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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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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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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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There are many situations outside of trial where lawyers find themselves in a courtroom or courtroom-like environment. Some examples include a mock trial, a pretrial hearing, an arbitration, a mediation, or an administrative hearing. Some of these situations are a lot like trial, yet I find many litigators don’t treat them like a trial. I think they should. One such example whose lesson applies broadly to almost any trial attorney is a relatively new type of administrative hearing that occurs every day at the Patent & Trademark Office. It’s called an inter partes review hearing (IPR). And if you think this article applies only to patent litigators, you’re wrong. This type of hearing has lessons for all trial attorneys. The work that patent litigators do is almost always complex. Over the past 24 years at A2L, roughly 40 percent of our work has involved patent litigation. That makes sense because the work of A2L is perfectly suited to patent litigation. We have three primary services: conducting mock trials and jury research, simplifying complex information with litigation graphics and expert storytelling, and using trial technology to quickly convey information to the factfinder. Patent litigators, after all, need to convey complicated information in a jury-friendly way. It needs to be understandable and persuasive and needs to tell a story that people will care about, a story that must be delivered in a winning manner. That’s why as far back as the 1990s, it has been patent litigators whom A2L worked with most often. In 2009, the America Invents Act (AIA) fundamentally changed the way in which patent cases are tried. The act allows for, among other things, something of a shortcut method to challenge the validity of a patent via a hearing at the Patent and Trademark office. There are judges and there is vigorous opposition from opposing counsel. But what’s missing here compared with most patent trials -- professionally prepared litigation graphics, a clear and compelling story, and an effort to highlight only the important information in the oral presentation. See 5 Tips For Inter Partes Review Hearing Presentations at the PTO. I heard a quote from Judge Learned Hand recently that underscores this last point: With the courage which only comes of justified self-confidence, he dared to rest his case upon its strongest point, and so avoided that appearance of weakness and uncertainty which comes of a clutter of arguments. Few lawyers are willing to do this; it is the mark of the most distinguished talent. If you want to see 100+ bullet point-ridden slides with trial counsel reading from them (see How Many PowerPoint Slides Should You Use in a Typical Trial? and 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations), this venue is all too often the place to find them. Considering the material and what is at stake, this is pure self-sabotage on behalf of a legal team. Patent lawyers generally do well at trial working with A2L, but for some reason, many have reverted to the behaviors of the 1980s and 1990s in this venue.  Of course, I notice this in all sorts of venues, unfortunately, and I want to raise awareness for both trial counsel and clients in all areas. The science is well settled on why litigation graphics are necessary - even in a bench trial environment. See 6 Studies That Support Litigation Graphics in Courtroom Presentations. The same is true for telling a compelling story and doing that efficiently. I have heard this sentiment from judges and practitioners alike. One veteran patent litigator, Rob Mattson of the Oblon law firm, spoke to me about IPRs, “These cases are similar to a summary judgment hearing, and the judges want to understand the technology and what is in dispute as efficiently as possible. Getting the litigation graphics right here is just as important as in trial, although there may only be 20 key slides instead of 80.” I believe that this is a broad lesson that goes well beyond the inter partes review hearing. Consider some of these articles on each of these areas and how they might apply to what you present to your fact-finder. Presenting in arbitration/mediation Presenting in international arbitration Presenting in inter partes review hearings 14 Places Your Colleagues Are Using Persuasive Graphics (That Maybe You're Not) Presenting in class certification hearings Presenting in Markman hearings Presenting at the ITC Presenting in mock trials

