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The Litigation Consulting Report

12 Reasons Using Trial Consultants (Like Us) Is Possibly Not Fair

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

unfair-advantage-trial-consultants-jury-graphics-technology.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

When I speak to an audience about the work A2L does (other than trial lawyers from large law firms), I sometimes hear the question, “Is the kind of work A2L does fair?” That is, is it fair to have trial consultants support a trial team and use the latest in persuasion science to advocate only one side of a case? In a group setting, my lawyerly answer is usually something like, “What does ‘fair’ mean to you?” Then we litigate the nuances of fairness.

What I really think, however, is that the work we do definitely tips the scales of justice in our client’s favor. Is that fair? Probably. After all, ferociously advocating one’s position using all available tools is one of the hallmarks of our justice system. But what if, as is typical, one side has a larger litigation budget than the other. Is it fair to have a firm like ours on one side and not the other?

I've heard others reply to this question by comparing the vast differences in trial lawyer quality and arguing that the system is designed to smooth these talent gaps out. I don't have a specific answer right now, so I I'll simply say that I think it's a fair question. Trial consultants do influence outcomes of cases, sometimes to an enormous degree.

Indeed, a branding firm, after surveying our customers and staff, once recommended that we use “Unfair Advantage” as our firm motto. I never really fell in love with the motto, and we didn’t end up really using it, but I understand the sentiment completely.

In more than 20 years and thousands of cases, I’ve never seen one that was not improved by the input of a trial consultant. I've seen losing cases turned to winners and damages swing in the billions of dollars. Consider 12 advantages that trial consultants offer – ones that your opposition might say are just not fair.

  1. A Fresh Pair of Eyes: Trial lawyers who like to get their answers questioned outperform those who are not open to much input. Trial consultants offer a safe place to bounce theories, narratives, demonstratives, voir dire strategies, trial presentation strategies and more off smart people who are on your side. See 7 Reasons a Fresh Pair of Eyes Are Beneficial Before Trial.
  1. An Experienced Pair of Eyes: If you've been in the litigation industry for decades like me, you've watched as trial lawyers who used to go to trial every year now go to trial only every three, five or even eight years. Meanwhile, trial consultants have moved in the opposite direction and often see dozens of trials per year. So high-performing clients and high-performing trial lawyers very sensibly rely on trial consultants to enhance the trial experience of the team. See With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?
  1. Practice: One of my former colleagues turned judge was so right about this: “They call it the practice of law but nobody is practicing.” Trial consultants help trial teams practice effectively. This is critical because so few trial teams are really practicing. Those who don't practice in front of peers underperform others. Those who do, outperform most trial lawyers. It's so obviously correlated with good outcomes, I believe that the quality of practice is a reasonable proxy for the outcome of a case. See 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation.
  1. Even Michael Jordan Had a Coach: Name an athlete or anyone at the top of their game and you'll likely find a coach who helped them improve. That's what high-quality trial consultants do. They help bring out the very best in a trial lawyer. See Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators.
  1. Getting the Right Jury: Most jury research we engage in has a voir dire component. Conducting a mock trial with a voir dire component massively influences how juries are picked, and the makeup of a jury massively influences the outcome of a case. We've even released an entire book on this topic. See New and Free E-Book: The Voir Dire Handbook.
  1. Persuasion Science with Visuals: Understanding how visuals persuade people is a surprisingly new science, and many new discoveries are being made. Trial consultants bring a level of understanding regarding visuals that is not present in a law firm. There are visual persuasion tactics that knowledgeable trial consultants can use to influence juries. See Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? and 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations.
  1. Persuasion Science with Rhetoric: Similarly, there are rhetorical techniques such as the use of repetition and surprise that are now known to persuade juries. Just the way you start your opening will influence what a jury thinks. It's not malpractice to not know these things, but it is certainly not a good practice. See A Surprising New Reason to Repeat Yourself at Trial.
  1. Persuasion Science with Storytelling: We so often write about how storytelling can be used to persuade. We even recently interviewed some top trial lawyers and asked them how they use storytelling. Rely on a talented trial consultant and they will make you a better storyteller. See Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important.
  1. Trial Consultants Save You Time: You can delegate certain persuasion-related tasks to a trial consultant that allow you to focus on other elements of the case. This gives you a real advantage over opposing counsel who cannot do thisSee Trial Consultants: Unfair Advantage?
  1. No Lost Opportunity Costs: My mentor likes to advise me in my CEO capacity by saying, “Only do what only you can do.” This advice works well for a trial team too. If you're editing PowerPoint slides, you're disobeying this good advice. See How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?
  1. More Poise = More Persuasion: The way you carry yourself influences your persuasiveness. Watch this video from Amy Cuddy and read my article about her new book. Trial consultants help give you real confidence by supporting you as a trial lawyer and they can also advise how to do this in those situations where you just need to fake it. See A Harvard Psychologist Writes About Presenting to Win.
  1. Using Trial Technology Well: Many lawyers think they can use technology effectively, but not many really have this skill. A good trial consultant will understand courtroom technology and will help you get a leg up on the other side. See 12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout.

