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The Litigation Consulting Report

Top 10 Litigation Articles So Far This Year

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 @ 10:17 AM

top-litigation-blog-articles.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

As the first quarter of 2017 comes to an end, I have had the occasion to reflect on the origins and the success of the online publication that you are reading, The Litigation Consulting Report. In six years, I've watched as this publication grew from nothing at all to a subscription list that includes more than 9,000 members of the legal community (here's a free subscription link: http://a2.lc/trialtips). I am pleased and amazed to see that there are more than 300,000 visits to this blog annually.

Periodically, we try to help organize the articles we publish by highlighting those "voted" best by your readership. By “voted,” I mean the articles that readers choose by reading them the most often. Readers “vote” with their computers, tablets and phones. Some articles are read thousands of times per day, and I find that remarkable.

I want to highlight the top 10 articles from this quarter, in order, with the one marked as #1 being the most read article published this quarter. Interestingly, while the subjects of these articles range across various areas of our litigation consulting practice, those focused on storytelling in litigation are consistently at the top of our quarterly lists. Although we are not the only people who talk about storytelling as a fundamental element of persuasion at trial, we have been doing so for a long time, and we have marshaled scientific evidence in support of our conclusions.

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

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9. Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points?

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8. How to Get Great Results From a Good Lawyer

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7. The Key Elements of a Good Narrative at Trial or Anywhere Else

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6. 2017 Will be a Great Year for (Most Types of) Trials

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5. 3 Excellent Ways to Use Top-Bottom Timelines in Trial

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

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3. The Value of Storytelling: A Current Case in Point

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2. 7 Habits of Great Trial Teams

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1. Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important

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Click here to Download the Free Complex Civil Litigation Trial Guide

Tags: Litigation Graphics, Mock Trial, Demonstrative Evidence, Articles, Storytelling, Awards, Persuasion

The Key Elements of a Good Narrative – at Trial or Anywhere Else

Posted by Tony Klapper on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 @ 01:08 PM

narrative-storytelling-litigators-trial-lawyers.jpgby Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting

Here in these pages, we often talk about storytelling as a fundamental principle of successful trial work. But what are the elements of a good story?

A good story is one that will be retold – it’s one that begs to be retold. Just as our ancestors told and retold the fundamental stories of their nations by the fireside, a great story is one that people today will repeat at the watercooler, in the bar, in the line at the grocery, or anywhere that there’s time for a narrative. A compelling movie (think of the Pixar films or a Steven Spielberg production) or a great epic (as far back as the Iliad or the Odyssey) or even an account of business success (think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Thomas Edison) will have the essential elements of a story. And as trial lawyers, we want jurors to pick up the story that we tell, and retell it in the jury room during deliberations.

Each of these great stories has a few things in common: a distinct source of conflict or tension, compelling character development, and a message that is conveyed, either directly or subtly, that conforms with the values of the people who are hearing the story.

A legal dispute in the courtroom also takes advantage of those essential narrative elements – if the trial lawyer is aware of them and uses them appropriately. A trial lawyer can and should tell the story of the case through the perspective of a real human being – a quality control supervisor at a factory, an inventor who was cheated out of the fruits of his creativity, or a woman who applied on her late husband’s life insurance policy and was denied. A company as well could be portrayed as having a particular orientation or purpose: Our company has persevered for a century because it treats people fairly, or our company is an innovator that is dedicated to making people’s lives better and more enjoyable.

The story told at trial, through witnesses, documents, visuals and all the other elements, should have a plot with conflict and tension; should have distinct characters; and should also have a message that’s easy to remember and is consistent with the community’s values. The message could be that cheaters never win, or that honesty and hard work are rewarded, or that a deal is a deal and must be adhered to.

If you don’t frame the facts of the case into a story that is easy for jurors to create in their minds, easy to remember and easy to retell, your opponent will. And that’s at least half the battle right there. If jurors go into deliberations telling the story your way, your chances of winning are quite good. It’s all about the narrative. 

Other articles about storytelling at trial, building a narrative, and persuading your audience from A2L Consulting:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Juries, Storytelling, Persuasion

Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points?

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 @ 09:51 AM

bullet-points-persuasion-courtroom-trial.jpg

by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

We recently asked three top trial lawyers about what makes them so successful in the courtroom. They are quite a successful trio. One of them is Bobby Burchfield of King & Spalding, whose bio notes, “Mr. Burchfield has never lost a jury trial.” That's an especially impressive track record as he's been in practice more than 30 years.

So what does winning take? Well, as we saw in previous clips from the same interviews, these trial lawyers believe, as we do, that storytelling is at the heart of building a successful case. Furthermore, as all demonstrative evidence consultants and most trial lawyers will tell you, combining persuasive visual evidence with persuasive oral communications produces a truly synergistic persuasive effect. Persuasion is a rare circumstance where 1+1 really does equal more than 2.