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Dr. David Schwartz is a founding partner of Innovative Science Solutions, LLC (ISS), a scientific consulting firm specializing in helping legal teams prevail in high-stakes litigation involving complex scientific principles. Dr. Schwartz has served as a consulting scientist to the legal industry for over 25 years and has provided support to cases involving environmental and occupational exposures, radiation, drugs, medical devices, dietary supplements, cosmetics, industrial chemicals. But over the course of the past several years, Dr. Schwartz has focused on the role of genetics as an alternative cause in toxic tort litigation. As part of a strategic alliance, ToxicoGenomica, Dr. Schwartz and other ISS consultants have been providing consulting support on asbestos and talc cases focusing on genetic evidence as an alternative cause of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. In 2017, Dr. Schwartz (ISS), myself (A2L), and others co-hosted a pioneering conference on the subject of the role of genetics in civil litigation. Now two years later, I sat down with Dr. Schwartz to get a better understanding of how genetic science has evolved since then and how it is likely to change the way toxic tort cases will be litigated in the near future, specifically in talc and asbestos cases. Q: Give us a quick summary as to how genomic science will change toxic tort litigation. A: Modern medicine is advancing from broad-based treatment based on randomized controlled clinical trials to “precision medicine” where treatment is tailored to individual patients based on their genetic profile. Similarly, toxic tort litigation has been based on so-called black-box epidemiology studying large groups of people and trying to determine risk. We are bringing the field up to date by applying the tools of precision medicine to evaluate risk in toxic tort litigation. With genomics, we can directly ask if a person was born with genes that predispose them to develop a disease (like mesothelioma) instead of relying on statistical inferences from large populations. This is a watershed moment in toxic tort litigation. Q: Talc litigation is heating up. Last I read, there were 14,000 claims filed related to talc. Do you think genetic science has a role in talc litigation? A: Absolutely! Genetics provides a medically sound alternative cause argument no matter what the alleged injury: mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, lymphoma, autism. These conditions are all known to have well-established genetic underpinnings. If a defense lawyer can demonstrate that a plaintiff had a specific set of genetic factors, then it is legitimate to make the argument that the condition was caused by those factors. Q: What is a genetic mutation? A: A mutation, also referred to as a variant, is an error in the sequence of a gene that could drive specific types of cancer. A gene can have hundreds or thousands of different types of mutations. Some mutations have no known effect on a person’s life, while others will drive the onset of cancer. Q: If genomic testing is already being used in precision medicine, has that information ever been used for litigation purposes? A: Yes. Sometimes the genetic analysis at a hospital can be very informative. That’s especially true for cancer treatment at excellent cancer hospitals. Having the capability to review plaintiffs’ medical records for relevant genetic evidence will be a core skill set moving forward.

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The traditional way for trial lawyers to prepare for a new case is pretty straightforward. The first step is to get one’s arms around the basic facts of the case – to understand the facts and the timeline of the case in depth. The second step is to ask oneself what the ideal resolution of these facts would be: What would the client want a fact finder to conclude? The third step is to begin to fit the facts into legal frameworks or algorithms that accord with the client’s view of the case. Often, however, lawyers take these steps, and then, when they are close to trial, probably too close to trial, they begin to ask themselves how a jury would likely view the case that they are putting together. This is the wrong time to ask that question. The right time is much earlier than most trial lawyers think. The story is told of a famous trial lawyer who is walking down the broad front steps of a courthouse. He encounters a younger lawyer walking up those same steps, laden down with piles of books in each arm and obviously feeling the weight. The older lawyer says to the younger one, “Son, what you need is a story.”

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10 Timely Tips For Trial Preparation

Working at A2L, I have the distinct pleasure of watching many of the world's best trial lawyers prepare for trial. Most start months or years in advance. Those lawyers engage A2L early to do theme testing with a focus group or to organize and run a mock trial. Each of these events requires the creation of litigation graphics and usually assistance in developing an opening statement. Having watched so many great trial lawyers prepare for 25 years, I have been able to observe patterns in how they prepare. Below I share ten chronologically ordered tips (plus accompanying resources) based on these observations. If you're less than one year from trial, I hope these tips are still helpful, and I hope you will get in touch with me. More than one year from trial: There is no better time to do theme testing then when discovery is still open. Read more in How Early-Stage Focus Groups Can Help Your Trial Preparation and as you start this journey, always remember that Great Trial Lawyers Behave Differently. One year before trial: Plan your first of two mock trials. There are dozens of good reasons to conduct a mock trial, but forcing yourself to prepare early may be the very best one. Read my one-year trial planning guide and read A2L's Opening Statement Toolkit. Also, it is a good time to read A2L's Jury Consulting and Mock Trial Handbook. Nine months before trial: Begin or continue development of your litigation graphics. If you conducted a mock trial, you already have a good start. Read How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?, 10 Reasons The Litigation Graphics You DO NOT Use Are Important and The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation. Six months before trial: Refine your opening statement story and the visuals that will support it. Make sure your experts have their visuals being worked on by your litigation graphics team - not the in-house people at the expert's firm. Watch Persuasive Storytelling for Trial Lawyers and read Storytelling for Litigators. To help develop your experts, have them read this three-part series on How to Be a Great Expert Witness. Three months before trial: Conduct opening statement practice sessions with your trial team, litigation consultants, and your client. Read The First Version of Your Story Is NOT Your Best, 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation, and Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well.

