Volume 3, Number 2 • April 2005

Animator at Law

 By Joseph Sebelin and Cheryl Tennant Humes

From an early age, Ken Lopez knew he wanted to be a lawyer. He remembers sharing this dream with family and friends as early as elementary school. In 1995, Lopez reached his goal and graduated from Widener University School of Law. He passed the bar and continued working with a thriving law firm that had hired him while he was still in law school.

But Lopez wanted more. Although Lopez found his work at the firm as fulfilling and exciting as he had expected, he wondered how he would distinguish himself from other law school graduates that enter the practice each year. The answer came in the form of a talent he developed as a college student. While an undergraduate student at University of Mary Washington, Lopez purchased a computer and started to experiment with computer design and drafting programs. Though he never had any formal training, he developed a skill in graphics and animation. Soon he was developing flyers for campus organizations.

Ultimately, Lopez utilized this talent during one of his medical malpractice cases. Lopez realized the jury needed to have a visual simulation of the operation and its flaws. With the help of his computer, he created an animated simulation of the surgery. Although the case settled, Lopez viewed the simulation as integral to settlement of his case. He realized that this might set him apart in the profession as well as prove an effective and powerful litigation tool to other attorneys.

Enter Animators at Law, a company that Lopez founded in 1995 to provide computer-generated courtroom animation and visual communication services to attorneys. Animators at Law provides such services in all areas of the law in which trial exhibits are utilized, including intellectual property, complex commercial litigation, antitrust, product liability, environmental, construction, aviation matters and other scientific, document intensive cases. Animators at Law has also been involved in tobacco litigation, pharmaceutical litigation, and environmental litigation. In addition, Animators at Law provides total litigation support services by assisting in trial preparation and strategy for a more interesting and persuasive trial presentation. Since its founding, Animators at Law has grown exponentially, and now provides services on a national scale. According to Lopez, three quarters of the top twenty law firms in the United States use Animators’ services, and Animators was involved in one-third of the thirty top cases of the past several years.

Lopez now works exclusively as the CEO of Animators and primarily supervises the operation of his expanding business. Animators currently employees a team of thirty-eight artists, lawyers, salespeople, and graphic artists. Although Lopez acknowledges that he does miss “digging into a case” and the depth of involvement that is required when working on a case from start to finish, he enjoys the different challenges that are presented in leading his own company and does not regret leaving the practice.

With regard to careers outside the practice, Lopez believes that a little determination and ingenuity can yield dramatic results. In particular, lawyers that can find a way to combine the practice of law with other life interests will enjoy their practice. He notes that one of his former professors at Widener has managed to merge law with his interest in scuba diving and is now a noted expert in law pertaining to the finding and recovery of treasure. With his own success, Lopez has developed a profitable business using his artistic talents while making a unique and lasting mark within the profession he loves.

Animators offers on-site services, including equipment setup and technical support as needed throughout the process. For those attorneys who may not need or want fully computerized animation, Animators also offers quality printed exhibits created by their expert artists and graphic designers. To learn more about Animators, Inc., visit their website at www.animators.com or call 1-800-337-7697.

Joseph V. Sebelin, Jr., has been practicing for more than six years with three different firms. He recently returned to his rural home county to practice law in Pennsylvania. He practices in the family law and civil litigation areas of the law. He can be reached at jsebelin@uslawcenter.com.

Cheryl Tennant Humes is a student at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and works as a legal intern for Attorney William G. Schwab & Associates in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. She's hoping to find a creative way to combine the law and her former career as a classical musician.

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