A Tip from the CEO: Document Call-Outs: Persuading via the Document Call-out Persuading Under the Guise of Informing Using Trial Exhibits
June 3, 2003
by Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D., President & CEO
Q: Document Call-Outs are used in every trial and their only function is to help the Judge or Jury extract key information from a long document, right?
A: Wrong. The best document call-outs persuade. (see below)
Animators' Litigation Consultants and Information Designers routinely use an age-old courtroom tool, the document call-out trial exhibit, in a totally new way to help win more cases. I want to quickly share with you the basics of our trial exhibit technique so that you may use it effectively in your next trial or presentation.
Recently, Animators at Law was hired by The U.S. Department of Justice to produce a group of trial exhibits to defend against injury claims in a rescue helicopter landing. One of these trial exhibits was what we call a persuasive document call-out. Its purpose was to convey a clear visual argument rather than to be used, as most document call-outs are, as a routine story telling device.
In consultation with our Animators at Law Information Designers and our Litigation Consultants, all of whom are attorneys, we created a document call-out with a stop sign shape. The ABA has found that combining and oral and visual messages, as done in this trial exhibit, increases juror memory retention by at least 650 percent. This relatively simple approach to highlighting the key policy in this case was designed to leave the Court with a strong and clear message:
The hospital where the helicopter landed did not follow its procedure to STOP traffic and this failure, not the Government's helicopter, caused the injury.
With talented lawyering and help from effective trial exhibits such as this one, the Court ruled in the Government's favor and awarded nothing to the Plaintiff.
While Animators normally finds itself creating trial exhibits for a top 100 law firm and for the defense side of cases with more than $50 million at stake, this case underscores our ability to also do a little with a lot. Since this case was relativity simple from a factual and legal standpoint, we were able to work within the Government's typically strained budget without difficulty. However, even in the multi-billion dollar cases that Animators is routinely involved in, Animators finds that its fees are a mere drop in the bucket compared to what is at stake.
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