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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

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

From the Hot Seat: To Use or Not to Use Trial Presentation Software

Posted by Alex Brown on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 02:42 PM

david-goliath-trial-presentation-trial-director.jpgby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

While I was working on a case with one of our clients, it came to light that the opposition was using a trial technician for trial. At first our client did not want to bear the expense and did not feel that the case lent itself to the use of a full-time “hot seat” operator.

I asked the client a few questions:

  1. What percentage of potential jurors carry a smartphone?
  2. Of that group, how many have tablets?
  3. Of those people who are “connected,” how many will be impressed by the flash and professionalism of a skilled trial tech?

As you would expect, the numbers were high. It was obvious to everyone that if you are on a case and one side is using trial software, you have to match the other side or be left in the dust.

People expect to see technology in the courtroom, appreciate the effort if it is made, and do not understand if one side does not use it. If your opposition is using modern technology and you are using the overhead and drawing on flip charts, your message will be lost.

In this instance, we helped our client find a solution that did not permit the opposition to make it look unprepared and unprofessional.

Here are 10 good rules for using trial presentation software to the best effect. 

  1. Provide training. Make sure if you are going to use it, know how to use it or find someone that does. The software is designed to make your presentation effective and seamless. If you are not getting that result, bring in someone who can.
  1. Use the right tool. Sanction, TrialPad, TrialDirector (laptop or iPad), and OnQue are the top platforms today. Use the one that’s best for you. Ninety percent of trial teams that use this type of software use TrialDirector, simply because it works. This should not take away from the other platforms. Sanction has improved, and OnQue is the new kid on the block and seems to handle video much better than the alternatives. But comfort is paramount, so use the platform that is most comfortable to the one presenting. Remember, you are not the one running the presentation. They are there to support you.
  1. Know the court. Each court has its own rules. Sometimes a judge will not allow technology at all, and sometimes the technology built into a courtroom will not work because it is outdated, so know the court and their rules. For example, see 5 Secrets for Trying Cases in SDNY.
  1. Don’t procrastinate. Sometimes you have to make last-minute changes, but it’s always better to have your video clips, PowerPoint decks, and exhibits/demonstratives done early. Not just because you do not want your team putting these things together in the middle of the night just before trial but mainly because you need the time to practice. See, The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation.
  1. Run everything through and video record yourself to see how it all looks and works. This also permits you to build a level of comfort with your trial tech and allows you to see how the software handles your clips, decks, and images. Remember, you don’t need to be worrying about anything more then you already do.
  1. Build in redundancy. Everything in twos. Two machines, two switches, two of every cable, and sometimes two techs. This depends on the scope of the case, but a backup operator can be a lifesaver when a case lasts longer than three weeks. Life happens. Have someone ready to pick up the ball if somehow it gets fumbled. Anything can happen to a person or a piece of technology if you give enough time, so be ready with a backup.
  1. Either/or is a great concept. Trial boards, handouts, and physical models are still useful. Use them along with your modern presentation software. In court is not where you need to learn how to use them or which one works better.
  1. Make a key. Make sure you create a set of naming criteria to name everything you are going to use, and do not deviate from those criteria. This will allow everyone on the team to know where things are and to know where to look for that unscripted document/clip. Do not make it a hard key where they need to look in a book to find the location. Make it easy because then it is faster and it will make you look more professional.
  1. Think of part-time help. If you simply cannot have a tech there every day, one option is to have someone do it on certain days. Opening, the testimony of experts, or closing – the days that may matter most.

  2. Set hot keys. Most programs will allow you to set up hot keys or short cuts. Figure them out and use them. Three seconds is a lifetime when you are waiting for someone to show a call-out or even just bring up an image. It makes you look unprofessional and gives strength to your opposition.

Other articles from A2L Consulting focused on trial technicians, hot seat operators, and trial presentation software include:

trial technician trial technology courtroom technology consultants new york texas florida california boston virginia

 

Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Trial Director

Last Day to Vote: Best of Legal Times 2016

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 @ 12:43 PM

bestofthelegaltimes2016-lastday.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

A2L was thrilled to be nominated in a number of categories again in the “Best of Legal Times” competition. We have won in these categories before, and I'd love your vote today in support of us.

