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A very close friend just asked me what we do at A2L Consulting. Last week, a 30-year colleague and client remarked that he didn’t realize that half of our business involved jury consulting. Last night, a high-profile trial lawyer kindly complimented our firm while speaking to a group -- but called the company by its former name of 10 years ago. It’s my job to explain to people who we are and what we do, and some of the people closest to me don’t understand what we do as litigation consultants at A2L Consulting. Clearly, I am doing something wrong. The purpose of this article is to provide a detailed overview of the work we do as litigation consultants. Still, it will also educate anyone involved in trying cases about best practices in specific areas of trial preparation and trial practice. The Big Picture Our firm was one of the first (if not the very first) to call itself a Litigation Consulting firm back in the mid-1990s. At a 30,000 foot level, litigation consultants like A2L are hired by top trial lawyers and large corporate legal departments to help increase the odds of winning a particular case. We help increase the odds of winning a particular case by: testing and refining cases during a mock trial and jury consulting process by soliciting and measuring feedback from mock jurors and mock judges; helping to refine the narrative and key arguments to be delivered at trial through our peer-to-peer litigation consulting process. This litigation consulting process often includes multiple rounds of practice, particularly of the opening statement; designing litigation graphics presentations rooted in persuasion psychology that help judges and jurors both understand our cases and help to persuade those same fact-finders to take our side in the case; and using highly trained hot-seat operators (trial technicians) to display electronic evidence on the fly and leave the trial attorney in a position to connect with judge and jury; I call these four areas, jury consulting, litigation consulting, litigation graphics consulting, and trial technology consulting. Collectively, I call them all litigation consulting. Within each category, there are MANY sub-services. Below is an overview with linked articles that explain each of these four areas in more detail and offer best practices. If you are in the business of trying cases, there is a lot of value here for you in the materials below.

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The Top 100 Litigation Articles

Today, we are celebrating you - our subscribers -  because we have reached a new milestone - 10,000 subscribers to this blog! To celebrate, we are releasing the list below for the very first time - A2L Consulting's Top 100 Articles of All Time. We started this publication in 2011 against my best instincts, and I delight daily in how wrong I was. Now, almost 700 articles later, being named a top blog by the ABA, and after millions of visits to our site and The Litigation Consulting Report blog (free subscription here), I now understand that we filled a significant void.  It turns out that those seeking to persuade, inside the courtroom or elsewhere, really did not have an excellent place to go and learn about persuasion science. They certainly don't teach storytelling for persuasion in law school, and the intricacies of demonstrative evidence/visual aids are too much for any one lawyer to master (while trying cases). So, I'm proud that so many have enjoyed these articles about storytelling, voir dire, jury consulting, litigation graphics, trial technology, persuasion, and much much more. These articles are ranked by the number of visits to the article. Some have been read hundreds of thousands of times. I hope you will keep reading our old and new articles, and feel free to share a free subscription with a friend. A2L Consulting's Top 100 Articles of All Time 5 Questions to Ask in Voir Dire . . . Always The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses 10 Ways to Spot Your Jury Foreman Lists of Analogies, Metaphors and Idioms for Lawyers 14 Tips for Delivering a Great Board Meeting Presentation 15 Tips for Great Customer Service from the Restaurant Industry The 50 Best Twitter Accounts to Follow for Lawyers and Litigators The Top 10 TED Talks for Lawyers, Litigators and Litigation Support The Top 5 Qualities of a Good Lawyer 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere) 15 Fascinating Legal and Litigation Infographics 4 Ways That Juries Award Damages in Civil Cases 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint

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My Facebook feed lit up this week after the passing of 67-year-old drummer Neil Peart of the band Rush. Suddenly, mild-mannered middle-aged friends were pouring their hearts out over the loss of a drummer who was at the height of his popularity some 35 years ago. For many of my friends and indeed for me (someone who likes playing drums but is not particularly liked by others when he plays), he was the best of the best - the G.O.A.T of the drumming world. Neil Peart forever changed the way other drummers performed and even thought about how to approach a drum set. Why should trial lawyers (who didn't happen to come of age in suburban America or Canada in the early 1980s) care at all? A quote in Peart's Rolling Stone obituary is what jumped out at me because it demonstrates a way of thinking that is useful for trial lawyers and drummers alike:  “What is a master but a master student?” Peart told Rolling Stone in 2012. “There’s a responsibility on you to keep getting better.” Here, Peart was talking about why he started working with a drum coach/instructor relatively late in his career -- even after he was widely considered the best drummer in the world. To people who work with the world's best anything, whether that's athletes, actors, or trial lawyers, this kind of thinking is not surprising. In our field, rules of professional responsibility speak to this concept of continuous improvement, but I don't think that's why the very best push themselves to be better. The reasoning for why is circular, but I think it's true: the best are the best because they seek feedback about how to be the best, and this loop never ends. When the best trial lawyers in the world (and those who aspire to be) work with A2L (or someone like us), they benefit not just from jury consulting and litigation graphics services, but they also benefit from working with similarly accomplished trial lawyers called litigation consultants -- a term we first started using in the 1990s. We have written about this concept of trial lawyers supporting other trial lawyers in articles like: Your Coach Is Not Better Than You – in the Courtroom or Elsewhere 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well When Peart wrote the obituary for his coach, he paraphrased a foundational message from his coach, and that message rang very familiar to me. It sounds a lot like the message the trial lawyers on our team deliver to other trial lawyers who hire us. "You've been doing what you do for a long time, so it obviously works. Don't mess with that. Consider my suggestions as options." And there it is -- firms like ours and people like us present already successful trial lawyers with options. It's part of the reason those trial lawyers outperform their peers. Whether an athlete, musician, or litigator, if you seek to be the best, seek and listen to options. It's what the very best always do. Here is a good Neil Peart tribute piece that already has millions of views on YouTube:   Other A2L articles and free resources about storytelling, coaching, and litigation consulting include: Great Trial Lawyers Behave Differently The First Version of Your Story Is NOT Your Best 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 Develop Your Trial Story – Sooner, Not Later 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 FREE DOWNLOAD: Storytelling for Persuasion - 144-page complimentary book The Very Best Use of Coaches in Trial Preparation 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation $300 Million of Litigation Consulting and Storytelling Validation RECORDING STORYTELLING WEBINAR Conflict check: Be the first to retain A2L

