of principles like “no safe dose” (after all, Paracelsus teaches us that “dose makes the poison – more about this later). But the appeal of the seemingly aphoristic “no safe dose” is tough to counter in court when an effective advocate plays to a jury’s fears and is buttressed by governmental pronouncements that, albeit for different reasons, embrace the notion that there is some theoretical, modeled risk from exposure to virtually any chemical.

So the task for the defense bar is how to convince juries to reject these and other fallacious concepts that serve as easy, digestible substitutes for the more complex elements of true causation.

This task requires more than just the hiring of well-credentialed risk assessors, toxicologists, epidemiologists and pathologists, and the deployment of powerful rhetoric. It also requires careful thought on the best way to persuade jurors visually that many of the concepts proposed by plaintiffs in toxic tort cases are indeed spurious. With some creativity, defense lawyers and graphic artists working with them can come up with ways to explain complex scientific concepts, such as exposure pathways and epidemiology, so that jurors can understand them.

A good example is the basic principle of toxicology that “the dose makes the poison.” This doctrine states that the amount of exposure to a substance is what defines the impact that that substance has on the human body. A moderate amount of water is a good thing. Actually consuming too much can kill you (hyperhydration). This concept should be relatively easy for lawyers and graphic artists to explain to juries without becoming overly technical and resorting to scientific mumbo-jumbo that will only confuse. 3-D and 2-D animations can be useful in this type of case, as can the simple bar chart or creative illustrations that analogize concepts like thresholds and total dose. Sometimes the simplest approach is the best.

Too often, when lawyers think about litigation graphics in toxic tort cases, they rely excessively on callouts of phrases in long-forgotten documents or hopelessly complicated charts presenting arcane data. If the message from the plaintiff’s lawyer is very simple – as in “this case is as easy as A, B, and C—Asbestos in Brakes cause Cancer” – the defense needs to respond with a similarly basic approach that will remain in jurors’ minds.

Other articles and free resources related to toxic torts, litigation graphics, teaching science, and environmental litigation from A2L Consulting include:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Science, Environmental Litigation, Toxic Tort, Persuasion

Announcing A2L’s New Storytelling Webinar

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 @ 01:08 PM

persuasive-storytelling-for-litigators-cta-time.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Tony Klapper joined the A2L team after a vibrant and successful career as a litigator at law firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Reed Smith. One of the reasons that he has meshed so well with the culture here at A2L is his penchant for storytelling, particularly as it applies to persuading in the courtroom.

In the past year, I've had the pleasure of watching Tony deliver private storytelling training sessions to litigators at many of the very top litigation law firms. And I have also had the distinct pleasure of watching him work with our customers, who are primarily large law firms engaged in litigation with hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars at stake.

Having been in this business and having seen a lot of people do this kind of work for three decades, I can say with confidence that Tony is absolutely superb at combining the development of a high-quality narrative with high-quality persuasive visuals.

So it's with great pleasure that I announce an upcoming free public webinar on storytelling for litigators on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm (EST) - NOTE: Recorded version will be available after the event if you register. Everyone is invited to attend. All you have to do is sign up, and that takes about 30 seconds. Here's the link to register.So whether you're considering how best to tell a story in the courtroom for an upcoming case or just want to hear the latest techniques and science that relate to persuasive storytelling, you will want to attend this free one-hour session.

In this session Tony will be sharing techniques that he has learned in his more than 20 years of litigation – and techniques that we use at A2L to help trial teams and their experts maximize their persuasive ability in the courtroom.

click here to Claim Free Webinar Seat Now

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Webinar, Litigation Support, Storytelling, Persuasion

5 Key Lessons You Can Learn From Mock Juries

Posted by Katie Bagwill on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 @ 01:32 PM

mock-jury-focus-group-mock-trial-jury-consultants.jpgby Katie Bagwill
A2L Consulting

Watching a mock jury deliberate is a lot like watching Dr. Phil; there is a lot of arguing, and most of the “facts” end up skewed. Nevertheless, a mock jury’s conclusions and how they reach them are essential to any lawyer who wants to understand the weaknesses of his or her case. Here are some of my takeaways from observing this fascinating exercise recently.

