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.
1. Jury Consulting
- Mock jury trials: Most of our work in the jury consulting space involves working with trial lawyers to help develop cloepening-style presentations and then test those cases in front of mock jurors. The feedback generated from survey data, watching deliberations, and facilitated group discussions helps a trial team and client understand where a case's particular strengths and weaknesses are. Best results are achieved by repeating this process.
- Mock bench trials: A minority of our "jury" consulting work involves conducting mock bench trials. Normally, retired or former judges are used to help test a case very similar to the way mock jurors are used.
- Witness preparation: Any witness, whether fact or expert, can benefit from professional witness preparation -- particularly by someone outside of the trial team.
- Jury selection and voir dire consulting: Our team is often hired to participate in jury selection. Sometimes, it's the only thing we are hired for in a particular trial.
- Focus groups: These exercises are conducted either to test litigation issues at an earlier stage (often as a precursor to a full mock trial) or to save on budget.
- There are even more types of work we do in the "jury consulting" category like shadow juries, social media monitoring, and juror questionnaire consulting. Search our blog for more articles on these and other topics by clicking here.
2. Litigation Consulting
We use the term "litigation consulting" to both broadly describe the overall trial consulting work that we do, and we also, somewhat confusingly, use the term to describe a unique process where A2L's trial lawyers, consultants, and psychologists work with trial counsel to refine how arguments are presented at trial. Most of the time, this work is centered around developing an opening statement. Some of that work relates to the visual trial presentation, but just as much is focused on developing a persuasive narrative, enhancing the opening by including storytelling techniques, and above all else - practice. Lots of practice.
- Accepting Litigation Consulting is the New Hurdle for Litigators
- The #1 Reason Top Trial Teams Keep Winning
- Three Top Trial Lawyers Tell Us Why Storytelling Is So Important
- Develop Your Trial Story – Sooner, Not Later
- The Key Elements of a Good Narrative – at Trial or Anywhere Else
- Are You Smarter Than a Soap Opera Writer?
- The First Version of Your Story Is NOT Your Best
- Ten Ways to Maximize Persuasive Courtroom Storytelling (Part One)
- Practice is a Crucial Piece of the Storytelling Puzzle
3. Litigation Graphics Consulting
- Litigation Graphics for Opening Statements (also for closing, experts, and everything else): Nearly half of our work is devoted to the development of litigation graphics for opening statements. Most cases are won or lost during opening, and the visuals probably define half of that battle. These days, most trial presentations are done in PowerPoint. Here are some of our favorite articles and resources on this topic:
- Why You Need a Litigation Graphics Consultant
- 12 Reasons Litigation Graphics are More Complicated Than You Think
- 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
- 12 Ways to SUCCESSFULLY Combine Oral and Visual Presentations
- 5 Effective Litigation Graphics Techniques From The Impeachment Trial
- 10 Types of Value Added by Litigation Graphics Consultants
- New Webinar - PowerPoint Litigation Graphics - Winning by Design
- Computer Animation: Many cases benefit from the use of one or more types of computer animation.
- Trial Boards: This old medium is important to use today. Most jurors have never seen a large-format printed trial board, so they work very well to emphasize key points.
- Physical Models: They come up less and less, but that's why people stare intently at them if you build them. They are a great persuasion tool.
4. Hot-Seat/Trial Technician
The hot-seater is a critical part of a sophisticated trial team. They run the electronic display at trial and bring up evidence on a moment's notice. Used wisely, they allow first-chair to connect with the fact-finders better, and they make the trial team look more credible and persuasive.
- 12 Tips to Hire the Right Trial Technician for Your Trial
- 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians
- Why Rapport Between a Trial Lawyer and a Trial Technician is So Important
- What a Great “Hot Seat Operator” Can Add to a Trial Team
- E-Book: How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology
I hope I have made some progress explaining not just what A2L Consulting does but also what a litigation consultant does. In some ways, these four service areas are a complicated set of offerings with a lot of nuances. Perhaps, it is easiest simply to remember that each of these offerings is geared at one thing -- winning more cases. It's why we are hired by the best trial teams in the business. The ROI of what we do is very high, and the best trial lawyers know it.
For additional reading about litigation consulting and A2L Consulting, these free publications are very helpful and some of our best:
- E-Book: The Value of Litigation Consulting
- Why Work With A2L Consulting
- NEW & FREE 219-Page Opening Statements Toolkit E-Book
- Storytelling for Trial Lawyers
- Subscribe to this blog for free