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7 Questions Will Save You Money with Litigation Graphics Consultants

Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.
By: Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.

Trial Graphics, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Preparation, Visual Persuasion

by Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

I have been running an organization that offers litigation graphics consulting as one of its services for nearly 20 years. I've worked with both large and small law firms, I have worked with clients in many countries, and I have worked on large and small cases.

After all that experience, spanning thousands of cases, I can split up the clients who engage A2L Consulting for litigation graphics consulting work into two camps:

  • "Do This" Clients
  • "Help Us" Clients

Some clients come to A2L and say, this case is complicated, we've been working on it for years, and we're just too close to it to be able to explain it in a way that everyday people can understand. These are the "help us" clients.

Some clients come to us and say, "I litigate four patent cases and year, and I know what works. Can you make something like . . ." or "we need a litigation animation that shows exactly what our environmental expert says." These are the "do this" style clients.

Both types of clients are warmly welcomed at A2L and at other litigation graphics consulting firms. However, there is a real risk of wasting time and money when litigation graphics consultants are trying to "help" advise a "do this" client and vice versa. Thus, it is very valuable when a litigator knows what type of client they are before they engage litigation graphics consultants.

There are many firms in the litigation graphics business, however the truly great litigation graphics consulting firms are led by former litigators with meaningful and significant trial experience. You can count the number of these firms worldwide on one hand, and I really only know of A2L and our good friends at Cogent Legal. Firms like ours are capable of helping to develop themes, helping to craft opening statements as well as helping to design a presentation that will teach and persuade a jury in a complex case.

Our firm has personnel to support both the "help us" and "do this" clients. Not surprisingly, they come a different price points, though. Thus, in the beginning of an engagement, our litigation graphics consultants are trained to assess what type of client they are going to be supporting. Then, we staff accordingly. This works well unless the trial team shifts from "do this" to "help us" in the middle of case preparation. That's not uncommon.

I think it is possible for a litigator or trial team to self-assess and communicate their preferred style to their litigation graphics firm of choice. Doing so will save time and money since the litigation graphics firm can staff the project correctly from the beginning.

If there are opposing styles on a trial team, conducting a self-assessment of your team's style is critical. When there are opposing styles, it presents a challenge to a litigation graphics firm that they are not always in the best position to solve.

To self-assess and decide whether your team is taking a "do this" or "help us" approach to your upcoming trial (or mock trial or ADR event), ask yourselves these seven questions and keep track of your score out of seven:

  • Does our trial team know exactly what the judge and/or jury will understand about our case and what they won't. If no, give yourself one point.
  • Would most people consider our case complicated? If yes, give yourself one point.
  • Has our trial team sufficiently prepped our experts so that just about anyone can understand them and be persuaded by them? If no, give yourself one point.

  • Has our trial team developed a meaningful and emotional story, narrative and theme that the fact-finder(s) will relate to? If no, give yourself one point.

  • Does our team have access to most of the visuals we plan to use for the case already from our experts and clients? If no, give yourself one point.

  • Has our trial team simplified our case to the point where one could explain it convincingly to a driver in a short cab ride? If no, give yourself one point.

  • Could our lead litigator explain why we deserve to win to my Mom in five minutes or less? If no, give yourself one point. 
If you have scored three points or higher, your team would likely benefit from a consultative "help us" approach to developing litigation graphics. If you scored a one or a two, you can safely tell your litigation graphics consultants that you know what you need, and you just need them to listen and get it done.
If you are in that three points and higher consultative "help us" category, remember that you have very few real expert litigation graphics firms that you could rely on to offer science-proven advice (as opposed to the gut instinct of an artist or project manager). If you are serious about the consultative approach and are passionate about winning, I recommend using a firm that will offer a former litigator as your lead consultant. It is an amazing experience to be supported by someone at this level, and it saves time, money and energy.

Here are some articles related to litigation graphics, trial graphics and demonstrative evidence from A2L that you may also find helpful:

using litigation graphics courtroom to persuade trial graphics a2l consulting

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