I think these types of surveys are very useful for lawyers to participate in by identifying the very best service providers to the legal industry whom they are familiar with, in any number of categories. Once the results are in and published, lawyers and law firms can use the survey results, which can serve as a handy shortcut for finding the best providers. This includes, of course, trial consulting, jury consulting and all the other areas in which A2L competes.

These surveys don’t replace the old-fashioned method of seeking out good references and using providers that you’ve had good experiences with in the past. But they add very useful information – the “wisdom of crowds” in the form of the opinions of hundreds of lawyers who have looked to these providers in the past.

We believe that we stack up with the top providers in our industry. This year, we were nominated as Best Trial Consultants, Best Jury Consultants, and Best Demonstrative Evidence Provider.

If you'd like to participate, follow this link and scroll (you can skip the rest) to questions 45, 46, & 49 - don't forget to press the DONE button at the end.

best-trial-consultants.jpg

Thanks for helping to identify the best in the business. You've told us before that we are at the top of our industries, and I hope you'll do it again.

best of the legal times 2016

Previous related accolades:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Trial Director, Awards, blog

[Free E-Book] The Value of Litigation Consulting 2nd Edition

Posted by Ken Lopez on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 @ 03:17 PM

value-litigation-consulting-400-tall.jpgby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

As trials become more and more complex – just think of the intellectual property cases worth billions of dollars that have rooted the attention of Silicon Valley and the world – litigation consulting has become more and more important. There may be fewer jury trials now than there used to be, but many of the cases that go to trial can shake up an industry.

“Litigation consulting” is a broad term that describes a broad variety of services that help lawyers try and win cases. They include jury and bench trial consulting, litigation graphics consulting, on-site courtroom technology support and similar services. In a given case, a trial team may need all the services that A2L provides, or just a subset of those services.

In order to show how far the litigation consulting industry has come in a relatively short time, we are issuing a free --- page book, The Value of Litigation Consulting. The book explains why even the best trial lawyers can benefit from the services of top-notch litigation consultants. It’s a handbook that shows where the industry has been and where it’s heading.

The book is full of useful, hard-hitting articles on these topics, including 11 Things Your Colleagues Pay Litigation Consultants to Do, 6 Secrets of the Jury Consulting Business You Should Know, 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics Are More Complicated Than You Think, How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?, 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians.

You can download the book here - completely free - no strings attached.

value of litigation consulting consultants

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation

9 Things I’ve Noticed About Effective Litigation Graphics After 20 Years as a Litigator

Posted by Tony Klapper on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 @ 09:39 AM


tony-klapper-welcome-litigation-consultant-litigation-graphics.jpgby Tony B. Klapper

Managing Director, Litigation Consulting & General Counsel
A2L Consulting

I’ve recently joined the litigation consulting team at A2L as its Managing Director. This means that I will be working closely with top litigators to help them craft persuasive themes and stories, assist in the testing of a case during a mock trial exercise, and develop powerful demonstrative exhibits.

In my 20+ years working at Kirkland & Ellis and then Reed Smith, I have participated in many trials, arbitrations, evidentiary hearings, mediations, and board presentations. Almost without fail, I have been the attorney responsible for coordinating and developing the litigation graphics for these events. That did not mean putting mouse to screen in a graphics program or PowerPoint. Instead, I would put pencil to paper and sketch out a great idea that someone else transformed into a powerful litigation graphic. It is work that I have always been passionate about.

As I transition from working on graphics two or three times a year to developing them every week, I want to take a moment to reflect on what I’ve observed about trial graphics as a litigation partner at two major law firms.