  1. Be clear. If a point or idea you want to instill in the jury isn’t clarified enough, you will see it warped and interpreted wildly during the deliberations. During each mock presentation that I saw, the amount of attention paid and the volume of notes taken varied, but one constant seemed to be apparent: jurors want to feel as if they have all the information. Even if they don’t, once they have a firm opinion, they will use any of the “facts” they have to defend it. Naturally you want these facts to be in your favor, but for the sake of this exercise it is actually more beneficial to you for the stacks to be weighted against you. In order to improve, you need to know how you could lose.
  1. Be passionate but humble. It is important for the jury to feel empathetic toward your client, and for that to happen they need to connect with you. While presenting your case, you want to appear confident and informed without coming off as arrogant. Persuasion is all about presentation. One of the most important notes that our mock jurors made about one of our presenters was that he seemed “smug,” which made him seem sneaky, and it spiraled from there.
  1. Honesty is the best policy for your mock juries – by far. An important factor for an experiment, the mock trial, to be generalizable to the greater population, the entire jury pool, is that participants be honest in their answers. In our exercise, we had remote devices that each participant used to answer our questions, and we received feedback in real time. To set the stage of how they should answer the questions, a test question was asked, “Have you ever driven over the speed limit?” The expected answer would be “yes” across the board, assuming that all participants drive. However, in our group we had one “no” and one “not applicable.” The former had been unsure of “how serious it was” and apologized for not answering completely honestly, while the latter seemed to just be completely in denial. The idea that, “it doesn’t count because everyone else was doing it, but I was the only one caught,” is a dangerous mindset in a child and even scarier in an adult. With this experience in mind, you should remember not to put too much weight on any individual’s answer to one question, but rather look at the patterns of decision-making in the group.
  1. Ignorance is not bliss. The people who paid the least amount of attention during the presentations seemed to be the biggest talkers in the deliberation room. This would confirm the idea of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which less competent people believe they are more competent, and more competent people doubt themselves. This is a scary idea in theory, and even scarier in practice. Imagine you are being tried by a jury full of people who don’t really understand any of the facts of the case, but their “instincts” tell them you’re guilty. Unfortunately, these people don’t wear a sign around their necks professing their ignorance, and you’re just going to have to gather as much other information about their decision-making during voir dire as you can. In the exercise I observed, it was sad to see that there were a handful of participants whose bloated confidence in their opinions kept all opposing mock jurors silent for fear of being yelled into submission.
  1. Be prepared in advance. Once you’re selecting your jury or presenting your case in court, it is too late to start thinking about how you will keep the jury on your side. Using a mock jury will separate the “good” evidence in your presentation from the “bad” while you still have time to reshape your narrative.
      

Other A2L Consulting articles about mock juries, mock trials and jury consulting:

Jury Consulting Mock Trial

Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Psychology, Persuasion

How to Be a Great Expert Witness (Part 2)

Posted by Tony Klapper on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 @ 10:57 AM

expert-witness-visual-persuasion.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

In my last post, I talked about the fact that an expert witness needs to express her expertise in a convincing way – but also in a way that the typical juror can understand and not in the language of a specialist.

The next step in becoming a truly effective expert witness is to understand the power and the importance of visual learning.

It’s a safe bet that your peer-reviewed articles contain tens of thousands of words. Your academic poster contains hundreds, maybe thousands, of words. Your PowerPoint presentations delivered to your peers contain bullet point after bullet point of words (and maybe a smattering of cartoons).  

Ask yourself: How many television commercials convey the importance of the advertised product through words? How many magazine advertisements do the same through words? How many movies convey their story through words? How many architects explain their designs through words? How many patents have no pictures and just words? And how many biology textbooks have no illustrations and just words? In all these instances, the visual is what matters.

Studies have shown that two-thirds of jurors learn primarily through visual means. And the need for visuals becomes even greater when the information being conveyed is highly complex. That does not mean that you should simply rely on Excel charts, images of equations, and chemical formulas to convey your points. It means that you should consider incorporating litigation graphics as demonstrative evidence for your opinion testimony.

Explaining with 2D animation in PowerPoint how the mucociliary escalator removes inhaled particles from the body is far more effective than just talking about it. Describing through an interactive timeline the complex series of steps that were employed to design and build a consumer product is far more effective than just talking about it. And demonstrating through high-quality photographs and well-placed arrows that the key component of your client’s widget looks nothing like the component claimed in the allegedly infringed patent is far more effective than just talking about it.