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Psychology, Storytelling, Practice, Body Language

Using Litigation Graphics in Bench Trials: How Different Is It From Jury Trials?

Posted by Tony Klapper on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 @ 10:25 AM

judge-litigation-graphics-bench-trial.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

We’ve spoken here more than once about the fact that jurors, unlike most attorneys, tend to be visual learners who like to be shown, not told. The best way to show them what they need to know, as we have said, is through litigation graphics. Science has also taught us that the best way to keep a jury’s attention is by telling a story in the courtroom. These insights obviously have major implications for how trial lawyers should use the arts of persuasion in a jury trial.

What about a bench trial or an arbitration? Here, the decisionmaker is trained as an attorney. Do we toss out all that we know about jury trials and proceed in an entirely different manner?

Not at all. First, narratives are just as important in a trial before a judge as they are in a jury trial. Judges are human beings, and like all human beings, they have minds that search constantly for an organizing principle, a way to tame the vast river of information that flows to them in a trial. A narrative is the best way for them to do that. Even a brilliant judge who happens to be an aural learner, not a visual learner, needs some way to organize data. That’s where your narrative comes in. (“First this happened, then this happened, then something else happened.”) Not only does story-telling make the trial lawyer’s job’s easier by making his or her case easy to understand; it also makes the case easier to remember.

After all, judges are not computers. They come to any case with their human values, perspectives and predispositions. A narrative will help them connect the case with these values and will help them build a story in their mind, based on those values and on the information they receive at the trial.

The same is true with litigation graphics. Even someone who learns predominantly through aural or kinesthetic means can still find a chart or a timeline interesting and helpful as a way of organizing information. For example, in Markman hearings, which occur exclusively before judges, patent lawyers almost invariably present diagrams of the patent figure or blow-ups of the patent language. In hearings like these and in bench trials, a trial lawyer may sometimes need fewer litigation graphics, but that doesn’t mean that the lawyer shouldn’t use any at all.

Just as top trial firms often use mock juries to test their case on before the actual trial, they can use “mock judges” in the case of a bench trial. If their budget permits, they could find a retired judge, possibly someone who knows the judge in the case, and present their evidence before him or her.

They can ask the judge what types of evidence and themes were most convincing, and which demonstratives did or did not work. It’s another good practice in presenting a case to a judge who is the decisionmaker.

Other articles about litigation graphics in bench trials, mock bench trials, and mock testing from A2L Consulting:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Markman Hearings, Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Storytelling, Judges

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

Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 @ 09:53 AM

storytelling-trial-lawyers-interviewsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We recently had the opportunity to interview three top trial lawyers. We asked them for their views about the practice of law and about what really works at trial.

Collectively, more than 100 years of wisdom are speaking in these interviews. I couldn't agree more with these trial lawyers’ positions, and over the coming weeks, we will share some of these interviews, edited for clear and quick messages and understanding.

These three lawyers, Patrick Coyne, Rob Cary, and Bobby Burchfield, are at the top of their field. Let's hear what they have to say about storytelling at trial.

Finnegan partner Patrick Coyne, an intellectual property litigator, said: “I think a lot of lawyers approach IP cases with the idea that all I have to do is convince them that I’m right. Wrong. People make their decisions based on their values and beliefs. What the story does is give the jurors a narrative that you can tie in to their values and beliefs, and they can then fill in the gaps themselves. It makes sense to them based on their perspective.”