  1. Janus-like slides. Janus is the Roman god of gates and doorways. He is depicted as having two faces and typically represents beginnings and endings or contrasting experiences, such as war and peace. Although not one of your sexier Roman gods – clearly no Jupiter or Venus – Janus does inspire some effective litigation graphics: A split-screen slide that reflects a cause on the left and an effect on the right, or a representation or claim on the left and visual proof that the representation or claim is false on the right. A single, simple split-screen slide can instantaneously convey a powerful message without resorting to a series of dull, ineffective bullet-point assertions. 
  1. The Timeline. Effective stories are not simply recitations of chronological events. But “when” something happens and how that something relates to “when” something else happens is almost always a central feature in litigation and part of a good story. Stories have beginnings, middles and endings. They transport us through a maze of actors and activities, all anchored in time. Instead of vertically listing from top to bottom a series of events -- as many fond of the easel and flip chart will do -- a well-crafted and visually appealing timeline allows you to elegantly develop your narrative in linear fashion. But it’s not just the narrative. A timeline that is chock full of entries may tell a completely different story than one with wide gaps of time, even without needing to read the fine print.
  1. The Hyperlinked Timeline. Of course, reading the fine print may also be important. I have designed interactive timelines that employ hyperlinks to document call-outs. This allows the audience to remain anchored chronologically while at the same time digging into the supporting details that prove up your case. I have even used parallel timelines, each with hyperlinked call-outs, to compare and contrast, provide context, or simply rebut unsupported claims with evidence-backed truths.
  1. The Timeline on Steroids. One of the more brilliant lawyers I ever worked with was David Bernick, now a partner at Dechert. David taught me a tremendous amount about story-telling and graphics development. Of the many things that David was skilled at, I was always particularly impressed by his ability to design timelines. But not just any timeline. David would weave together multiple, interrelated concepts into a single slide that employed timelines (sometimes in parallel), trend lines with vertical and horizontal axes, and icons that conveyed a wealth of information and brought focused simplicity to a sea of complexity.
  1. Photographs. Of course, a graphic does not need to have bells and whistles to be effective. Some of the most effective PowerPoint litigation graphics I ever created were simply pictures that conveyed an important point: a picture of an incredibly dusty asbestos manufacturing plant from the 1930s to contrast with the well-ventilated and controlled facility in the 1970s. Or photographs of filthy hotel rooms where an older manager was fired to contrast with sparkly clean hotel rooms where the younger manager was retained.
  1. Checklists. There is nothing simpler than a “yes” or “no” answer. Whether organized around the elements of your case, key scientific or medical observations, or even the verdict form, the simple “yes” or “no” checklist slide is often the best way to orient a jury around critical bottom-line conclusions.
  1. Process Charts. In the majority of cases I have worked on, I represented the defendant. In the majority of those cases, an underdog plaintiff claimed my deep-pocketed manufacturing client had cut corners; put profits over safety; said one thing, but did something else; and/or just stuck its proverbial head in the proverbial sand and ignored known risks. These can be tough cases to win. But one thing I have always found to be effective in crafting my client’s narrative in these types of cases was to spend time on process. I would detail graphically all the steps and controls, and people involved, in the cradle-to-grave design, manufacturing and post-sale monitoring of my client’s products. These process charts would not only help the judge and jury understand a complex series of events, they would provide their own implicit message. The greater the complexity of that process (depicted with an array of arrows connected to boxes connected to more arrows) the easier it was to believe that the company and its employees were not taking short cuts, but rather took pride in the products they made. This went a long towards de-demonizing Goliath in those cases brought by David
  1. THE Slide. It does not happen in every case, but one of the more rewarding aspects of demonstrative design is to be able to effectively convey your entire case and its central theme or themes in a single slide. I recently worked on a matter where the plaintiffs and their experts merely assumed that the defendant was the cause of the plaintiffs’ harm. Actual proof required a series of steps, each of which the plaintiffs ignored in favor of a deceptively facile two-step explanation. Armed with that theme early in the litigation, I secured “assumption” admissions from critical witnesses and wove into the opening and closing decks a single slide that clearly conveyed the plaintiffs’ short cuts.
  1. Color. As a young associate many moons ago, I learned that the color red can have a powerful effect on people. During a trial training program, a seasoned litigator stood up and demonstrated how to cross-examine a witness. When it came time to impeach the witness with prior testimony, the litigator prominently displayed a bound volume of that testimony -- supported with a bright red backing. Each time the witness strayed from his testimony, the litigator merely had to flash the red-backed volume, and the witness and the jury knew what was coming. Soon no impeachment was even necessary; once flashed, the red-backed volume, like an electric dog collar, served to keep the witness’s testimony in line. From that day forward, I understood the power of color. If you are trying to say something negative through a demonstrative exhibit, red is most certainly your color.

Other A2L Consulting articles related to the development of litigation graphics, the art and science of litigation consulting, and the development of a strong narrative for your case:

litigation consulting graphics jury trial technology

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Jury Consulting, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Juries, Jury Consultants, Trial Preparation, Storytelling, Persuasive Graphics, Visual Persuasion, Persuasion

The Top 15 Litigation E-Books & Webinars of 2015

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 @ 03:18 PM

top litigation ebooks webinars 2015 a2l consulting litigation consultants jury graphicsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Every year we publish several free e-books and conduct several free webinars focused on litigation, trial graphics, persuasion, and winning cases, both before and after trial. These are among our more popular products. Thus far in 2015, readers have downloaded a piece of content from our collection of more than 30 e-books and webinars more than 10,000 times.

There is something for everyone in these e-books and webinars, from the latest insights in storytelling to the art of making a great presentation, from how to get a jury to reject junk science to the best way to conduct voir dire. These are not bland marketing materials; they represent the state of the art in our profession, and they are full of useful tips and strategies that lawyers can use.

Our books are typically made up of hand-curated articles culled from over 500 that the team members of A2L Consulting have published over the last five years. 

A2L's webinars are like free mini-CLE courses -- except that they are much more interesting than your typical CLE event.

Our newest type of material is the podcast. These are showing serious promise as more and more readers learn about them and download them. We now have three podcasts available – again, totally free for download. They are: Twelve Things Every Mock Juror Ever Has Said, Five Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements, and Storytelling in Litigation.

Here are the top 15 litigation e-books and webinars of 2015, ranked in order of the number of times they have been downloaded. It is possible to share each of these resources with your colleagues on Twitter and LinkedIn by clicking the buttons below.

15. How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology

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14. Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool Webinar

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13. The Patent Litigation Toolkit 3rd Ed

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12. The In-House Counsel Litigation Toolkit

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11. Using and Creating Litigation Graphics to Persuade

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10. Winning Your Case BEFORE Trial Webinar

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9. Combating Junk Science E-Book 2nd Ed

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8. Top 75 Articles of All Time E-Book

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7. Litigation Support Toolkit E-Book

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6. The Complex Civil Litigation Guidebook

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5. How To Use and Design Trial Timelines

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4. Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed

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3. Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements Webinar

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2. The Opening Statement Toolkit

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1. The Voir Dire Handbook

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, E-Book, Webinar, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Jury Consultants, Articles, Voir Dire, Storytelling, Opening, CLE

7 Bad Habits of Law Firm Litigators

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 @ 11:08 AM

attorney bad habits lawyer trial courtroomby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

In our role as trial consultants, we frequently work with some of the top law firm litigators in the nation, as well as with in-house counsel for some of the nation’s major companies. Ideally, we form a cohesive team that works seamlessly to provide outstanding trial representation and to win cases.

Occasionally, we find that law firm litigators are engaging in bad habits that can increase inefficiency, cost the client money, and decrease the chances of winning at trial. Here are seven of them.

