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Almost every day, our trial-lawyer litigation graphics consultants and our jury consultants are working to help a trial team to develop, refine, and practice their opening statements. We do this nationwide, often hundreds of times a year. Every trial team is different. One team, I recently had the pleasure of working with asked me for a model of what the best trial presenters do a week or two before trial. They didn't come out and ask that specific question, but they asked a lot of specific questions like: To practice, do we just print our opening from Word and read it? How do we integrate the slides when practicing? Do we print out the PowerPoint slides, and what about the animations where the text overlaps when we print? Should I read the opening or memorize it? Should we just work from bulleted phrases? Do I use the slides as cues for what to say next? Should I run the presentation as first-chair? These are great questions! Fortunately, there are specific best-practices that answer each of these questions. For our litigation consultants and for our clients who go to trial often (1x/year+), many of these are second nature. For most, however, there will be a tip or two of very high-value below. Here are 10 best practices and tips for the period of time immediately before trial: 1. It should look like this when you are done. Put your politics aside for a second. The impeachment trial presentations were not the very best I've ever seen, but they were certainly good enough. If you use the trial presentation style from the impeachment trials, you are well on your way towards excellence. But, in particular, I want you to watch a minute or so of two videos and consider three elements: 1. How trial presentation notebooks are used; 2. Absolutely no use of a clicker; 3. The presentations complement what is being said and don't feel like a jarring interruption. Here is an example from each side of the impeachment trial. Watch about 60 seconds of each to see the presentation style.   2. The trial presentation notebook. I think a well-prepared trial presenter works toward (at a minimum) presenting in a way that looks like those trial lawyers above. They use PowerPoint and follow many best practices for doing so. See my four-part series on trial presentation lessons from the impeachment trial. In particular, however, note that each trial lawyer presents from a trial presentation notebook. Their arguments are written out, PowerPoint slides are integrated into the language in Word, and this is printed out and placed in a three-ring binder so that the presenter never gets lost. They read their statements for the most part, but they also connect with their audiences. The printed version of your trial presentation notebook should look a bit like this as you head to trial: As you can see, your demonstrative evidence and real evidence is integrated into your written opening. Also, pauses and reminders to the presenter are included in the text. It's great when a trial lawyer memorizes their opening, but I find this only really works AFTER the entire opening has been written word-for-word in full-text form. I would MUCH rather watch a presenter who is organized and polished who reads than one wings it and stumbles about. I find that after one practices their opening from the written version enough, one cannot help but memorize it. 3. First chair really should not run the presentation.  I know you like to be in control. I know you might want to go back and say something. However, if you have practiced enough, none of that will happen, and control doesn’t matter anymore. Hand over the clicker/laptop, and you get to look polished and prepared. Please see Trial Lawyers, Relinquish the Clicker. When you have your trial presentation notebook printed and ready to go, your trial technician (or a colleague) can simply follow along and control the presentation.

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I've written two articles recently about the impeachment proceedings, and after publishing each, someone has written to me and accused me of bias. With thousands of people reading these articles, this is to be expected, I suppose. Well, in these two bias accusations, I was accused once by the left and then next by the right. I'm proud of this fact, as this suggests I'm not actually demonstrating bias. In fact, I believe my political beliefs are not relevant in my role as CEO of A2L. We're not a political entity. So, I have to warn you, this article is not political, it is not about the content of the statements the presenters made, and it is also not really about the weight of the evidence on either side of the impeachment trial. It is, however, about who won the first day of trial presentations during the Senate impeachment trial — from a trial presentation best-practices standpoint. On this question, I thought the answer was clear.

