When you’re an expert witness, standing out among the competition and finding long-term success is no easy task. As a consulting firm constantly working with attorneys and their witnesses, we at Litigation Insights have heard, and seen, the horror stories: Witnesses can be tough to work with, exhibit behaviors and body language that damage their credibility, and/or struggle to present their ideas to a layman audience in an understandable, persuasive way. These problems only compound with experts, who tend to provide crucial testimony on particularly dense material. Indeed, too often, attorneys tell us an expert will pass the interview with
In Part 1, we discussed the major narrative-framing strategies plaintiffs employ to coax jurors into awarding massive damages. However, a number of additional psychological and case-specific factors are at play, and these are just as important to keep in mind as you weigh the risks of encountering a nuclear verdict – and your potential counterstrategies. Psychological Factors That Influence Nuclear Verdicts Anchoring The amount jurors award in damages, after finding for a plaintiff, is almost always influenced by the amount of the demand. In psychological terms, we call that “anchoring.” Anchoring and adjustment are psychological heuristics, or shortcuts, that influence how
There has been a recent increase in the number of nuclear verdicts handed down by jurors, including the largest award from 2019: an eye-popping $8 billion. For defendants, this trend has generated even more uncertainty and anxiety about taking a case to trial. Technically speaking, a ‘nuclear verdict’ is defined as a verdict in favor of the plaintiff with a damages award that surpasses $10 million; but, the term is most accurately used to describe an outcome significantly larger than what anyone expected. So what’s causing this unsettling uptick in nuclear verdicts? And who is most vulnerable to such outcomes?
I recently participated in a roundtable on the topic of virtual depositions for the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association’s Class Action, Mass Tort, and Multi-District Litigation Practice Group. The panelists, which also included magistrate judges and practicing attorneys, discussed our experiences with this remote format. As it turned out, many of the experiences were positive: For instance, not having to fly around the country for just a few hours of deposition; the reduced wear and tear on attorneys and their clients, not to mention the cost savings; parties’ increasing comfort with virtual depositions now that so many
PowerPoint is a software with a deep end and a shallow end. It can be very powerful, but Microsoft has built it to allow novice users to create decently polished presentations without a huge learning curve. And because it was developed to appeal to a wide range of user abilities and familiarities, some of the tools most useful for frequent tasks applying to our litigation context are buried behind menus and settings, making them tough to find and tedious to get to for repeated use. So, to make your life easier as you build your next presentation, this blog will
Contrary to what feels like a running trend of Millennial-bashing, we’d like to go on record as saying that Millennials can frequently be extremely valuable, hard-working additions to your trial team. We’re sure many of our clients would agree, as we’ve gotten to work alongside quite a few truly impressive young trial attorneys. Their valuable Millennial skillset often includes an inherent grasp of technology and visual presentation – given that they’ve been using it nearly their entire lives. As a result, it’s reasonable to look at your young-gun attorneys and think, “Hey, they know how all this works! They can
When considering your team’s technological capabilities and needs as your virtual (or semi-virtual) trial approaches, it’s critical to understand how that trial is going to vary from what you’re used to. A Zoom trial can be unfamiliar and overwhelming, even for those who consider themselves tech-savvy. Litigation Insights’ presentation technology consultants have assisted clients with numerous trials during the COVID-19 period and have a firm grasp on how Zoom trials tend to function. We also have the advantage of having leveraged streaming and video-conference software in courtroom applications since long before the pandemic. So, we wanted to offer our experiences
This post contains quotations1 from an interview with LI’s Director of Jury Research, Dr. Christina Marinakis, by professional poker player Zachary Elwood, on his podcast entitled, “People Who Read People.” Listen to the full episode on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, or iHeartRadio. On the Game Theory of Voir Dire The best jury consultants and attorneys who participate in voir dire are able to anticipate the next side’s move and what the consequences of that move will be. So when I’m trying to decide who we want on the panel, the only way we can do that is through the striking process.
“I came in here with pictures of stop signs. I came in here with pictures of rampant corporate neglect. We have a duty here as a jury. We are holding corporations accountable. This is one of the things they are responsible for, but our duty as a citizen – my duty as a juror – is to bring justice. Justice for all wrongdoing by this corporation since its inception over a hundred years ago.” Words like these, from the mouth of a mock juror determined from the start of deliberations to stand by a pro-plaintiff verdict, are not unique. They
COVID-19 has shifted much of the litigation process into unfamiliar virtual territory. Luckily, we’ve assisted with quite a few trials during this period, and have emerged with some valuable experiences and lessons. In Part 1, we covered our top tips for conducting effective voir dire/jury selection in a virtual or semi-virtual setting. Now, we move on to remote witnesses (i.e., streamed via videoconference software like Zoom), as well as general presentation technology tips: COVID Remote Witness Tips Your Zoom witnesses should create a “set” in the room they’ll testify from. Similar to our recommendation for attorneys, your witnesses will come