When working with counsel to prepare your direct examination, you should demand that time be spent not just on what you are going to say but also on how to present it visually. If possible, find opportunities to leave the witness stand and demonstrate your point with physical evidence, or draw a picture on the flip chart. The more you are the teacher and not the talking head, the more likely the jury will connect with you and find you credible.

In our next post, we will discuss the proper state of mind for the testifying expert.

Other articles from A2L Consulting discussing the importance of visual learning, PowerPoint, and expert witness testimony:

expert witness trial testimony ebook a2l ims

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Advocacy Graphics, Expert Witness, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Judges, 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

Storytelling at Trial Works - But Whom Should the Story Be About?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Nov 21, 2016 @ 11:20 AM

storytelling-for-lawyers-trial-courtroom-a2l.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

I go to a marketing conference in Boston every year, and every year I see a handful of outstanding presentations about storytelling. One stood out for me this year that will have immediate applicability for our field.

The presenter, Amina Moreau, is a filmmaker and co-founder of Stillmotion. Her session, Scientific Secrets of Superpowerful Storytellers: Techniques to Spur Action, covered some topics that are particularly useful for trial lawyers looking to persuade audiences.

We are constantly discussing storytelling among ourselves at A2L and with our litigation-focused client base. We've published books about storytelling, conducted webinars about storytelling (a new one is going to be announced soon), and routinely conduct storytelling CLEs at top law litigation departments. Our articles about storytelling at trial are read and shared regularly. See Dan Pink, Pixar, and Storytelling for the Courtroom5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion, and Storytelling at Trial Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive.

Using neuroscience as a foundation, Ms. Moreau raised a question that we frequently wrestle with: Whom should we tell stories about to generate the most powerful call for action and to be as persuasive as possible? Should the story be about a team, should it be about the CEO, should it be about the victim's wife, should it be about the inventor? How do we make the story most meaningful to our audience?

After all, if the story is not meaningful, we can't connect with the audience, and if we can't connect, we can't persuade using emotions and the framework that a well-told story provides.

To illustrate her point, Ms. Moreau used an interesting example. She compared “baby Jessica” -- the child who fell in the well in 1987 and was rescued -- with 60 million undernourished and undereducated girls in Africa. She pointed out how baby Jessica generated massive donations for her college fund in just hours and how organizations around the world struggle to raise fractions of the dollars raised for baby Jessica for needy girls in Africa. This is an illustration of the identifiable victim effect, in which it is far easier for people to sympathize and to act for a specific, identifiable person rather than for vague groups of individuals.

It makes sense of course. There's a compelling narrative around baby Jessica that fits all the classic storytelling elements, whereas making a rational argument about needy children in Africa is too often emotionless talk that does not impel action.

Ms. Moreau offered several useful tips for deciding about whom a story should be told. In general, a story about an individual will outperform a story about a group. So when trying to find the right individual to use to tell a story, she says there are three crucial criteria to use. The same criteria can and should be used in selecting a person to focus on in a trial.

  1. Desire. People identify with a character who reaches a goal or conquers an obstacle. Passion to achieve the goal is what they start with, but it’s not enough. 
  1. Complexity. Complexity is what makes us believe in the character. Complexity is what sustains the connection between the viewer and the main character of your story. It's what keeps the viewer rooting for them to reach their desire.

  2. Uniqueness. People are attracted to characters who have a novel approach to tackling the challenges that the world presents.

Keep these three criteria in mind, and you will understand how to choose the character who is at the heart of your story.

Other storytelling at trial free resources, articles, books, and downloads from A2L Consulting:

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

Tags: Juries, Psychology, Storytelling, Judges, Persuasion

[New and Free E-Book] Expert Witnesses - Direct and Cross Examination

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 @ 11:48 AM

A2L-IMS-EXPERT-WITNESS-TESTIMONY-TALL.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We at A2L are launching a new e-book this month. This time, we are publishing the book jointly with IMS ExpertServices, one of the nation’s premier providers of experts and consultants for top law firms and Fortune 500 corporations.

The title of the new book is Expert Trial Testimony: Direct and Cross-Examination. The book answers every question you might have thought of in connection with expert testimony at trial in U.S. courts, and it does so in a clear, conversational manner. Plus, it’s a free download.