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Over the past ten years, we have written about persuasive storytelling more than any other subject. There are dozens of A2L storytelling articles, e-books, and webinars on the topic. A2L's most popular CLE/presentation is called Storytelling for Trial Lawyers. I have presented it at dozens of major law firms, PLAC, DRI, and other conferences. The subject matter is always well received. The reason we publish and talk so much about storytelling is that trial lawyers increasingly understand that being a superb storyteller is essential for maximizing persuasion. More and more scientific studies confirm this each year, and I think most of us understand this instinctively. Storytelling is how humans have always shared information in a memorable and persuasive way. While many great trial lawyers are naturally great storytellers, I know from experience that anyone can learn to become a very good storyteller. It's a challenging thing to learn, but it is possible with practice.  In my talk on Storytelling for Trial Lawyers, I provide one framework for telling a great story known as the Pixar method. Every Pixar movie follows this format, and it works fantastically well for building an opening statement. I've written about Dan Pink discussing this topic in the past. However, that method that both Dan Pink and I speak about is actually culled from a list of 22 storytelling tips that a former Pixar employee published almost ten years ago. The original list can be found here, but I have modified that list to be trial lawyer-friendly and focused on the opening statement. In this form, I think it can serve as a useful checklist and guide for any trial lawyer preparing an opening statement. As we help other trial lawyers enhance their opening statements and opening trial presentations/litigation graphics, it is a tool that we use, and it works. I'd recommend coupling this list with some of our other publications about storytelling, especially some of these articles: Storytelling at Trial - Will Your Story Be Used? Portray Your Client As a Hero in 17 Easy Storytelling Steps Poor Litigation Character Development Will Yield Poor Results Are You Smarter Than a Soap Opera Writer? Ten Ways to Maximize Persuasive Courtroom Storytelling (Part One) A2L's 22 Rules for Litigation Storytelling in the Opening Statement - Adapted from Emma Coats' 22 Pixar Storytelling Rules Explain how the client tried and failed over and over. Keep in mind what’s interesting to the judge and jury, not what’s interesting to counsel. They can be very different. If you have a narrative and theme from the beginning great, but if you discover those along the way, go back and rewrite your opening statement with those in mind.

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Every year hundreds of thousands of people visit A2L's website and read litigation-focused articles on our blog. We have published more than 600 articles there since 2011, and the ABA and others have named it one of the top litigation blogs. Periodically we list articles that have been deemed our very best by you, our readers, based on readership. As long-time readers of The Litigation Consulting Report blog know, our articles typically focus on topics like: Using storytelling as a persuasion tool; Combining psychology and litigation graphics to influence decision-making; Maximizing results during voir dire and mock trials; and Utilizing trial technicians so that litigators can focus on connecting with the jurors and judges. Looking at A2L's top 10 articles from 2019, these topics are indeed covered, but it’s interesting to watch the trends in the most-read articles. Storytelling continues to be a very popular topic, but as you can see from the list below, so also are subjects like litigation graphics and jury consulting. Below are the top 10 articles A2L Consulting published during 2019. I encourage you to share this list with friends and on social media. Links to post to Twitter and LinkedIn in just two clicks are included: 1. One Demonstrative Exhibit, One Concept 2. Ten Ways to Maximize Persuasive Courtroom Storytelling (Part One)

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As both a leading jury consulting firm and a leading litigation graphics consulting firm, we can offer a unique perspective about the intersection of these two fields. A mock trial is frequently a part of A2L's jury consulting work. One aspect of designing and executing a valuable mock trial that I take particular interest in is the development of litigation graphics for both sides of the case. This litigation graphics presentation is typically created in PowerPoint and is designed to support the "clopening" argument for each side's case. If it is not apparent, the industry term "clopening" is a portmanteau of the words opening and closing. During an actual trial, argument is prohibited during an opening statement and reserved only for the closing statement. During a mock trial, the opening and closing statements are combined into a single event where a case is introduced, explained, and argued. A typical clopening argument is 1-2 hours long, and an average of 30-60 real and demonstrative evidence slides will be used to support the clopening argument. Just a few years ago, many jury consulting firms neglected to use and test visual presentations during a mock trial. For decades, we have explained the obvious importance of this testing and made a case for it in articles like: Why Litigation Graphics at Mock Trials Make Sense, Why You Should Pressure-Test Your Trial Graphics Well Before Trial, 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Mock Jury About Litigation Graphics, and Mock Trial Testing of Litigation Graphics AND Arguments. In my experience, the visual presentation is as important as the oral presentation during a mock trial. It aides in juror understanding, it speeds up the case considerably, it provides lessons to the litigation graphics team, and it makes for a more realistic simulation of the actual trial. See, Insist Your Litigation Graphics Consultant Attend Your Mock Trial. As is often the case for a trial, preparation for a mock trial is typically focused on the development of the initial presentation for the mock jurors. It's a sensible place to concentrate trial prep efforts as designing this presentation forces timely preparation of the legal arguments, the development of a well-honed narrative, and often the discovery of the best way to visually explain a case. Preparing these presentations for a mock trial is quite different from preparing for a courtroom trial, however. Whether you are a veteran trial lawyer or you are considering your first mock trial. These three tips below are useful for anyone planning a mock trial and have proven to be critical in the very best mock trials I have observed:

