At least once a week, I hear someone on A2L's customer relationship team say, "a litigator told me they already hired a litigation graphics consultant, but really they've only hired their trial technology consultant so far. How can we help them understand the difference between the two roles?" Hopefully, I can help clear up the understandable confusion somewhat in this article.
A litigation graphics consultant and a trial technology consultant are two entirely different roles. Perhaps because of the quick rise of midsize law firms in big litigation, we are hearing confusion more often than ever. Except in the rarest of circumstances, a good trial team should not try to combine the work in one person.
There is a stark difference between the work that trial technicians do, primarily the presentation of electronic evidence, and the work that litigation graphics consultants do, primarily designing demonstratives to teach and persuade the fact-finders.
Both are high-level tasks. Both can make or break a case. However, the work of litigation graphics consultants is centered around determining how to best tell a story, how best to present the evidence, and how best to persuade a judge or jury using just the right visual aids.
The work of a trial technician is largely centered around the effective and efficient presentation of digital evidence - both demonstrative and real. Trial technicians are in the business of using Trial Director and other programs to display documents and demonstrative evidence on call.
Most good trial technicians can use PowerPoint. However most trial technicians cannot do the kind of litigation graphics work in PowerPoint featured here: 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint. This work represents high-quality information art.
PowerPoint in the hands of a non-artist can be a very dangerous weapon as I wrote about recently in 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations. Trial Director in the hands of an artist can be just as dangerous. Just as not all lawyers are litigators, not all artists can run technology under pressure and not all trial technicians can make great art.
In rare circumstances, the two roles exist in the same person. However I think there are only a small handful of these talented people working in the industry right now, and they are charging hourly rates that are the equivalent of a good graphics person and a good trial technician combined.
The kind of person who can understand a complex legal story and figure out how to present it to a lay audience is an entirely different personality-type than a person who can handle the methodical, rigorous and incessant demands of the hot seat. Trying to save a a few thousand dollars trying to combine the two roles in one person will almost always be harmful to your trial presentation.
You certainly want a trial technician who can use PowerPoint since they can make on-the-fly edits for you at the trial site or even in the courtroom. If you are trying to save money, you can often do so by avoiding the expense of an on-site artist, since a good trial technician can be a conduit to an artist working remotely.
Cases with more than five million dollars at stake normally require both roles to be filled by at least two different people. Typically, the work of the litigation graphics consultants begins months before trial. The work of a trial technician usually begins weeks before trial.
Whether it is the art of making great litigation graphics or whether it is the art of performing technological miracles under pressure, putting the wrong person(s) in the wrong seat(s) will result in bad art - and nobody likes that.
Articles and resources on A2L's site related to trial technicians, litigation graphics and PowerPoint:
- What Does Using a Trial Technician or Hot-Seater Cost?
- What Do Trial Presentation Services Cost?
- 12 Alternative Fee Arrangements We Use and You Could Too
- FREE DOWNLOAD: Storytelling for Litigators: Building a Great Narrative for Judge & Jury
- FREE WEBINAR: Storytelling as a Persuasion Tool
- FREE DOWNLOAD: Complimentary Complex Civil Litigation E-Book Download
- FREE DOWNLOAD: A Litigator's Guide: How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology
- FREE DOWNLOAD: Using & Creating Litigation Graphics to Persuade - An E-Book for Litigators and Litigation Support Professionals
- 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations
- 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
- The 14 Most Preventable Trial Preparation Mistakes