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Sometimes I fear that my tips for trial lawyers might be perceived as self-serving. They're not, I promise, but I understand how someone could think that. Well, for at least for the duration of this article, don't take my word for it, please. Every day, we work with some of the world's best trial lawyers. I learn a lot from watching how the very best prepare for trial, and it is a pleasure to share what I witness with other great trial lawyers. Today, I'm presenting a collection of videos (some are from A2L clients, and some are not), trial presentation examples, sample litigation graphics, and other instances where trial lawyers and other great presenters lead by example. In this article, I'm not just asking you to accept what I say. I am asking you to watch your peers show or tell how to best persuade judges, jurors, and people in general. Here are twelve tips (really, there are hundreds of best practices embedded in here) from some of the world's best trial lawyers and presenters: Persuasive Storytelling Matters! Watch three accomplished trial lawyers explain why: https://www.a2lc.com/blog/three-top-trial-lawyers-tell-us-why-storytelling-at-trial-is-so-important Litigation Graphics should not be created by trial counsel - ever. These examples show why: https://www.a2lc.com/blog/excellent-litigation-graphics-in-the-impeachment-trial Litigation Graphics - It's no longer about reading bullet points. Jurors simply expect more!: https://www.a2lc.com/blog/still-think-persuasion-is-about-talking-while-showing-bullet-points-and-not-litigation-graphics Love him, hate him, respect him, disrespect him - whatever - this politician presents better than most trial lawyers (the linked articles are a trial lawyer presentation goldmine!): https://www.a2lc.com/blog/netanyahu-persuades-and-presents-better-than-most-trial-lawyers

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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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Finally. High-quality litigation graphics made an appearance at the impeachment trial. If you are a trial lawyer or you help trial lawyers, this article is a must-read, because it will help you see the future and help you persuade better. I've published three recent articles about the impeachment hearings/trial and the litigation graphics and technology used: 5 Litigation Graphics Lessons from the Impeachment Hearings Who Won the Impeachment Trial Initial Opening Statements? Impeachment Hearings Provide Trial Technology Lessons I thought those three articles would be my last on the subject, and then something impressive happened. Objectively effective litigation graphics were (finally) used on Day 6, and they offer a look into the future for all trial lawyers. The first five days of the impeachment trial left me feeling sad for those rare few of us who are experts in the art and science of litigation graphics. For the most part, the PowerPoints used were better than nothing but fell far short of maximizing persuasion (based on current persuasion science). They looked like what lawyers can create on their own, what you see at most trials, and what you see in most corporate conference rooms. They were ugly and flawed. Again, though, they were better than nothing. When defense counsel presented opening statements on Day 1 of the trial and used no visuals, I was confused. I know the background of some of these lawyers and have worked with some of them. I know they know better. It was disheartening.  And then came the opening defense arguments on Day 6, and finally, excellent litigation graphics made an appearance.  As I've said before, none of my articles are political in any way. I am only commenting on the quality of the litigation graphics presentations and technology used. I'm leaving the content entirely alone. Nevertheless, I know it's hard to separate the litigation graphics from the messenger if you feel strongly about one side or the other. But, if you are a trial lawyer, you really should be able to separate the two. The litigation graphics used on Day 6 were very good - both from a persuasion science standpoint and from an artistic standpoint. I appreciate the sophistication of them as they now can help me explain what good PowerPoint looks like (without getting into our presentations which are often sensitive or confidential). Let's discuss five key points and briefly discuss what you can learn from them. 1. These litigation graphics were more like a news graphic than a trial graphic. The national news industry is years ahead of most of the legal industry in creating memorable and persuasive graphics. I've written about this in articles like 10 Things Litigators Can Learn From Newscasters and Watch The Weather Channel Use Animation to Persuade.