Of course, as we have long counseled, just because something is projected on a screen does not make it helpful at a trial. In many cases, as in the case of lawyers who use bullet points to summarize their arguments on screen, some visuals actually make you less persuasive. If yours looks like the image here, then you are certainly doing more damage than good.

For more on why that's true, please see our articles 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere), The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make, and Why Reading Your Litigation PowerPoint Slides Hurts Jurors.

In this three-minute clip, we hear from the best of the best -- Bobby Burchfield of King & Spalding, Rob Cary of Williams & Connolly, and Patrick Coyne of Finnegan. And we certainly don't hear them talking about the power of bullet pointed lists.

Instead, you hear these trial-tested litigation experts talking about the use of animation, the value of timelines, and the importance of showing real evidence to ground your argument in credibility.

Burchfield said, “People learn both by seeing and by hearing, and if you can combine those two in one presentation, the more sensory perceptions you combine, the better off you are. Timelines are powerful persuasive tools. A timeline shows from left to right who did what and to whom. Sometimes you show in a timeline above the line what your client knew and below the line what your client didn’t know. It can be a powerful story to show contrasting events that were going on simultaneously. This helps the jury put the entire case into context.”

Cary noted, “When a jury can see something that visually displays the evidence, that cloaks you in credibility. That’s critical in earning their trust.”

Coyne pointed out, “People are predominantly visual. Most people need an image. They need it to tie things together. Ken [Lopez] and his people did a fantastic animation for us. The judge turned to the other side and said, ‘If I credit this animation, you lose. Do you know that?’ It was a very compelling animation. That’s what I mean by appealing to the judge by giving him a visual that explains what you’re trying to say.”

Watching lawyers like these work is a pleasure and their teams score high on our assessment of what makes a great trial team.

Other articles related to persuasion in trial, the use of bullet points, and trial presentation best practices from A2L Consulting:

persuasive storytelling for litigators trial webinar free

Tags: Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Demonstrative Evidence, Animation, Storytelling, Bullet Points, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, Timelines, Persuasion

The Value of Storytelling: A Current Case in Point

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Mar 1, 2017 @ 01:21 PM

storytelling-success-trial-litigators-lawyer.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

An article last month in The Recorder, a publication of American Lawyer Media, makes clearly and concisely one of the points that we frequently try to make here on this blog.

The article explains what happened in a wrongful-termination trial in federal court in San Francisco, which ended on February 6 with a $10.8 million verdict, plus $5 million in punitive damages, against Bio-Rad Laboratories and in favor of the company’s former general counsel, Sanford “Sandy” Wadler.

It quotes James Wagstaffe, the lead lawyer for Wadler and a partner at the small San Francisco firm of Kerr & Wagstaffe, as saying that the key to winning a jury trial is storytelling.

In the article, Wagstaffe is quoted as saying, “The need to tell and hear stories is primal. Trial lawyering is part of that primal need. The jury wants to hear a story.”

Wagstaffe’s story was that his client, Wadler, was a classic whistleblower who was fired for trying to expose corruption in the company’s foreign offices. The opposing counsel, John Potter of the prestigious firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, presented his own story – that Wadler was unqualified for the job and that he made up the allegations of possible bribery and corruption in order to save himself from being fired. According to this story, Wadler was no whistleblower at all.

With the help of a 21st-century approach to evidence, Wagstaffe prevailed in the case. As he told The Recorder, his legal team had a hunch that a positive evaluation of Wadler from the company’s files was not created when it appeared to have been created. The lawyers used the very new science of metadata – information that can determine a document's file type, its creation date and who accessed it – to determine that the document was actually created after Wadler was fired. The jury seems to have found that contention persuasive, among other things, and returned a verdict for Wadler within less than three hours.

But apart from the CSI-style use of computer evidence, this is a real-life instance in which an experienced trial lawyer explained his success as the result of successful storytelling. That is what we at A2L do with our clients. We help lawyers build and tell stories that are, quite simply, more convincing and more true to life than the other side’s stories.

Other articles and resources related to using storytelling as a persuasion tool in litigation from A2L Consulting include:

Tags: Storytelling

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

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Download the (Free) Storytelling for Litigators E-Book

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Considering Using a Trial Technician at Your Next Trial? Download this first.

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Featured Free Download: Using Science to Prevail in Your Next Case or Controversy

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Featured FREE A2L E-Book: Using Litigation Graphics Persuasively

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Free Jury Consulting & Trial Consulting Guidebook for Litigators

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Timelines Appear In Most Trials - Learn how to get the most out of using trial timelines in this ebook

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Authors

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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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