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I'm very fortunate to have a lot of friends, and I often end up telling the same story more than once in order to catch people up on what’s going on in my business and personal lives. Sometimes it’s just out of friendship. Sometimes I want to hear my friend’s opinion. Sometimes I want to persuade. Since I’m also in the business of professional storytelling -- or at least in the business of helping others tell their stories in the most professional and persuasive way possible -- I pay attention to how I tell a story. I especially notice how the story evolves as I tell it for the third, fifth, or 20th time.  Because it ALWAYS evolves. Sometimes the story changes because I have new insights. Sometimes it changes because of how it seemed to affect the last person I told it to. Sometimes it changes because of direct feedback or insight from my friend or adviser. May 2019 was an unusual month, in which a variety of major things happened personally and professionally. In fact, so many things happened at once that I needed to lean hard on my various advisers for good advice and wisdom. After a month that involved a great many consultations, everything got better, and I noticed something about that process. With each new retelling of events, I noticed how I automatically refined my story to more easily inform my listeners. I automatically changed the order of how I presented facts so that they flowed better. I found that I had injected appropriate humor. My stories seemed to be effective. They even caused some people to take some action in parts of their personal and professional lives just because they heard them (aka persuasion). Hopefully, you see where I am going with this when it comes to our work with trial lawyers. It's NEVER your first story that sings. Refining your story requires constant interaction and dialogue with others. That's why I will never understand the trial lawyer who writes their opening statement the night before trial or the trial lawyer who refuses to do a mock trial. In 25 years of doing this work, I have learned without qualification that the very best trial lawyers want their answers questioned. They do the mock. They conduct practice sessions. They invite critiques. They are the best precisely because they do this. Practice and preparation are what separates the good from the great -- not the law school they went to, not the firm they work for, and not even the innate ability to connect with a jury. Other A2L articles about storytelling, visual storytelling, persuasion, trial prep, mock trials and practice include: Great Trial Lawyers Behave Differently 50 Characteristics of Top Trial Teams 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation 9 Things In-House Counsel Say About Outside Litigation Counsel Dan Pink, Pixar, and Storytelling for the Courtroom Practice is a Crucial Piece of the Storytelling Puzzle Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation Your Coach Is Not Better Than You – in the Courtroom or Elsewhere What Steve Jobs Can Teach Trial Lawyers About Trial Preparation 6 Ways to Use a Mock Trial to Develop Your Opening Statement 21 Reasons a Litigator Is Your Best Litigation Graphics Consultant Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well 7 Things In-House Misses When Litigation Consultants are Underutilized The 5 Very Best Reasons to Conduct a Mock Trial FREE DOWNLOAD: Storytelling for Persuasion - 144-page complimentary book 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said The Very Best Use of Coaches in Trial Preparation Why Do I Need A Mock Trial If There Is No Real Voir Dire? 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Mock Jury About Litigation Graphics 11 Problems with Mock Trials and How to Avoid Them 12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials Trending: Mock Trial Testing of Litigation Graphics AND Arguments 10 Suggestions for Conducting Mock Bench Trial Consulting Exercises Mock Trials: Do They Work? Are They Valuable? 11 Surprising Areas Where We Are Using Mock Exercises and Testing $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation Conflict check: Be the first to retain A2L

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