1. Lawyers designing PowerPoint slides. Anyone who went to law school can of course use PowerPoint. Generating PowerPoint slides is not difficult, and lawyers are smart. Many lawyers can even make PowerPoint slides that look nice. But:

a. It's not about pretty slides, it's about effective slides, and the rules for how to create those take years to learn. See Litigation Graphics: It's Not a Beauty Contest

b. A lawyer doing slides costs the same or more per hour than a litigation graphics expert doing slides. Classically, you could cut your own hair, but why would you? See How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?

c. A lawyer creating slides does not know the tricks of the trade. See Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer)

d. A lawyer creating slides will likely tell a chronological story instead of an effective story. See Don't Be Just Another Timeline Trial Lawyer

e. A law firm might claim to have in-house litigation graphics expertise (See 13 Reasons Law Firm Litigation Graphics Departments Have Bad Luck). But ask yourself: How many trials does that law firm do per year? For even the largest firms, that answer may be a couple dozen. How many cases does that lone artist work on? A small percentage of what is already a small number? Contrast that with a litigation consulting firm with graphics expertise that might do 50 or 100 trials per year concentrated among a handful of key staff. See With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

2. Paralegals running trial technology. This is pretty common, and I'm not as adamant about this as I am about content creation. Still, when something goes wrong, you want to have one or more people on the team who have been to hundreds of trials, not a few. You might save some money by keeping the service in-house, but the savings are small if any, and the trade-off is a lot of risk. Free Download: How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology 

3. Conducting in-house mock trials. I call this getting high on your own supply. You should pick mock jurors from a broad base of people that mirrors your likely jury. See 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them

4. Lawyers running PowerPoint at trial. It often works, but it often does not work. Why would you allow your litigators to create risk with almost no benefit? See Making Good Use of Trial Director & Demonstratives in an Arbitration and 12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout

5. Outside litigators who are afraid to ask for help. Litigation is one of the few competitive areas in which people are afraid to rely on coaches, best practices, and experts, and that makes no sense. Even Michael Jordan had a coach. See Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators

6. Outside trial counsel who is afraid to ask for a needed budget item. They often see a pie of a set size, and asking for budget for a mock trial or other litigation consulting support, might take pie away. You should instead see a pie whose size can be changed when it makes sense. See In-House Counsel Should Make Outside Litigation Counsel Feel Safe

7. Outside litigators who conduct frighteningly last-minute preparation for trial. I really think the days of the cowboy litigator who rides in at the 11th hour and charismatically bends a jury to his will are largely over. The opposition is much more sophisticated now, and so are juries. See The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation

Have you ever seen any of these habits play out?

Other articles and resources by A2L Consulting focusing on trial preparation, the relationship between in-house counsel and outside litigators and on winning cases generally include:

in-house counsel litigation toolkit e-book free download

 

 

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Mock Trial, Litigation Consulting, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, PowerPoint, In-House Counsel

Why We Blog (and Maybe Your Firm Should Too)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 04:10 PM

blog blawg storytelling inbound marketing lawyers content marketing attorneysby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

A new friend of mine had been the head of litigation at a Fortune 500 firm known for frequently being involved in litigation. He said something interesting to me earlier this week: “You guys put the best information out there. You synthesize litigation information better than anyone else. But does it translate into business for you?”

He said that last part with a bit of skepticism in his voice. That was an “aha” moment for me. I realized that I really haven’t talked much about how helpful our blogging has been to our business (and might be for yours), so I want to share some of the amazing facts about it.

A month ago, we celebrated our 7,500th subscriber who signed up to be notified of new articles in this Litigation Consulting Report Blog. In just four and a half years, we have gone from zero subscribers to 7,500. We have progressed from 800 visitors to our website each month to about 20,000. We've gone from a small handful of downloads from our website each month to about 2,000 per month. We've gone from a couple dozen published articles to more than 500. Even the American Bar Association has called our blog one of the very best. That is amazing, and I've shared most of that information in some form before.

Here's the most important piece I've never shared, and it's what I shared with my new litigation friend: Just about every business day, sometimes many times per day, someone asks about working with us as a result of reading something on our blog.

Five years ago, I thought a blog would be a neat way for us to show some thought leadership in the industry, but I didn't really think it would be a big business generator. I was wrong. The blog generates most of our business now, and I am more surprised about that fact than anyone.

