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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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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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The science around repetition is well settled, and I've always found it a little disturbing. For all the advanced degrees, experience with thousands of cases, and the wisdom litigation consultants like us have to share about maximizing persuasion at trial; the truth is one of the easiest ways to increase persuasion at trial is simply to repeat yourself - a lot. It is a technique used by politicians and trial lawyers alike. However, I think the political climate of the last few years has shown us that there are few upward limits on the number of times one can repeat themselves before it feels uncomfortable. And it works. Politicians on all sides and people of all political beliefs make false assertions, these assertions are repeated and amplified by social media, and over time, people come to believe them. This has happened for thousands of years. It's just much more accelerated now, so it feels new. The last ten years brought us this social media multiplier effect. Now, repetition comes fast and from seemingly independent sources - both factors that increase persuasion. Furthermore, assertions are often presented in a meme-like format, and the easier an assertion is to process, the more likely someone is to be persuaded by it. That's why short and simple quips frequently repeated are far more persuasive than a well-reasoned lecture delivered once.

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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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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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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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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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