May/June 2003  Volume 29, Issue 4
April 2003 Issue
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Cover Story
The Power of Persuasion
Business as Usual Goes on Trial
Trial practice isn't what it used to be. Indeed, the tools and tactics for winning your cases seem to be evolving at a breakneck clip—which is driving savvy lawyers to explore new ways to leverage good outcomes for their clients. Inside and outside of the courtroom, you want to build a case that will persuade judge, jury or mediator of the strength and trueness of your cause. Many new factors are in play today—here's a glance at some of the top ones.

Document management. Winning counsel have to cut through a jungle of paper and electronic files to organize countless case components into a cohesive, transparent and easily manageable litigation strategy. Have you implemented specialized software that allows you to track all aspects of your case? What about document assembly and expert systems? Do you use extranets to collaborate with all the players? And will your or your clients' current document retention practices enable you to respond quickly to electronic discovery requests? Learn what programs smart lawyers (like your opposing counsel) are using-and implement the ones you need today.

Electronic filing. While some lawyers may be resistant to other legal technology trends, there's no choosing the pace when it comes to e-filing. The courts, especially those in the federal system, are driving the pace-and many are ready for e-filing now. But what about you? Do you have the systems and staff in place to easily support it? Get on the boat-figure out how you need to interact with the court administration and rethink your timeline for pretrial planning.
Persuasion specialists. Okay, you already know the basics of how to persuade an audience. But why not take advantage of what psychologists have learned, too? Study up on the psychology of persuasion. And perhaps take advantage of the new breed of professionals who offer a variety of services designed to boost your effectiveness. These experts in everything from courtroom innuendo to communication styles offer help in areas ranging from community attitude surveys and jury selection, to voir dire strategies, trial simulations and post-trial juror interviews.

Courtroom connections. You want to connect to the Internet-or even your firm's network-from court. But will you face the wrath of a technophobic judge when you pull out your laptop? You might-or you might find that the court heartily embraces the high-tech. Determine in advance how use of technology in the courtroom will play out with the judge, the jury and your own case strategy. Plus, if you're connecting with other members of a "virtual trial team," learn how to manage that capability for maximum effectiveness.

Multimedia trial graphics. We live in a multimedia world-a fact that dramatically affects the way an audience absorbs information. If your opponents reenact the scene of the crime in dazzling full-color animation, offering cross-section diagrams and interactive demonstrations of various scenarios, what will you do in response? You need to grab-and hold-the fact-finders' attention with compelling, moving imagery. The time is long past when anyone was impressed by a static PowerPoint presentation with a "Father's Tie" background. Get with it.

Video and virtual depositions. Your client is in the hospital. Your medical expert has a schedule conflict. Your key forensic witness lives six states away. Or maybe (hey, it happens) your case budget just imploded and you'd be loath to fly more witnesses across the country. Can you do the deposition on the phone? Can you videotape the testimony? Does it lend itself to real-time conferencing? Are you taking full advantage of all virtual means of communication? Know your options-and maybe you should ask one of those trial consultants about each option's impact on the court.
The media. Like it or not, the fourth estate has become another factor in how your cases play. So you might as well do everything you can to make media coverage work to your advantage. Do you know the ground rules for speaking with reporters, be it off the record about a pending trial or on the record as an expert commentator on another matter? If not, you could alienate the press-or get sued for libel -and thereby damage the case, as well as your credibility.

And there's much more. Now, turn the pages and read in detail about the art of persuasion during trial-including sizzling technology tools for high-impact effects. And heads up! LPM asked speakers at ABA TECHSHOW® 2003 for their views on the most significant trends affecting litigation practice, now and in the future. You'll find their responses interspersed throughout the following pages.

-The Editors

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