Five years ago, we pulled in most of our jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology/courtroom hot-seat consulting work by calling prospects on the phone (repeatedly). Most of our competitors still do this. I just never believed that annoying people into buying from us was a good long-term strategy, and I think history has proven us right.

Our blog generates exactly the kind of business that we are great at. If someone reads our blog and enjoys it, it means they tend to think as we do as an organization. It means they are serious about winning and willing to do what it takes to win. They probably also have an understanding of the proven persuasive power of storytelling, of litigation graphics, of the rhetorical techniques we share with our clients and of the value of outsourcing some of these elements of trial preparation to experts. It self-selects the very best litigators who typically go on to win cases. 

So, I can't say that we blog for the money, but it is a very pleasant side effect. We blog because we love the work that we do. We live in the courtroom every day, and there are not many people like us. We love to share our message and hopefully to elevate the entire industry in the process.

A blog is the most classic and best example of inbound marketing – the type of marketing that is considered the best and most successful type in the Internet age. Inbound marketing focuses on creating high-quality content that pulls people toward one’s company and one’s services. By aligning the content that we publish with our customers’ interests -- through the blog, the articles that we write and other means -- we naturally attract inbound traffic that, over time, becomes our best source of new customers.

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Tags: Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Articles, Marketing, Business Development, blog

20 New Litigation Realities (to Celebrate Our 20th)

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 @ 07:19 AM

litigation consulting litigation consultantsby Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Today is the 20th anniversary of the founding of A2L. We literally started in a closet not long after I finished law school. First, we were Animators at Law. Then almost five years ago, we became A2L Consulting to reflect the fact that litigation graphics were now less than half of our business. Jury consulting, trial technology support and litigation advisory services are now a bigger part of what we do.

Twenty years later, we're a national litigation consulting firm and arguably, the very top litigation consulting firm in the country. That's not mere puffery. We're consistently voted #1 in local and national legal industry surveys.

To celebrate our 20th, here are 20 new realities that litigators, in-house counsel and litigation support professionals should consider.

1. The New CLE: It is a rare CLE seminar that does not put us all to sleep. I think that modern formats of continued learning like our Litigation Consulting Report blog and other litigation blogs, including those recognized by the American Bar Association, are the best places to go for continued learning. It’s time for the legal establishment to agree.

2. The power of storytelling: The science behind the effectiveness of storytelling as a persuasion device is just now coming into view. It is critical for litigators to study this field and to understand the insights it has developed. See, Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed.

3. Big firm litigators rarely try cases: As a result of this new reality, litigators must get a new kind of help - help from trial tested litigation consultants. These courtroom experts may participate in 50-100 trials per year. It just stands to reason that they can help a litigator who is in court far less frequently. See, With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now?

4. Using PowerPoint incorrectly does more harm than good. Most lawyers will actually design slides for themselves that will reduce overall persuasion - but they don't have to. See, How Much Text on a PowerPoint Slide is Too Much?

5. Juror expectations are on the rise: Jurors expect litigators to wow them a bit with graphics and to keep them interested. They know what can be done in the form of graphics and at a lower price than ever before. See, Will Being Folksy and Low-Tech Help You Win a Case?

6. The ability to test is on the rise: The often high price of mock trials scares off many, but almost every case deserves some form of testing. To make this possible, our firm and others have developed a wide range of testing methodologies that can fit every budget. See, Introducing a New Litigation Consulting Service: the Micro-Mock™

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7. Persuasive visuals are everywhere. From White House press releases, to the courtroom, to advocacy organizations, the world is waking up to the power of persuasive graphics. See, Persuasive Graphics: How Pictures Are Increasingly Influencing You

8. All filings use visuals now. It used to be incredibly rare to see persuasive litigation graphics used in court filings, but now it is commonplace. See, 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not)