As more and more money is at stake in civil trials, and as the subject matter grows more and more complex and difficult for many jurors to understand without assistance, the value and importance of expert witnesses has grown dramatically.

The difference between an effective, well-prepared, convincing expert witness and one who does not come across well to a jury can often be the difference between winning and losing a trial where hundreds of millions, or billions, of dollars are at stake.

The book is directed at experts themselves and gives dozens of do’s and don’ts that will make any expert’s testimony effective and convincing at a trial. It’s not only experts who will benefit from reading this book but also trial attorneys, trial technicians, in-house counsel, and anyone who wants to understand the best ways to put on expert testimony.

The book addresses the typical expert witness as follows:

You have read hundreds, if not thousands, of articles in your field. You likely have an advanced degree that touches on the area about which you have been asked to testify. You may have taught classes on the relevant subject matter at a university. You may have presented your thoughts and research at conferences attended by your peers. You are smart. You are well-credentialed. But are you prepared to testify in a court of law? Do you know what you have to do to be just as effective on the witness stand as you are at the podium?

Among the key topics in the book are:

  • How an expert can explain complex scientific topics in language that a juror can understand without “dumbing down” her testimony
  • Why pictures, schematics and visuals of all sorts are as important to an expert witness’s testimony as the words he uses
  • How an expert should prepare for the toughest questions on cross-examination, including questions that the expert might view as unfair
  • How to deal with a “yes or no” question and avoid the pitfalls that such a question usually brings with it
  • How an expert should use body language to help, not detract from, the quality of her testimony

We think this book will be invaluable to expert witnesses, lawyers, trial techs, in-house counsel, and others. Please download it here.

 

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Juries, Jury Consultants, Expert Witness, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Judges, Cross Examination, Persuasion, ebook

One Possible Pitfall in Telling a Story at Trial

Posted by Tony Klapper on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 02:56 PM

bad storytelling jury pandering talking downby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We have always emphasized how important it is for a trial lawyer to organize his or her case so as to tell a consistent and convincing story to the jury or judge. In making that recommendation, we draw on experience and common sense, as well as on science that indicates that human beings are wired to follow intriguing stories and to look forward to their ultimate resolution.

“Storytelling is essential to winning trials – and that goes for mediations, arbitrations, and hearings, literally anywhere you must connect with an audience,” we have written. “Whether it’s your story or not, a story will inevitably emerge during a trial. Mock trials and focus groups have repeatedly shown that when a jury has two camps representing the two sides of the case, each camp will have a fairly consistent story that it endorses and clings to. Consistently, we find that those stories are short, that they fit with common sense, that they borrow some of the salient facts from the trial, and that they are complete tales, with a beginning, a middle and an end – including what happened and what should have happened.”

A story removes a case from the realm of the strictly legal and makes it personal. It humanizes one’s client and helps a jury identify with the client. But can storytelling go too far as a technique of persuasion?

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to meet with several lawyers at an outstanding law firm that is known for its trial expertise. One of the partners raised an interesting issue with me: Can the process of storytelling at trial cross the line into pandering, a contrived appeal to a jury’s emotions that ultimately causes the lawyer to lose credibility? In discussing ways that a story can be told effectively, I had given the example of a case on which we had worked with a client with a remarkable personal story; the client, who was Jewish, had barely escaped Nazi Germany and had built a successful business. This bit of history was not directly relevant to the claims in the case. Did we go too far in focusing on it?

That’s a very valuable question, and there’s no clear answer. It’s a matter of human emotion, so the answer is that it depends. I recommend that when there’s any question of perceived pandering or manipulation, you should “pressure test” the story in advance with some thoughtful people. They could be members of a mock jury, or simply one’s spouse, friend or co-worker. How does the story sound? Does it make the complex legal dispute come to life, or does it talk down to the jury in a way that will turn the jury off or even cause them to resent the client or even me the lawyer?

You as a trial lawyer may fall in love with a story, but that’s not the last word. A jury may see it as manipulative even if that’s the furthest thing from your mind. So test your stories in advance. Your credibility may depend on it.

Other A2L Consulting articles and resources related to storytelling in the courtroom, what makes a great story, and persuading a judge or jury include:

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

Tags: Trial Consultants, Jury Consulting, Mock Trial, Trial Consulting, Jury Consultants, Storytelling, Persuasion

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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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