March 2002

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Edited By Milton W. Zwicker

Why, when and how to give computer presentations in legal settings. Also, a guide to Chinese business culture that can help lawyers build better client relationships.

Persuasive Computer Presentations: The Essential Guide for Lawyers

Ann E. Brenden and John D. Goodhue. (ABA Law Practice Management Section, 2001.) $79.95; LPM Section members: $69.95. PC: 511-0462. (800) 285-2221;


Presentation techniques have been the subject of numerous seminars, books and articles for lawyers. This new book, however, is unique because it provides a comprehensive guide to using inexpensive software to create presentations for use inside and outside of the courtroom.

Persuasive Computer Presentations was written by Ann E. Brenden, an attorney with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office who has been involved in a number of technology projects, and John D. Goodhue, a Des Moines patent lawyer who has worked in the area of electronics and software development. They note that an audience can remember more of your spoken words if they are accompanied by visuals. Fortunately for the reader, the authors explain how to create eye-catching visuals so your audience will understand and retain your message.

Readers will learn how to create effective presentations using software like Astound Presentation (www, Corel Presentations (, Lotus Freelance Graphics (, Microsoft PowerPoint ( and StarOffice Impress ( The aim is to quickly and easily create visuals that win verdicts, mediations, arbitrations and requests for proposals.

The book is divided into 16 chapters grouped in several sections. The first section is an introduction to the art of persuasion and how to apply it in the practice of law. The second section is devoted to trial presentations, with chapters on using computer presentations during opening statements, direct examination, cross-examination, closing arguments and appellate arguments. The next section instructs lawyers on how to use computer presentations at meetings and seminars.

In the last section, the authors cover the mechanics of preparing presentations, with chapters on selection of computer equipment and software, visual design considerations and the nuts and bolts of delivering a presentation. Readers also will learn how to avoid problems with handouts, room arrangements and speaking dynamics. The appendices include a table comparing presentation software packages, a checklist for equipment and facilities and a discussion of intellectual property issues.

Persuasive Computer Presentations is accompanied by a CD-ROM that contains computer-generated slides from a voir dire examination, an opening statement, a direct examination and a closing argument. The disc also includes evidentiary presentations demonstrating the use of 3-D graphics from a personal injury case, use of layering techniques in a sexual harassment case and use of photos in a property damage case.

This book is a primer on how to give effective and persuasive presentations in a number of legal settings—trials, continuing education seminars, office meetings, in-house training sessions and marketing to clients and prospects. It is especially valuable for solos and small firm practitioners without the resources to attend skill seminars. Regardless of firm size, readers will learn to create entertaining presentations that persuade the listener to accept their arguments.

Michael L. Goldblatt ( is Associate General Counsel, Tidewater Inc., in New Orleans.

Inside Chinese Business: A Guide for Managers Worldwide

Ming-Jer Chen. (Harvard Business School Press, 2001.) $29.95. ISBN: 1-57851-232-8.


China’s economic and legal systems are in transition. This transition, made possible by China’s decision to gradually open its economy to market forces, creates new opportunities for foreign firms. Lured by a market of 1.2 billion people, North American businesses are looking to expand into China. These businesses will expect their lawyers to understand Chinese commercial practices. Inside Chinese Business is a great starting point.

My fascination with this book, however, stems more from the explanations of the role relationships play in Chinese life. Many lawyers and businesspeople talk about relationship management, but the Chinese walk their talk. The author writes, "In contrast to the West’s transaction-based business culture, Chinese business society is relationship based." It is their form of social capital—and they use the beautiful word guanxi (guan_shi) to describe it. Chen defines guanxi as: connections and networks based on trust, common background and experience. There’s no direct English translation for this word, but it describes the kind of client relationships for which most lawyers would kill.

The Chinese spend a great deal of time building relationships. Chen believes it is this commitment of time that truly defines guanxi. It’s about cultivating and nourishing your own network of people. After reading this book, I’m all for replacing the word marketing with the word guanxi.

The Chinese nurture and maintain guanxi through individual relationships instead of through organizations. This is not just a lesson Western businesspeople must learn; it is a lesson lawyers can use and apply as well. Build strong trust relationships with clients and they will stick with you regardless of what firm you practice in.

Chen also explains why relationship management is so important. It is very different from management based solely on the bottom line. It requires a mind-set open to the complexities of human interactions. Understanding guanxi—what it is and how to cultivate and manage it—can be a valuable tool for anyone doing business with the Chinese. It can also provide a foundation for managing business networks, both personal and professional, throughout the world.

This book is essential reading if you want to serve the needs of clients who do business in China. But it is also a must-read if you want to learn to build better client relationships.

Milton W. Zwicker ( is Managing Partner of Zwicker Evans & Lewis in Orillia, ONT, and the author of Successful Client Newsletters (ABA 1998).