Developing Graphics for Litigation? Ask Yourself This Question….

I was recently working on a case with a long time client, when this question popped into my head: Why does this matter?

We were assembling case themes, and subsequent graphics, for his opening presentation and struggling to condense his 55-slide presentation to conform to a 45 minute time limit.  This client is a well-respected orator, so I had no worries that he would be able to persuade the audience with his dialogue, but I was genuinely concerned that he would overwhelm them with his dense visual presentation. As I culled through the slides, trying to find materials that I could cut, I kept asking myself the same question over and over again: Why does this matter?

Knowing that we had to cut this presentation in order to not overwhelm the jury, as well as get our point across, our goal was to strategically eliminate slides that didn’t hold up to the scrutiny of this imperative question.  We have to remember, that our opening presentation isn’t the time to put on our entire case, but rather provide a road map of why were are here, where we are going and how we are going to get there.  These three questions can easily be answered in less than an hour, through engaging your audience with a mix of an oratory and carefully selected visuals.

If the answer to this question is glaringly evident, particularly with your opening presentation, then most likely need to cut whatever it is you’re looking and save it for later, or not at all.  Remember: our goal in opening is to simply lay the foundation of our story in an abbreviated time frame.

It’s no coincidence that as I’m writing this article, a client (partner at a large NYC law firm) emailed regarding a current matter we are working on.  He had reviewed the presentation, created by two associates, and commented “we need to cut this down; the jury will be asleep in under 20 minutes.”  He knew what his associates should have been asking from the start, and if they did, could have saved valuable time, and money, as trial quickly approached.

 

Why does this graphic matter?  Because it combines three case themes, represents critical data and has an immediately recognized takeaway.

So, the next time you are creating your visual presentation for trial, arbitration, meditation or a hearing, don’t forget to ask: Why does this matter?

If you need assistance with this imperative question, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or at DMykel@VisuaLexLLC.com

 

16 Litigation Graphics Lessons for Mid-Sized Law Firms

litigation graphics mid size law firm

by Ken Lopez
Founder/CEO
A2L Consulting

Over the past three decades, law firms have figured out that litigation best practices include the extensive use of visual aids, the regular use of a trial technician to manage electronic evidence at trial, and the value of conducting one or more mock exercises. Each of these practice areas has developed in response to specific problems that exist in bench and jury trials alike, and there is an art and science (and about a $250 million industry) that exists around litigation consulting.

So, as more large litigation is pushed into midsize firms as a cost containment measure, I notice something interesting. Most midsized firms just don’t know how to use litigation consultants, and what might look like cost savings is going to yield troublesome results later. After all, we figured all of these problems out once in the 1990s, and an industry exists to provide solutions.

So in the spirit of offering the midsized firm, or frankly any firm that is not an AmLaw 50 firm, a solid primer on what’s been learned these past 20 years, I offer the following 16 lessons:

1. Using Litigation Graphics Yields Better Results: It’s beyond “broad scientific consensus,” it’s just a fact, Litigation graphics provide better results. This recent 2013 study on the effect of visual evidence on juries [PDF] does a good job of summarizing the science of litigation graphics.

Read more here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/69374/16-Litigation-Graphics-Lessons-for-Mid-Sized-Law-Firms

24 Mistakes That Make For a DeMONSTERative Evidence Nightmare

Posted by Ken Lopez

demontrative evidence demonsterative halloween demonsteritive evidence

Demonstrative evidence is a general term for evidence introduced in litigation that is neither spoken testimony nor “real” evidence like an actual murder weapon. Demonstrative evidence is introduced in order to make evidence and facts in a case easier for the judge or jury to understand.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

  1. Waiting until it is too late. From the very beginning, plan your case with an eye toward its presentation to a jury. See our article on using a dual-track strategy in trial preparation.
  2. Cheating on your charts. There are many ways to lie using charts, including axis changes, using logarithmic scales, cherry picking data, and much more. These “black-hat” techniques are not only inappropriate but if you get caught, they are likely to draw sanctions or worse.

Read more here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/60819/24-Mistakes-That-Make-For-a-DeMONSTERative-Evidence-Nightmare

How Does the Modality Effect Play a Role in Litigation Graphics?

Here’s a great article, recommended from a colleague, about how the modality effect works in multimedia learning.  If you’re a litigator in the 21st century, this is a must read.

Abstract:

The modality effect is a central issue in multimedia learning [see Mayer (Cambridge University Press, 2005a), for a review]. Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory (CLT), for example, presumes that an illustrated text is better understood when presented visually rather than orally.

This article also widens the scope of the analysis of moderator variables (e.g. Pace of presentation, Type of visualization, Research group) as well as their potentially confounded effects. Finally, it is argued that, for theoretical reasons, the so-called modality effect cannot be based on Penney’s or Baddeley’s theories and must be explained in a different way.

See the entire article here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10936-011-9180-4

Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

Simplify and Emphasize in Litigation Graphics

By

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In oral argument, a litigator has very limited time—she needs to hit the high points and move on. She must communicate enough information to convince the judge or jury of her argument, yet must avoid getting mired in details that will only confuse.