Rob Cary, a litigation partner at Williams & Connolly, said, “Being a litigator is about storytelling, making a narrative that makes sense and that is credible and reasonable. So much of what is taught in law school is so complicated and so nuanced that it inhibits good storytelling. So I think all lawyers when they get out there, and especially if they practice before jurors, need to be good storytellers. It is crucial to stick to the truth, and of course you need to be able to show as well as to tell.”

Said Bobby Burchfield, a litigation partner at King & Spalding, “I think of a trial in terms of putting together a comprehensible and comprehensive story in terms of what I can get people to remember and what I can get people to believe. That’s when you really mature as a lawyer, when you understand it really that is the narrative that decides the case and not whether you think you’re right.”

As is clear from the interviews with these top trial lawyers, building a narrative is essential to the consulting work that A2L does, because developing a persuasive narrative is essential in the modern trial. All too often it's overlooked or only considered at the eleventh hour.

We've written about storytelling extensively in articles like 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and PersuasionStorytelling Proven to be Scientifically More Persuasive, $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation, and Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 3 - Storytelling for Lawyers. And we've even created a compendium-style book of articles related to storytelling - it's a free download.

Finally, if you happen to miss last week’s A2L Consulting storytelling webinar delivered by A2L's Managing Director of Litigation Consulting, Tony Klapper, and attended by nearly 500 of your peers, you can now watch a recorded version here.

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Consulting, Juries, Psychology, Storytelling

7 Habits of Great Trial Teams

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

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

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

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

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

Are these statements true of your trial team?

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

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

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

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

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

5 Ways Change Can Be Good for Trial Lawyers

Posted by Tony Klapper on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 @ 12:31 PM

superlawyer-trial-lawyer-litigator-change-narrative-storytelling.jpg
by Tony Klapper

Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Everyone, regardless of political persuasion, can agree that a significant portion of the U.S. electorate voted for change in this week’s presidential election. And the way the whole 18-month campaign went certainly represented a change from the way most campaigns have gone in our history.

But while we as a country – at least every four or eight years – seem to like change, lawyers not so much. Maybe that reflects what we learned in law school. Law is governed by precedent, and if there are changes to precedent, they are incremental at best. Or, maybe it reflects the role we assume as advisers and the tendency for many in our profession to be cautious and risk-averse.

Regardless of your attitude toward changes in the law, in your political leaders, or in what your clients do, we believe that in the arena of trial advocacy change is very often a good thing. Here are five examples.

  1. Literally, change the font you are using for exhibits and displays. Mix it up occasionally. Pick a less common font, but not one that calls too much attention to itself. Jurors will notice the unusual font, although they may not know just what they’re noticing, and they will stay awake and attentive. See, Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? 
  1. Change your narrative. Don’t be wedded to telling your story a certain way, but be open to other people’s thoughts and perspectives. Aunt Sally’s apple pie wasn’t perfect the first time; it took years to fine tune that recipe. It could take many run-throughs to get an opening statement just right. See, 10 Types of Value Added by Litigation Graphics Consultants
  1. Change the perspective. Within a trial, tell the story from more than one viewpoint. If your opening statement is told from the perspective of your client, you might want to mix things up so that your closing argument features the thoughts of a particularly convincing witness. The opening and the closing don’t have to match. They can be different, based on a preconceived plan. This will also keep the jurors awake and interested, and it will provide depth to your narrative. See, Are You Smarter Than a Soap Opera Writer?
  1. Change your approach to working with your team. Ask yourself if there have been miscommunications or tensions. To get the most out of everyone on the team (lawyers, paralegals, vendors, and so on) think about the best way to motivate them. Be prepared to adjust. See, 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams
  1. Change yourself. Billy Joel said, “Don’t go changing to try and please me,” it’s true – but lawyers are in the business of trying to please jurors and others. Don’t resist the process of making yourself a more effective lawyer. Most lawyers who do trial advocacy think they are already at the top of their profession – and many are. But even the best can learn and grow. See, Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Litigation Management, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Leadership

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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.


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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.


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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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