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5 Advanced Trial Lawyer Lessons

This month A2L Consulting celebrated its 24th anniversary! I'm proud to say that we are at the top of the jury consulting, litigation graphics, litigation consulting, and trial technology industry in most national polls. In honor of all those top trial lawyers who rely on us every day, I want to add value to your practice today with the unique content of this article.. These five mini-series-style articles are some of the best of our 600+ trial-focused articles, and there is just nothing else like them available anywhere. Each takes a deep dive into a specific trial-focused topic. Winning Before Trial focuses on actions one can take pre-trial to eliminate the need for a trial entirely. Throughout this series the importance of preparation is emphasized. In 24 years, there is no greater predictor of success at trial than the level of preparation for trial LONG in advance of trial. The article on persuasion during opening brings together some of our most important material. As an organization, we believe most cases are won or lost during the opening statement. This article is written with winning your opening in mind. The storytelling article builds on this concept as does the article focused on being a great expert witness. Finally, the article about the Reptile Trial Strategy is one of my favorites. This complex topic is tackled from the defense lawyer perspective. Without an understanding of this plaintiffs lawyer strategy, a defense lawyer experiencing a reptile attack for the first time will be overwhelmed by the strategy before they realize it's happening.   Top 5 A2L Mini-Series-Style Litigation Articles 1. 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements (4 Parts) 2. Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel (5 Parts)

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Top 10 Articles About Opening Statements

The opening statement is, in most trials, the most important part of the case. Here, biases are formed and overcome, attention levels will be at their highest, and up to 80% of jurors will make up their minds about who will win. Over three decades, A2L Consulting has supported the development of thousands of opening statements. It's where our trial-lawyer clients and we invest the most time and energy. Our work has typically included: the creation of persuasive PowerPoint presentations to accompany well-developed opening statements to; practicing and refining an opening statement 100+ times until it is perfectly delivered; testing versions of opening statements in a mock trial setting to help best plan the trial strategy. Our team is made up of trial lawyers, psychologists, litigation graphics artists, and hot-seaters. We see many of the world's best trial lawyers practice their craft on a regular basis. As I have always said and written about, Great Trial Lawyers Behave Differently. I often write about how their preparation is altogether different from an average litigator. When I do write about this topic, my goal is to cross-pollinate great techniques and ideas. This article is no different. I want to share some of what A2L has learned along the way both by watching great trial lawyers prepare for trial and by helping them do so. These best practices expressed in these top 10 articles/books/webinars about opening statements are unique. I hope you can put this information to use as you prepare for your next trial. How to Structure Your Next Speech, Opening Statement or Presentation 6 Reasons The Opening Statement is The Most Important Part of a Case 5 Things TED Talks Can Teach Us About Opening Statements

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Trial Lawyers: Only Do What Only You Can Do

"Only do what only you can do." My mentor throughout the 1990s and 2000s used to say this to me, and it was one of the best lessons a CEO with a fast-growing company could hear.  The message was, of course, to stop trying to do too much myself and let other people do their part. Don't micromanage. Don't rescue. Don't interfere. Don't hover. And do let people learn by doing - even if it means making (small) mistakes. The overall message was to delegate responsibly. Based on three decades of observing the world's best trial lawyers, I can confirm that the best trial lawyers are experts in delegation, whether they are first chair or fifth chair. However, many trial lawyers, particularly those with many members on a trial team, would benefit from better following the lead of the greats. The problems I've seen (and I bet you have too) are numerous. Because a trial lawyer can use PowerPoint, some insist on doing some or all of the litigation graphics. See, 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think. Because they've lived with the case for years, many trial lawyers are anxious about conducting a mock trial or asking for feedback on their planned narrative. See, 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams and The First Version of Your Story Is NOT Your Best.

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