The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Demonstratives: Making Effective Graphics for Trial

I frequently use Microsoft PowerPoint to create and display demonstrative graphics used in Opening Statements, Closing Arguments, and with Expert Witnesses. Although professional graphic artists also use tools such as Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop, in the hands of an experienced user, PowerPoint can accomplish many of the same tasks, and it is much easier to work with. In addition, it is often used to present demonstratives in the courtroom – regardless of which software was used to design them.
Demonstratives: Making Effective Graphics for Trial
Published by National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), John Cleaves’ recent book offers an in-depth look at various types of demonstrative graphics used in litigation, and how to create them using PowerPoint.

Whether you an attorney interested in handling some of your own graphics work or a paralegal working with trial support and graphics, this book will help you get it done. Even if you already work with PowerPoint on a regular basis, I would highly recommend this book, as there are many valuable “power-user” tips and tricks offered. Plus, John is such a cool guy, and it’s always nice to support one of our own.

In my experience, I have found that a hard-working trial team is a successful trial team, which is noted in the Preface of the book: “…attorneys who are most likely to have a successful outcome …are the ones who have prepared most thoroughly, …and that preparation includes …demonstrative graphics.”

Working with NITA’s fictitious “Homestead Properties, Inc. v. Manhattan Fire & Casualty Co.” case as an example, the first chapter touches upon the basic PowerPoint layout and developing trial themes and case strategy. The remainder of the book addresses many typical litigation graphics examples, and it covers nearly every function available in PowerPoint used to create them.

By design, although the book may be read cover-to-cover like a novel, it can also be easily be used as a reference to accomplish specific tasks when developing your own demonstratives. The table of contents is laid out in great detail, such that if you were interested in how best to add a video to your presentation, jumping to Chapter 7 (Photographs and Video; Working with Video) would be a good place to start. Since the book is available in electronic formats for both iPad and computer viewing, jumping directly to a desired topic is as easy as a click or a tap.

As noted by renowned photographer Ansel Adams, "people believe photographs."

(click or tap image to enlarge)

About the Author: John Cleaves

John Cleaves is the Trial Technology Attorney and the Manager of the Trial Technology Consulting team at Latham & Watkins LLP, a department he founded and built for the firm. Previously, he was a Director of Trial Support for FTI Consulting and the Director of Media Services for LegaLink. He is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of Texas, where he practiced law for a number of years before becoming a trial consultant.

As a trial consultant, John has assisted on trials and arbitrations from as far west as Honolulu and as far east as London, from Seattle to San Diego; Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and most everywhere in between. It will come as no surprise that he is a certified Microsoft Office Specialist in PowerPoint®.

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