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

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Courtroom Technology and Its Limitations

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

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During one college summer, I used to engage in aikido, a martial art. In retrospect, it was all a bit goofy, but I learned some good lessons from it. In particular, I learned about a technique common to many of the martial arts and to conflict in general. This is the idea that you can use someone's momentum against them. If they are running at you, you can move to the side and trip them -- and they will fall. This requires far less energy from you. Similarly, in the courtroom, while there is no physical contact (hopefully), there is certainly a direction and a momentum in the way factfinders arrive at conclusions.  We've written about the idea of confirmation bias before in articles like I’m Right, Right? 5 Ways to Manage Juror Bias and Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias. It's a concept that I believe all trial lawyers must understand at least somewhat. In the courtroom, using the momentum of a juror’s beliefs to help further those beliefs is a master trial lawyer technique. A new study reveals just how important it is for high-level trial lawyers to understand this concept of persuasion. The study, reported in the open-access journal Computational Biology, confirms something that is a little sad. It turns out that most humans will continue believing something that they previously believed, even when presented with clear evidence to the contrary and even when it hurts us to continue believing it. It's a bit more nuanced than that, but this is the essence of it. In the courtroom, we regularly work with banks accused of fraud, companies that have allegedly polluted the environment, and tech companies accused of theft of trade secrets. Trial lawyers always have the temptation to simply try to straightforwardly show judges and juries evidence that clearly contradicts the beliefs that those factfinders arrived with. That only makes sense, right? After all, if someone says you put the pollution there and you didn't, you just tell them you didn't do it, bring evidence, and you're off the hook, right? Unfortunately, my experience and this study do not support that idea. All humans arrive with certain biases when they show up to trial – such as these:  Bankers are greedy.  Oil companies don't care about the environment.  Tech companies will do anything to win. All too often, trial counsel puts a lot of effort into trying to disprove these beliefs. Instead, consider the aikido move, step to the side, agree with the momentum, and use it to your advantage as follows: Bankers are greedy, so why would they ever do something that risked their money? XYZ oil company has been more reckless with the environment than you or I, but given what they went through before, do you really think they are dumb enough to do it again? Sure, tech companies will do anything to get ahead, but can you imagine anything more humiliating to someone as competitive as ABC company as looking as if you're not as smart as the other guy? Nothing is worth that when you are a competitive tech geek. In other words, find a way to accept that either your factfinders walked in with a certain bias or that your opponent will help them form a bias during opening statements – and then run with it. There’s no better way to test this approach than in a mock trial setting. That’s where you can learn to anticipate the biases and get ahead of them. Common sense, that new study, and several decades of litigation experience bear this out. Other free A2L articles and resources related to confirmation bias, the overwhelming power of the opening statement, and the power of effective storytelling in the courtroom include: When Smart Ain’t So Smart - Cognitive Bias, Experts and Jurors 7 Ways to Overcome Cognitive Bias and Persuade Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points? 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much? 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 4 Free A2L Consulting Webinar: Persuasive Storytelling for Litigation Good-Looking Graphic Design ≠ Good-Working Visual Persuasion I’m Right, Right? 5 Ways to Manage Juror Bias Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You 14 Places Your Colleagues are Using Persuasive Graphics That Maybe You're Not Font Matters - A Trial Graphics Consultant's Trick to Overcome Bias Why the President is Better than You at Creating Persuasive Graphics Law360 Interviews A2L Consulting's Founder/CEO Ken Lopez Are Jurors on Your “Team”? Using Group Membership to Influence Subscribe to this blog for free

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Please Pretty Up These Litigation Graphics

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

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by Tony Klapper Managing Director, Litigation Consulting A2L Consulting Lately, I’ve been reading journalist Thomas Friedman’s current book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in an Age of Accelerations, and I’ve been reflecting on some of the book’s messages. The book focuses on the new, fast-moving world that technology has created for all of us and how we should adapt to living in it. It’s not explicitly about lawyers or trial preparation. But I think there are three lessons that lawyers and trial consultants can learn from Friedman’s book. It’s important to set aside time to think and reflect, to look at the bigger picture. That’s what Friedman meant by “being late” and its virtues. For the trial lawyer and consultant, the message is straightforward: Get off the constantly turning hamster wheel of time. Don’t focus endlessly on the myriad documents, motions and combative correspondence with opposing counsel in the case. Think of what the broad narrative should be. Ask yourself what the case is really about, not what you were doing in the last 15 minutes.

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

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by Tony Klapper Managing Director, Litigation Consulting A2L Consulting I recently had the opportunity to make a presentation at a federal judges’ conference in New Jersey that brought together judges and lawyers from that state. About 300 lawyers attended, as did about two dozen federal judges. The subject of my presentation was storytelling and its role in trials. After my presentation was over, I informally polled the judges in the room on their views concerning the importance of visuals at trial and the role of storytelling. Every single one of the judges, with the possible exception of one bankruptcy judge, indicated that he or she thought that the use of demonstratives was a critical part of any trial presentation. This is a notable indication, if an unscientific one, that judges, who are key decisionmakers in any courtroom, understand the role of visual persuasion. I would add a caveat. They are judges, after all, and I have little doubt that they will sua sponte reject a trial lawyer’s effort to tell a story visually that in the judge’s view is inherently unfair to the other side. Judges will control what goes on in the courtroom when it comes to the use of demonstratives as part of your narrative, as they will in every other aspect of a trial. That means that, as we said in our most recent post, trial lawyers should always have a backup plan in mind, a “Plan B” in case the judge views their original approach as objectionable. But the results of my informal poll are consistent with what we at A2L have been saying for the past several years here. Jurors are human beings who learn best when they learn visually, and they understand a case the most instinctively if it comes to them in the form of a story. Other articles about bench trials, mock bench trials, using demonstrative evidence with judges, and visual storytelling from A2L Consulting include: 21 Ingenious Ways to Research Your Judge 7 Things You Never Want to Say in Court 10 Suggestions for Conducting Mock Bench Trial Consulting Exercises Using Litigation Graphics in Bench Trials: How Different Is It From Jury Trials? 11 Surprising Areas Where We Are Using Mock Exercises and Testing Storytelling at Trial Works - But Whom Should the Story Be About? Winning BEFORE Trial - Part 3 - Storytelling for Lawyers 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations 3 Articles Discussing What Jurors Really Think About You 11 Tips for Winning at Your Markman Hearings 5 Essential Elements of Storytelling and Persuasion 11 Tips for Preparing to Argue at the Federal Circuit 5 Keys to Telling a Compelling Story in the Courtroom Preparing for ITC Hearings Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important

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Top 10 Litigation Articles So Far This Year

by 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. Please use the social sharing buttons to tweet out articles or share on your LinkedIn account: 10. Using Litigation Graphics in Bench Trials: How Different Is It From Jury Trials? 9. Still Think Persuasion is About Talking While Showing Bullet Points? 8. How to Get Great Results From a Good Lawyer 7. The Key Elements of a Good Narrative at Trial or Anywhere Else 6. 2017 Will be a Great Year for (Most Types of) Trials 5. 3 Excellent Ways to Use Top-Bottom Timelines in Trial 4. NITA Experts Agree: Jurors Want Lawyers to Show, Not Tell 3. The Value of Storytelling: A Current Case in Point 2. 7 Habits of Great Trial Teams 1. Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important

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