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I'm absolutely thrilled to announce the release of Persuadius's latest free litigation e-book, The Opening Statement Toolkit v2. Version 1 (2015) was our most popular ebook of all time, with many litigators telling me, "This is essential reading." You may now download this new book without strings attached by clicking here. In this 271-page book, you will find 80 articles curated from Persuadius's massive collection of posts related to litigation and persuasion. Each article relates to opening statements in some way. From organizing the opening to the use of storytelling techniques to persuade, the book contains an amazing array of tips that will prove valuable to the novice litigator and the veteran alike.

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80% of jury trials are won or lost in the opening statement. 80%!!!!!! If you lose to your opponent in opening statements, your chances of winning the case become very slim. Over the past 25 years, I have participated in the drafting of hundreds of opening statements. Sometimes, it's 20% me (and others) and 80% first chair trial counsel; sometimes, it's the other way around. No matter what, it is always a collaborative process. And it's one of the things I enjoy most about my job. Reflecting on these 25 years, I offer twenty-one tips for writing and presenting a winning opening: Simplify, simplify, simplify. The opening statement can’t be too simple. Many people say ninth grade is your audience, but I would suggest sixth grade. Since those of us in the legal industry tend to hang around smart people all the time, writing or speaking at that level is hard. The only way to do it, unless you happen to have a very patient sixth grader on hand, is through practice in front of a trial consultant. See Litigator & Litigation Consultant Value Added: A "Simple" Final Product Tell a story. We have many storytelling resources, specifically Storytelling for Litigators and The Opening Statement Tool Kit. My colleagues and I have spent years putting these FREE guidebooks together, and there's nothing else like them. See also 5 Ways to Maximize Persuasion During Opening Statements - Part 2 I am often asked how long my opening statement should be. I think your opening statement should be less than 45 minutes. Nothing is magical about that number, but I feel it's about as long as people want to pay attention to something. It's no accident that many shows and college classes are offered in 50-minute segments. When was the last time you didn't fidget with your phone during a full-length movie? Sidebar: I feel like there should be a list of movies that are easy to watch while playing on your phone.

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I often talk about what not to do, but sometimes, I must remember to mention what you should do to achieve success at trial. In honor of leap year 2024, I have written this article offering 29 tips for successful trial preparation and execution. You can use this list as a checklist to compare yourself to your peers. I did not develop these ideas alone. Instead, they come from my experience working with the best of you over the past 30 years. 1. Conduct a mock trial. The very best litigators always conduct a mock trial when at least $10 million is at stake. Mock trials are a critical part of the Persuadius service offerings. If you want to discuss one, I invite you to email me (ken@persuadius.com) or call me (1-800-847-9330) or, ideally, fill out a client conflict check form by clicking the purple button in the upper right corner of this page. Only three people, including me, see those. 2. Conduct more than one mock trial. The ideal number is three, and that's precisely what I have observed the best trial lawyers do. It's not always affordable, but more than one mock is mandatory for cases with $25 million or more at stake. The only thing that varies is the investment in each mock trial. If $100 million or more is at stake, every mock should have every investment possible (i.e., a proper mock facility, a two-day or three-day mock, live witnesses, opening and closing statements, etc.). 3. Collaborate with litigation consultants who bring experience and insights to trial preparation. With a track record of handling hundreds of trials, we have witnessed exceptional and lackluster attorney performances. We aim to share valuable knowledge and advice, not lecture or boast about expertise. Drawing on the collective wisdom of countless cases, we strive to support you in crafting a solid and effective trial strategy. Litigation consultants can be exceptionally helpful when developing your opening statement. 4. Build a solid opening statement. In 30 years, I haven't seen anything to convince me that the opening statement is not the most essential part of the case. Some studies say that 80% of jurors make a decision about who will win after hearing opening statements. When done correctly, it should take months to develop an opening. It should be tested many times in whatever way your client can afford. We've written extensively about this. This topic is wonderfully covered in our opening statement toolkit ebook. See The Opening Statement Toolkit.

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As a trial attorney, your opening statement is one of the most crucial parts of your case. We wrote a book about opening statements and offered webinars about opening statements. The opening statement sets the tone for the entire trial and can make or break your case. That's why it's so important to get it right. One way to ensure that your opening statement is effective is to enlist the help of a trial consultant. Here are 10 reasons why you should ask your trial consultant to write a draft, maybe only the first draft, of your opening statement. 1. Experience Trial consultants have years of experience working on cases just like yours. They know what works and what doesn't when it comes to opening statements. By tapping into their expertise, you can be sure that your opening statement will be effective. 2. Fresh Perspective Sometimes, as an attorney, you can get too close to the case. You've been working on it for weeks, if not months, and it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. A trial consultant can bring a fresh perspective to your case and help you see it in a new light.

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Understanding the Role of a Litigation Consultant A litigation consultant plays a crucial role in the legal process, providing expert advice and guidance to attorneys and their clients. They bring a unique set of skills and knowledge to the table, helping to navigate complex legal matters and improve the overall effectiveness of your case.

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As a trial lawyer, your main goal is to persuade the judge or jury that your client’s side of the story is the most compelling one. One of the most effective ways to do this is through trial graphics. These visual aids can help you convey complex information in a way that is easy to understand and memorable. In this article, we’ll explore the science of storytelling and how trial graphics can help you tell a compelling narrative. The Power of Storytelling Humans have been telling stories for thousands of years. From cave paintings to novels, stories have always played an essential role in our lives. But why do we love stories so much? The answer lies in our brain. Research has shown that when we hear a story, our brain releases dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure and reward. This makes us feel good and helps us remember the information better. In addition to making us feel good, stories also help us make sense of the world around us. They provide a framework for understanding complex information and help us remember important details. This is why stories are such a powerful tool in the courtroom.

