(Former) Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
I am not advocating that you spend more to develop top-notch demonstrative evidence. What I want you to do is make sure that the litigation graphics that you do use look like you paid a million bucks for them. Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Let me explain why.
Recently published and widely reported research out of the University of Cincinnati relating to treating Parkinson’s disease shows that the placebo effect is a real thing and a powerful psychological phenomenon. Interestingly, what the study also shows is that it matters greatly to those experiencing a strong placebo effect how much they believed the pseudo-pharmaceutical cost. Amazingly, seemingly-more-expensive drugs turned out to be much better “drugs” in effect (even though they were not drugs at all). The more a patient believed a drug cost (here the artificial difference was $100 vs $1,500 per dose), the more effective it was at treating their symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Perception of cost was capable of influencing physical and psychological behavior and responses on a subconscious level. Wow.
Knowing this new and interesting bit of science, how can we use it to be more persuasive in litigation, ADR, or similar situations? An easy step is making it appear that your demonstrative evidence, e.g., trial graphics, were very expensive. This is easy – just make your graphics, boards, scale models, etc., look fantastic: creative, well designed, well composed, simple, beautiful, and well-targeted to their specific purpose.
I became aware of the above-identified research while driving to the office and listening to NPR’s Morning Edition. The show very briefly discussed the research and it really struck a chord with me because just the day before I’d been in a client’s patent claim construction (Markman) hearing at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and had the opportunity to compare our supporting graphics to those of opposing counsel. I know ours satisfied the requirements for looking very expensive (see above). The opposition’s, on the other hand, while arguably supportive of their argument, and were rudimentary and just plain ugly.
What makes litigation graphics ugly? Not paying attention to style, lack of client and/or case branding (must be subtle though), inconsistency in color/font size/font type, lack of composition, use of improper font for electronic display, poor slide aspect ratio choice, too much text, too small text, use of bullet-point lists, use of PowerPoint effects for no good reason, and many other things. Basically, if slides look like anyone could make them, they’re not worth the effort or cost. Litigation graphics must look intentional, beautiful, and purposeful. They should look like they cost a lot (but they don’t, really).
I am confident that there was no significant difference in how much either set of Markman hearing PowerPoint slides cost, ours versus theirs. But I witnessed a huge difference in the way the Court received each side’s counsel at oral argument and the general momentum throughout the hearing. It all went our way. The arguments on our side were better, no doubt, but I believe the “high-priced-placebo” effect also played an important role. Our more appealing, more professional-looking, higher-design, more focused graphics enhanced the entire experience for the judge and resulted in better rapport and a lot more nodding at and softball questions for our attorney.
Don’t pay more. But, make sure you get more.
Other articles from A2L Consulting related to litigation graphics, pricing of litigation support services and getting good value from your litigation graphics provider:
- The 12 Worst PowerPoint Mistakes Litigators Make
- 12 Alternative Fee Arrangements We Use and You Could Too
- Download: What is the value of litigation consulting exactly?
- Download: How does in-house get good value in the new normal legal economy?
- Download: The in-house litigation toolkit
- Trial Graphics Dilemma: Why Can't I Make My Own Slides? (Says Lawyer)
- How I Used Litigation Graphics as a Litigator and How You Could Too
- Why the Color of a Dress Matters to Litigators and Litigation Graphics
- How Valuable is Your Time vs. Litigation Support's Time?
- 9 Things In-House Counsel Say About Outside Litigation Counsel
- In-House Counsel Should Make Outside Litigation Counsel Feel Safe
- What Does Using a Trial Technician or Hot-Seater Cost?
- 10 Ways Timely Payment Helps You Save Money On Litigation Consulting
- 12 Reasons Bullet Points Are Bad (in Trial Graphics or Anywhere)
- 16 PowerPoint Litigation Graphics You Won't Believe Are PowerPoint
- What Does Litigation Animation Cost? (Includes Animation Examples)