Good litigation graphics can counter this time crunch by allowing an attorney to communicate clearly and quickly. The adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” reflects the truth that our brains quickly process and understand images.

To support an argument, graphics should be tightly tied to the key points of the advocate’s message.

Read more here:

http://cogentlegal.com/blog/2013/10/simplify-emphasize-in-litigation-graphics/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CogentLegalBlog+%28Cogent+Legal+Blog%29

Witness Tip: Anxiety is the #1 Barrier Affecting Communication

By Merrie Jo Pitera, Ph.D.

There are communication stumbling blocks to any public speaking event, be it speaking in front of a group of people or testifying during deposition or at trial. Each comes with its own level of stress and anxiety for anyone and for a variety of reasons. Understanding the source of a person’s anxiety can help a witness begin to keep his fears at bay (they really never go away) and focus on the content of his testimony. The potential sources for anxiety listed below are certainly common

Read more here:

http://www.litigationinsights.com/witness-preparation-2/witness-tip-anxiety-is-the-1-barrier-affecting-communication/

Don’t Use PowerPoint as a Crutch in Trial or Anywhere

by Ryan H. Flax

The goal of a presentation is always the same — to engage the audience, to move them.  This rule of thumb holds true regardless of the stage. It’s so in the courtroom, on the floor of the U.S. Congress, in the boardroom, and in the classroom. Litigators engage a jury to win their case for their client; professors engage their students so that they can best teach the subject matter. Engagement leads to better understanding, which then leads to better retention and enhanced persuasiveness. Retention and understanding are the keys to success.

As a student of presentation technique, I was especially lucky over the last summer to have two terrific sources of experiential information on the subject and a good deal of insight in to what works and what does not.  My sources were Ms. Shawn Estrada and Ms. Jessica Dunaye, two of our summer interns at A2L, who have some pretty specific thoughts about presentation style after having sat through over 2,000 lectures from many, many professors and students throughout their college careers. After having spent a summer with A2L, learning first-hand how great litigators operate and now they are counseled themselves by litigation and jury consultants, they strongly believe that the litigation presentation techniques espoused by the A2L team are relevant in many aspects of life.

Here are some of the interesting tidbits from these two.  They had so much to offer, I’ve divided their points into a series of articles.

Read more here: http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/68012/dont-use-powerpoint-as-a-crutch-in-trial-or-anywhere?source=Blog_Email_%5BDon%27t%20Use%20PowerPoint%5D

 

powerpoint reading slides litigation courtroom ecard

 

TED Talks – Elizabeth Loftus: The Fiction of Memory

Memory is a remarkable and fragile phenomenon. Or so says Elizabeth Loftus, a researcher and psychologist whose TED talk is the basis for this blog post.

Memory is an important component of our lives as actors and performers and certainly an important part of the lives of lawyers and their witnesses. Attorneys rely on their clients and their witnesses for memories of events, contracts, their actions and the actions of all the folks who are a part of the trial story. For many years, the research has shown that eyewitness testimony can be remarkably UNRELIABLE. Elizabeth Loftus in this enlightening talk expands on this through her own research.

Read more here:

http://legalstage.com/2013/10/03/ted-talks-elizabeth-loftus-the-fiction-of-memory/

Is Hiring a Jury Consultant Really Worth It?

by Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D.
Expert Jury Consultant

If you are a trial lawyer, would you prefer to know which jurors are going to reject your case after the trial or before?

Why retain a jury consultant before you are ready to pick a jury?  Because you have no control over who shows up and only a limited number of strikes during the jury selection process.  Besides, certain types of jurors are never going to vote your way, no matter what you do. When they reject you, they will do so vehemently (and, if possible, punitively), and they may even take other jurors along for the ride. The only good jury is one that agrees with you, but to know which jurors are on your side requires waiting until the trial is over. Or does it?

You can reliably discover what types of jurors accept or reject your case (through jury profiling) and why they do so..

Read more here:

http://www.a2lc.com/blog/bid/67513/is-hiring-a-jury-consultant-really-worth-it?source=Blog_Email_%5BIs%20Hiring%20a%20Jury%20Con%5D

jury selection consultant voir dire texas delaware sdny new york

Consider How You Come Across With the Volume Off

By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:

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We know communication is visual and not just verbal. But when litigators think of that, they tend to think of demonstrative exhibits and technology. But what about themselves? As a speaker, you’re making a visual impression as well. Most know the basics: stand up straight, look the jury or judge in the eye, use a few gestures. But in practice, attorneys want to expect that in court, content is king and what we say matters more than how we look when we say it. But some surprising research shows that more than we expect is coming through the visual channel.

The studies use the technique of asking research participants to assess a communicator without the aid of sound. Watching a music competition with the sound off, for example, (Tsay, 2013) both amateur and professional musicians were able to correctly predict the competition winners, and did so at a level that was better than those who heard and those who both heard and saw the performance. Similarly, experimental participants unfamiliar with the candidates were able to identify the election winner after simply watching ten-second silent video clips of a gubernatorial debate (Benjamin & Shapiro, 2009). As with the music competition research, turning the sound on tended to worsen the accuracy.

 

Read more here:

http://www.persuasivelitigator.com/2013/09/consider-how-you-come-across-with-the-volume-off.html