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6 Articles Every Trial Lawyer Should Read

Last week I shared A2L's top 10 articles of the year based on the visits of our 10,000+ subscribers. In those articles, there are many valuable best practices, useful war stories, and litigation consultant expert tips for trial lawyers and the professionals who support trial lawyers — particularly if you are interested in storytelling, jury consultants, litigation graphics, or trial technology/using hot-seaters. However, for as valuable as I know these articles are, I think other articles were published over the last year or two that may have been overlooked for one reason or another — and they should not have been. Sometimes the title doesn’t capture the attention of our audience. Sometimes the timing of the release of a particular article is terrible. Sometimes the news of the day simply competes with our publication, The Litigation Consulting Report. So in that light, here are six articles that I think are really exceptional and useful for every trial lawyer. I believe that when read together, they will improve the performance of both veteran and new trial lawyers alike.  Here are six recent articles that every trial lawyer should read: Develop Your Trial Story – Sooner, Not Later: This article by veteran trial lawyer and senior litigation consultant, Alan Rudlin, explains clearly when one should develop their trial narrative. Obviously, the answer is suggested by the title, but hearing the rationale from such an experienced expert will help any trial lawyer prepare for trial more effectively. Great Trial Lawyers Behave Differently: Simply put, if the other 99% of trial lawyers really knew how the top 1% of trial lawyers prepare for trial, I believe the 99% would improve their trial prep. This article gets to the heart of the stark difference in trial preparation strategies. Netanyahu Persuades and Presents Better Than Most Trial Lawyers: While Netanyahu's fall from grace is noted, it takes nothing away from the fact that the PowerPoint presentation shown here was incredibly well executed. Every trial lawyer could learn something from it.

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I’ve been in the litigation graphics consulting business for 30 years. In that time, I’ve witnessed technology transitions from printed trial boards to laser disks to PowerPoint and much more. However, the most important transition I’ve seen involves a shift in belief. Top-tier trial lawyers who once viewed litigation graphics as optional now understand they are essential. Note that I say “understand” rather than “belief.” That’s because the need for high-quality and well-designed litigation graphics is rooted in science, not in a belief system. Study after study in the last 50 years authoritatively prove that litigation graphics are a requirement -- not a luxury -- for effective persuasion. Even after 30 years and thousands of cases, I genuinely love trying to figure out how to make a complex or boring case interesting and understandable while using the latest in persuasion science to convince the factfinder(s) that our position is correct. I’m passionate about this work, and I enjoy writing about it. Below are the fifteen articles that I think are a must-read for every trial lawyer (and the trial team members who support them) who is serious about persuading judges and juries. I’ve added a few bonus webinars and books after the list. Read these and the articles linked to from these articles, and you’ll be a near-expert in litigation graphics theory and visual persuasion. 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations

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For those of us in the persuasion business, the biggest stage in the world is currently on Capitol Hill. Last week, millions watched the start of this country’s fourth impeachment effort with interest and concern. Putting aside politics and the question of who is right and who is wrong, I'm professionally interested in how well the various involved parties are performing rhetorically, visually, and technically -- especially as it affects persuasion. In day one, I watched a classic mistake occur that offers lessons for trial lawyers and the teams who support them. Here, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a former prosecutor, questioned a witness and attempted to use video support his questioning. However, when he asked for the video to be played, probably in PowerPoint, there was no audio. He quickly adjusted and read the transcript, but it clearly flustered him. The relevant video is less than a minute long and should cue up to 5:09:45 if you hit play. The error is inexcusable in the modern era -- whether on Capitol Hill or in the courtroom. Like all errors of this sort, it was preventable through practice and preparation.  Technical problems happen. Great trial teams and litigation support firms are best judged in these moments. The best teams always practiced enough to anticipate such issues and the response to them. The best teams practice together until first chair and his or her trial technician/hot-seater have formed a bond that allows both to quickly overcome a technical problem.  We have written extensively about how to prepare with your hot-seater for the best results, how to practice and prepare properly for trial, and how to avoid a technical snafu in the first place: Why Rapport Between a Trial Lawyer and a Trial Technician is So Important 10 Timely Tips For Trial Preparation The #1 Reason Top Trial Teams Keep Winning What Does Using a Trial Technician or Hot-Seater Cost? Free E-Book Download: How to Find and Engage the Best Trial Technician Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics Will using a trial technician make me look too slick and high-tech? Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well A video of George Zimmerman's lawyers taking a do-it-yourself approach 12 ways to avoid a Superbowl-style tech failure See a video of a trial technician in action 12 Tips to Hire the Right Trial Technician for Your Trial 5 Trial Director Tips for great presentations 6 ways to use video depositions Sample One-Year Trial Prep Calendar for High Stakes Cases In the modern courtroom, trial technicians/hot-seaters are outfitted with redundant technology and have practiced sufficiently with first-chair so that such issues have been anticipated and planned for. A Capitol Hill hearing is a lot like a courtroom -- you only get one try to get it right. Prepare sufficiently or you can damage your credibility and persuasive ability with a simple and avoidable technical problem.

