Bad Facts? Bad Witnesses? Bad Jury Pool? No Problem.
Trialcraft solves your toughest trial problems with pre-trial, in-trial, and post-trial services that help you craft a more persuasive case, eliminate jurors beyond persuasion and learn from every trial experience. We also coach individuals and groups in stress management and trial and performance skills, with an emphasis on developing peak performance under real-life trial conditions. Whether your case is big or small, civil or criminal, we can help — and take your or your counsel’s trial skills to the next level.
Which costs more: hiring a trial consultant or losing your case?
Civil and criminal trials are high-risk, high-stakes events with unpredictable outcomes. In civil cases, often not just money but reputations and livelihoods are on the line. In criminal cases, clients may risk losing professional licenses and assets along with their liberty. Appeal may be possible, but in many instances, practically speaking, the outcome is final.
Trials are also an increasingly unusual kind of event. They rely on listening closely, full focus and attention, and physical presence. They depend on complex credibility judgments based on the oral performance of attorneys, witnesses, and experts. Information is presented in old-fashioned ways according to rules that reign nowhere else.
And trials are rare events, so people who find themselves caught up in a lawsuit have almost never seen or participated in a trial (other than perhaps watching Law and Order on TV). Many attorneys, even experienced ones, have scant opportunities to practice and hone their craft in trial.
Athletic competitions are the most comparable events to trials in terms of the intensity, physical presence, degree of risk, and high degree of performance required of participants. Athletes never go into a big game or competition without coaching from experts, intensive studying of game day conditions, practicing, testing of strategy, and rehearsing in conditions that closely resemble “game day.” But attorneys and their clients go into trials without equivalent coaching and practice all the time.
In our experience, there are five reasons:
- Beliefs from both clients and attorneys that top litigators shouldn’t need coaching or assistance to win at trial
- Perceived cost
- Erroneous but widely accepted folk beliefs about how trials are won
If settlement is not an option, your options going into trial are winning or losing. Hiring a consultant, and getting advice, coaching, and assistance with witness preparation and trial development come with a price tag, no doubt (although often a lower one than you expect). But what is the price tag of losing — for you, for your insureds or clients, for others whose lives are touched by the trial? Trials are expensive regardless of whether you hire a consultant. Why face the risks of a trial without the advice of a seasoned and sage trial expert (who has worked on more trials than most trial attorneys)?
For high-risk cases, mock trials are the best form of preparation
When you want to know how a judge or jury is likely to react to a case, go to the horse’s mouth! Ask judges or jurors recruited to resemble the decision-makers in your case.
In addition to finding out how well your arguments and strategy really fly, you can use a mock trial to:
- Assess your risks.
- Determine your best settlement number and posture.
- Practice voir dire and test your jury-selection models.
- Assess judicial and juror reactions to your key witnesses.
- Identify areas of confusion in your case.
- Generate insights into how best to handle bad facts and documents.
- Give live witnesses an opportunity to practice their testimony in a setting where mistakes don’t matter.
- Test and refine graphics.
- Practice in a setting that closely matches a real trial.
Mock trials cannot predict your trial outcome, nor can they guarantee a win or successful resolution. Run in the right way, they can reliably predict the questions and concerns your case will raise in the minds of your decision-makers and help you craft the best possible case. In our experience, there is no better way to get ready to win.
Build Your Trial Story
Building your trial story is like building a house: start with the frame
A trial is a story contest. Each party is trying to prove that its story better accounts for the evidence.
To tell a persuasive trial story, you need to build a clear structure or frame to your story. This is true whether you are plaintiff / prosecution or defense. Defendants often make the mistake of believing that they only have to rebut the other side’s case; while technically this is true, you are in a weak position if you have no affirmative story to tell, and only respond to the other side’s framing of what happened.
Once you know your story frame, it quickly becomes clear which specific pieces of evidence you need to show judge or jury in trial.
In general, the evidence you need to show falls into three categories:
- Evidence that supports your story
- Evidence that closes the doors that might lead into speculation that will undermine your story
- Evidence that counters the other side’s story
Figure out your trial frame relatively early in your trial process — before or in the early stages of discovery or investigation. This is the best path to consistent litigation success. Even when you are oriented toward settlement, having a strong trial story will help you get there.
Trialcraft is all about the trial story, and we stand out in our skill at quickly understanding both your and your opponent’s best trial stories. For some tips on how to think about your trial story like we do, read our blog-post, Building Your Trial Story Is Like Building a House, and learn more about our services to help you find your best trial story.