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As a trial attorney, you know that the opening statement is the most important part of any case. It sets the tone for the entire trial and can be the difference between winning and losing. Crafting a compelling opening statement takes skill and practice, and one way to develop that skill is through mock trials. Mock trials are simulations of real trials that allow legal professionals to practice their skills in a safe and controlled environment. They are a valuable tool for developing the opening statement because they allow you to test different approaches and see what works best. Here are some tips for using mock trials to develop your opening statement: 1. Practice different approaches One of the benefits of mock trials is that you can practice different approaches to see what works best. Try starting with a strong statement of the facts, or opening with a rhetorical question that grabs the jury's attention. Experiment with different styles and see which one resonates with your audience. For example, you could begin your opening statement with a powerful anecdote that relates to the case at hand. This can immediately engage the jury and make them emotionally invested in the trial.

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Our blog has been thriving for nearly a decade, accumulating over a million visits during this remarkable period. As we approach the official 10-year blog anniversary next year, we also celebrate the impressive 28-year milestone of our entire company. To stay in tune with our readers' preferences, we meticulously monitor the traffic of each blog post, enabling us to identify the crème de la crème. Without further ado, here are the top 100 most engaging blog posts from the past ten extraordinary years. 5 Questions to Ask in Voir Dire The Top 14 Testimony Tips for Litigators and Expert Witnesses Ways to Identify the Jury Foreman: Insights on Leadership and Influence 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

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I recently read two studies by Professor Jeffrey Loewenstein of the University of Illinois that offer extremely valuable persuasion tools for trial lawyers. They were not written with trial lawyers in mind, but the lessons they teach are universal when it comes to persuasion. Together they provide an important toolset for those of us who craft or hone opening statements for a living. The first of these studies, The Repetition-Break Plot Structure Makes Effective Television Advertisements [paywall], helps answer the question of why some advertising campaigns outperform others. It turns out there exists an ages-old and highly persuasive storytelling structure often seen in folktales around the world. Advertisers who use it tend to win more awards, generate more purchases, and see their advertisements shared virally -- much like a folktale. It is my experience that techniques that sell products sell arguments just as well. We've written about this before in articles like Could Surprise Be One of Your Best Visual Persuasion Tools? and Repeat a Simple Message Repeatedly to Maximize Courtroom Persuasion. It is exactly these types of inherently persuasive language tools that arouse core human instincts that we must deploy in the courtroom for our clients benefit. After all, if we can give our jurors an easily memorable story, we give them a potent weapon to argue in favor of our position with other jurors.

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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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I've written two articles recently about the impeachment proceedings, and after publishing each, someone has written to me and accused me of bias. With thousands of people reading these articles, this is to be expected, I suppose. Well, in these two bias accusations, I was accused once by the left and then next by the right. I'm proud of this fact, as this suggests I'm not actually demonstrating bias. In fact, I believe my political beliefs are not relevant in my role as CEO of A2L. We're not a political entity. So, I have to warn you, this article is not political, it is not about the content of the statements the presenters made, and it is also not really about the weight of the evidence on either side of the impeachment trial. It is, however, about who won the first day of trial presentations during the Senate impeachment trial — from a trial presentation best-practices standpoint. On this question, I thought the answer was clear.

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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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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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As both a leading jury consulting firm and a leading litigation graphics consulting firm, we can offer a unique perspective about the intersection of these two fields. A mock trial is frequently a part of A2L's jury consulting work. One aspect of designing and executing a valuable mock trial that I take particular interest in is the development of litigation graphics for both sides of the case. This litigation graphics presentation is typically created in PowerPoint and is designed to support the "clopening" argument for each side's case. If it is not apparent, the industry term "clopening" is a portmanteau of the words opening and closing. During an actual trial, argument is prohibited during an opening statement and reserved only for the closing statement. During a mock trial, the opening and closing statements are combined into a single event where a case is introduced, explained, and argued. A typical clopening argument is 1-2 hours long, and an average of 30-60 real and demonstrative evidence slides will be used to support the clopening argument. Just a few years ago, many jury consulting firms neglected to use and test visual presentations during a mock trial. For decades, we have explained the obvious importance of this testing and made a case for it in articles like: Why Litigation Graphics at Mock Trials Make Sense, Why You Should Pressure-Test Your Trial Graphics Well Before Trial, 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Mock Jury About Litigation Graphics, and Mock Trial Testing of Litigation Graphics AND Arguments. In my experience, the visual presentation is as important as the oral presentation during a mock trial. It aides in juror understanding, it speeds up the case considerably, it provides lessons to the litigation graphics team, and it makes for a more realistic simulation of the actual trial. See, Insist Your Litigation Graphics Consultant Attend Your Mock Trial. As is often the case for a trial, preparation for a mock trial is typically focused on the development of the initial presentation for the mock jurors. It's a sensible place to concentrate trial prep efforts as designing this presentation forces timely preparation of the legal arguments, the development of a well-honed narrative, and often the discovery of the best way to visually explain a case. Preparing these presentations for a mock trial is quite different from preparing for a courtroom trial, however. Whether you are a veteran trial lawyer or you are considering your first mock trial. These three tips below are useful for anyone planning a mock trial and have proven to be critical in the very best mock trials I have observed:

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