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The Top 10 Litigation Articles of 2018

It's my eighth year writing an end-of-year top-10 style article. That feels pretty great because in that time, we have published more than 600 articles and A2L's Litigation Consulting Report blog has been visited one million times. Wow, right?

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A couple of years ago, I was involved in running a genetics conference focused on using genetics as a defense tactic in civil cases, much in the way that DNA evidence is used in criminal cases. I've been working with experts in this field ever since. A few months back, I wrote an article about the clever use by plaintiffs of litigation graphics and genetics in the baby powder (talc) cases (see Some Lessons for Defendants From the Talc Liability Trials), including a $4 billion verdict against a major talc manufacturer. When I write about various types of cases, I often hear from lawyers who handle the types of cases I write about. On my post on the use of genetics evidence in the talc litigation, how many talc defense lawyers do you think I heard from? If you guessed zero, you'd be exactly right. And that's a problem. Not ready to accept that this is a problem for defendants? Then I will ask whether the plaintiffs’ talc bar was similarly unresponsive. As you can probably guess from the way I posed the question, the answer is no. Out of discretion, I won't say exactly who or how many responded, but it was more than zero. Even though there is more to gain for the defense bar from understanding and leveraging these critical tools, it’s the plaintiffs’ lawyers who are most active in the field, striving to improve their approach. From the defense bar — crickets. And that's the problem I'm seeing in the way some of these talc cases are being defended. Defense counsel appear to be playing defense – and completely ignoring the key point that the best defense in litigation is a good offense. These verdicts are having an impact on the companies involved. Last Friday, on December 14, 2018, shares of Johnson & Johnson fell 10 percent and were set to have their largest percentage drop in more than 16 years, after Reuters reported that the company knew for decades that there was some asbestos in its baby powder. Yesterday, December 18, 2018, Johnson and Johnson ran the full page ad seen here in an attempt to manage this growing crisis. For trial lawyers and litigation consulting firms like ours, these asbestos allegations are not new or surprising. It's what plaintiff's have alleged recently and have used to prevail in these cases. The surprising thing in these cases is defense counsel's unnecessarily passive approach. When products are accused of causing harm, defense lawyers often choose one of the following defense strategies: Assert the harm was caused by something else but we don’t know what (the “idiopathic” defense) Assert the harm was caused by something else and we know exactly what. Typically, most defendants have chosen the ‘we don’t know what other thing caused it’ strategy because it avoids giving up the favorable allocation of the burden of proof and assuming the very specific (and often difficult) burden of proving an alternative cause – much as criminal defendants take advantage of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Not surprisingly, this argument generally falls flat. Recently, the plaintiffs’ bar won a multi-billion-dollar verdict by asserting that there is asbestos in talc and that it causes mesothelioma. This is highly improbable for several logical reasons — but jurors tend to follow emotion first and logic second when deliberating. If asbestos is present in baby powder at all, it would be in such small amounts that one could not reasonably connect mesothelioma to it. If defense counsel asserts (as they have been) that the mesothelioma was caused by some other identified source of asbestos, and not by talc, that leaves jurors without the necessary tools to argue for a defense verdict during deliberations. So, what if defense counsel could instead prove that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma was caused by something other than asbestos in baby powder? Something identifiable, measurable, and specific. Using modern genetics, this is now possible. And it is a major sea change.

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