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The #1 Reason Top Trial Teams Keep Winning

The very best trial teams in the world have only one real secret for success. Like many of life's foundational principles, it's painfully simple to describe, but it’s painfully hard to execute. The winning secret of the very best trial teams is, simply, preparation. Of course, I'm not talking about the everyday kind of trial preparation that goes on a few weeks or a month before trial. I'm talking about a level of trial preparation that is so best-in-class that it separates America's extraordinary trial teams from merely great trial teams. Perhaps 1% of all trial teams function the way I'm about to describe. After three decades of supporting, coaching, and learning from the top 1%, I promise nothing else is more correlated with winning than preparation— not good facts, good law, a friendly judge, a smiling jury -- nothing. Just as a world record-holding athletes prepare at a level that far exceeds what professional athletes do, the same is true for world-class trial lawyers. In the last 30 years, I've seen behaviors like:

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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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Top 10 Articles About Mock Trials

Our team has planned and conducted more than 500 mock trials over the past thirty years. In that time, we have noticed striking similarities in the way jurors behave. We have noticed that a trial team can radically increase the amount of valuable information they mine from a mock trial just by following a few best practices. We have seen over and over that a well-executed mock trial is the most valuable form of pre-trial preparation a trial team can do. In these ten articles listed below (our top ten all-time articles on the subject), we reveal many of A2L's best practices and insider observations. Whether you are planning a mock trial or just preparing for trial, the lessons from these articles are valuable and actionable. A mock trial is designed to mimic many aspects of an upcoming trial. The overall goal is to learn what motivates jurors, especially those similar to the likely jury, to view our side of the case in the best possible light. Many people mistakenly believe that a mock trial is designed to simulate an upcoming trial in order to predict the outcome. While there is certainly a predictive element, one cannot reliably simulate a two-month or even a two-week trial in two days. Instead, the highest value takeaways from a mock trial come from watching jurors deliberate, looking at the data behind the their decision making revealed by polling, preparing one's trial presentation earlier than one might naturally do so, getting into the mind of opposing counsel by arguing their case, and just getting some excellent practice in the run-up to trial. In a typical mock trial, 100 or more jurors may be recruited. Often a voir dire-like exercise is built into the mock and 36-48 jurors may be selected and broken into three or four juries who will deliberate separately. When a mock trial is deemed premature or the costs of conducting one do not match the dollars at stake in a case, we are often asked to conduct a smaller-scale exercise called a focus group (see How Early-Stage Focus Groups Can Help Your Trial Preparation) where a fewer jurors are used, and the format is more dialog oriented. I hope you enjoy these articles. Taken together, they offer an excellent primer on how and why to conduct a mock trial for the best possible result. 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said  12 Astute Tips for Meaningful Mock Trials

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Great trial lawyers are paid to tell stories for a living. Typically, one side’s recitation of a story is more persuasive than the other – even when both sides are drawing on the same set of facts. But why? Is it the charisma of the trial lawyer? Is it the way the story is told by both sides? Is it the deployment of superior litigation graphics by one side?  Well, it’s all these things – and more. Our litigation consulting firm is often engaged to help top trial lawyers tell their stories in the most persuasive way possible. We do this by applying the latest findings of persuasion science and sharing the wisdom that we inherit by routinely observing the world’s very best trial lawyers. This article is the first in a series of four articles. My goal in this series is to reveal some of the tricks of the persuasive storytelling trade in one place for the busy trial lawyer. I hope that these recommendations can serve as a pretrial checklist for anyone who wants to draft an opening statement. A2L’s litigation consultants have published dozens of articles about storytelling, and we’ve released books and webinars on the subject. These ten tips represent the essence of what we have learned and of what we have taught. If you apply these ten suggestions when developing your story for trial, your story will be more persuasive, and you will radically increase your chances of winning your case. Tip #1. There must be a story. You should present a story, and it should follow the basic guidelines of storytelling. That is, there should be a beginning, middle, and end, and there should be storylines and human characters that your factfinders care about. Research tells us that human beings automatically make stories out of virtually all life events to gain a sense of control, even if it’s a false sense. It’s the difference between collecting bare facts and interpreting them in a coherent manner. Most people can’t resist making assumptions, drawing inferences, and imposing upon the facts what they “mean” rather than merely accepting information as is. Most of what people discuss in their social lives are stories and gossip – not random facts. Since we know that your jury will be using a story to sort out your litigation facts in order to reach its results, whose story do you want the jurors using -- one they’ve made up, one provided by opposing counsel, or yours? If we now think about how one might tell a story in an opening statement, below is a model for telling such a persuasive story. This example comes from a trial that ultimately derived from the financial crisis of the last half of the decade of the 2000s, where the issue was whether a bank could be held liable to its shareholders for bad real estate investments that the bank made.  Introduction: I like to start with the statement of some fundamental truths and an introduction of the characters like, “Banks survive on greed - it's how they make money. When they make good loans, they make money. When they make bad loans, they lose money. These bankers are essentially being accused of making bad loans, which to be true would have to mean, they were not trying to make money. When is the last time you heard of bankers not trying to make money? It makes no sense.”

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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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