9. Law firms will become even more like businesses: Law firm marketing, business development and PR were unheard of 20 years ago. Law firm pricing strategies are a new and emerging field. Yet all of these areas are normal functions of even small businesses. Increasingly, law firms will look more like businesses going forward, embracing more transparency and developing sales teams. See, 24 Things to Know About The "New Normal" of The Legal Economy

10. Courtrooms are more electronic, but there are not all there yet. We still bring equipment into most trials. There are many things you need to check with the court. And a great deal still depends on the predilections of the judge. See, Trial Technicians, Hot-Seat Operators and Trial Technology

11. The science of persuasion is real science. Neurological research has shown that particular regions of the brain are activated when a person is persuaded by an argument. New findings are constantly emerging. See, 8 Videos and 7 Articles About the Science of Courtroom Persuasion

12. For a small trial, you can use an iPad and TrialDirector (for free). It's not something you want to try in a document intensive case, but for a case with a handful of documents and just a few video depositions, this is now a reasonable strategy to consider. See, 5 Tips for Using TrialDirector and Trial Technicians Effectively

13. Mock hearings are routine. From mock Markman hearings, to mock Federal Circuit appeals, trial consultants can and do provide mock sessions that hone litigators’ skills and show them what to expect. See, 11 Surprising Areas Where We Are Using Mock Exercises and Testing

14. Graphics in depositions. We are increasingly being called upon to create demonstrative evidence to be used during depositions. See these deposition articles generally.

15. Animation is used selectively. Once, animation was the be-all-end-all of the demonstrative evidence industry. 3D animation at least is now only used in big ticket cases involving complicated mechanisms that must be seen from multiple angles or anytime we want a jury to experience "seeing is believing." See, What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples)

16. Animation is more PowerPoint than Pixar. These days, we create a lot of animation, but almost all of it is done in PowerPoint. Now, don't be fooled, you can do some pretty sophisticated work in PowerPoint now. Have a look: 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

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17. Voir dire testing is real science not gut instinct. There was a time when jury consultants were a lot of flash, bravado and gut instinct. Those days are now gone. Now, the great jury consultants let data based on testing speak about how best to conduct jury selection. See, 12 Insider Tips for Choosing a Jury Consultant

18. Judge expectations. Just as juror expectations have risen so have the expectations of most judges. They are not looking for CSI. Rather, they are looking for a much more efficient presentation of the evidence through the use of well thought through litigation graphics and even the design of ipad-compatible hyperlinked briefs. See, Hyperlinking Briefs: Be More Persuasive Using The iPad

19. The use of litigation consultants as coaches is on the rise. I know I'm biased, but if I were in-house, I would insist that my outside litigators worked with a firm like ours. With so much at stake and so few trials occuring, getting a third-party view of a case has enormous ROI in a big-ticket case. See, 25 Things In-House Counsel Should Insist Outside Litigation Counsel Do

20. Great litigation consulting firms endure, adapt and grow. Our firm was founded as an animation for lawyers firm, then it became a graphics for lawyers firm, then a litigation consulting firm (as far as I know we coined the use of that term in 1998), then a trial technology and litigation graphics firm, then a jury consulting and litigation graphics firm, and now our work advising in-house counsel about how to get great results from outside litigation counsel is taking A2L into new areas still. We'll keep adapting and growing, and I hope you'll join us in that effort. 

a2l consulting top 75 articles of all time

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Jury Consulting, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, iPad, Jury Consultants, Voir Dire, Storytelling, PowerPoint, Persuasive Graphics, CLE, Persuasion

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Authors

KenLopez resized 152

Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.


tony-klapper-headshot-500x500.jpg 

Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@a2lc.com.


dr laurie kuslansky jury consultant a2l consulting







Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D., Managing Director, Trial & Jury Consulting, has conducted over 400 mock trials in more than 1,000 litigation engagements over the past 20 years. Dr. Kuslansky's goal is to provide the highest level of personalized client service possible whether one's need involves a mock trial, witness preparation, jury selection or a mock exercise not involving a jury. Dr. Kuslansky can be reached at kuslansky@A2LC.com.

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