by Ken Lopez
Trial teams routinely spend tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, developing litigation graphics for a big case. They do this because litigation graphics are among the top five things that can affect the outcome of a trial.
Over three decades and after thousands of conversations with trial teams about litigation graphics, I've watched some cases start off on the right foot and some on the wrong foot. That turns out to be critical. Frequently, the way an engagement starts between a litigation graphics team and a trial team will define the success of the engagement.
So, here are 11 best practices designed to help your trial team get the first meeting (we call these meetings intake meetings) with your litigation graphics team just right.
- Know your litigation graphics provider. There are two kinds. The first type is a true consulting or trusted adviser firm populated by litigators, jury consultants, and information artists. The second is really a group of order takers or trial technicians. How you behave toward each type of firm matters enormously. The latter type shouldn’t be considered for big-ticket litigation, so I won't further address how to handle them.
- Send the litigation graphics team the pleadings in advance. Great litigation graphics consultants can digest and synthesize enormous amounts of information. The sooner you send that information, the better.
- Time matters enormously. I don't think you can conduct a proper intake meeting in less than an hour. I've had some run eight hours. I think the right amount of time is probably about two hours.
- Advocate! This is a good chance for you to convince a group of people who don't know much about your case that you are right and you deserve to win. It's easy practice.
- But don't only tell your side. Explain how the other side could win.
- Explain what the judge or jury needs to find for our team to win. Start with the verdict form if necessary as starting with the end in mind is usually the best way to start.
- Describe your weak points. Really, explain where we are vulnerable. This way, we can all work around those weak spots and mount a proper defense.
- Understand your own style. Are you more specific about what you want, or do you like to see options? Many lawyers "know it when they see it" while others want to control each slide that is created. Both styles work. Tell your litigation graphics consultants your style to get the best results most in line with your thinking.
- Do you have some deeply held beliefs about the style of your litigation graphics? Say so.
- Consider how much input you want from the litigation graphics team. Not all litigators like input. Not all litigation graphics firms should be giving advice. Assuming that you're working with a firm with highly qualified personnel, let them know what your tolerance level is for input.
- One more thing. Steve Jobs was famous for always leaving the big announcement for the end. In nine out of 10 meetings, trial teams do the same thing. If there is a bad document, tell your litigation graphics folks about it — ideally, not while we are shaking hands on the way into the elevator. The sooner we discuss it, the more informed and circumspect the strategy for dealing with it can be.
Other free articles and resources from A2L Consulting about trial preparation, the development of litigation graphics, and the preparation of persuasive visual aids for trial include:
- Lawyers: It’s Time to Make Time for Trial Preparation
- 10 Criteria that Define Great Trial Teams
- The 14 Most Preventable Trial Preparation Mistakes
- 5 Trial Graphics That Work Every Time
- At Trial, Prepare for the Best But Expect the Worst
- The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation
- 7 Habits of Great Trial Teams
- FREE DOWNLOAD: Storytelling for Litigators E-Book 3rd Ed.
- 16 Trial Presentation Tips You Can Learn from Hollywood
- Law360 Interviews A2L Consulting's Founder/CEO Ken Lopez
- Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important
- 3 Trial Preparation Red Flags That Suggest a Loss is Imminent
- How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?
- Top 7 Things I've Observed as a Litigation Consultant
- Sample One-Year Trial Prep Calendar for High Stakes Cases
- Using & Creating Litigation Graphics to Persuade - An E-Book for Litigators and Litigation Support Professionals
- 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations