In high-stakes litigation, truthful and accurate testimony is always the goal. But even the most truthful witness can inadvertently undermine their own testimony if they’re anxious or ill-prepared. Whether for deposition or trial, we can help your witnesses improve their communication skills so they can deliver testimony that is clear and accurate. We teach specific techniques for dealing with tough, even trick questions, like those used in the “reptile strategy.” We can also make recommendations around questioning style and order of witness appearance. In short, we help witnesses be at their best when you need it the most.
When you’re laser-focused on presenting a case, it’s easy to miss some of the nuanced responses that could indicate a necessary shift in strategy. That’s when it helps to have an extra set of trained eyes in the courtroom. While many jury consultants move on to the next case once the jury is empaneled, our consultants are available in the courtroom and the war room to provide ongoing analysis and advice. We’re not mind-readers, but years of experience and the knowledge we’ve accumulated preparing your team for trial, position our consultants to provide unique third-party perspectives on what is working and what isn’t.
Should we storyboard this? The answer is yes. Effective storytelling is critical, whether you’re trying your case to a judge or jury. Much like directing a movie, strategic visual storytelling means presenting the right images and scenarios, in the right media, at the right time. We’re often asked to work as a liaison between the trial team and the graphic artist throughout the trial, advising the trial team as to how and when to use demonstratives in real time.
Developing trial themes is a ThemeVision specialty. It’s even in the name. So let’s start with what a theme is not. A theme is not a catchy phrase captured in a brainstorm. You’re not likely to win a case with a catchy phrase. If you want the jury to hang on your every word, you need to give them something real to hang on to—a fundamental truth they can rely on. And here’s the tricky part. It needs to be their truth.
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We develop trial themes that are expressed as a principle or idea that appeals to the juror’s deeply held beliefs and values. Themes that pervade your evidence and hold the presentation together as a coherent whole. From opening statement to closing argument, we prepare you to tell a story that the jury can easily relate to; recall during deliberations, and respond to with a favorable decision for you and your client. Our approach is one of structured flexibility. We facilitate meetings of key stakeholders and work flexibly through a theme development process that has been practiced and honed through years of identifying, developing, and evaluating case themes. Although these meetings are planned, organized, and efficient, there is room built in for the kind of unconstrained thinking and collaboration that keeps the door open to new and helpful directions. It is an iterative process that yields exceptional results.
Data Analysis and Visualization
Because data and visual design are core competencies at ThemeVision, trial teams often turn to us to translate and communicate complex case-related data into visual narratives. We use our training as research scientists to find and validate the story. We draw accurate conclusions and comparisons, find relationships between data points, and identify trends or anomalies. We then use our design and communications expertise to make recommendations on which presentation format, design assets, layout, colors, or imagery will create the desired impact and be best suited for your audience or venue. There is a science and an art to data visualization. We use them both.
We don’t have to tell you how important it is to present a well-crafted argument, tell a compelling story, or respond strategically to reporters covering your client’s case. The very best lawyers recognize the opportunity that exists to communicate effectively and persuasively in a way that is connected by a common theme and used to their advantage in high-profile and high-stakes litigation.
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Legal communications strategy requires a careful balancing of interests that align communication strategy with legal strategy. The ThemeVision team includes an award-winning broadcast journalist and litigator, a veteran trial graphics designer who cut his teeth designing newsprint, and a group of cognitive scientists. We have focused our research and practice on the psychology of persuasion and effective communication in legal contexts. We help clients navigating complex subjects related to high-stakes legal and regulatory issues communicate persuasively, no matter the audience. If your client is facing enterprise-threatening litigation, we can create legal and communication strategies that not only advance the argument before the jury, but carry the carefully-crafted narrative outside the courtroom to media, shareholders, employees, and other stakeholders. The sooner we get started, the more helpful we can be.
There are some jurors who, regardless of the strength of the evidence, for one reason or another, are not going to be open to hearing what you have to say. That’s not unusual. Our experience tells us there are people like this in every jury pool. You may even have an idea about who those people might be. Of course, opposing counsel has their own ideas. When it comes to striking jurors, is an idea good enough? Or would you rather know?
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Based on an analysis of the quantitative data and an understanding of the evidence and arguments you expect to offer at trial, we conduct case-specific empirical research to determine the demographic and attitudinal characteristics of potential jurors who are most likely and more importantly, least likely to be open to your case or respond favorably if seated on the jury. From our findings, we produce a target juror profile to guide you in scoring potential jurors and choosing peremptory strikes during jury selection.
Can we all agree that the term “jury selection” is misleading? What it should really be called is Jury De-selection. Deciding who to strike from a handful of potential jurors, whether as peremptory strikes or for cause, is one of the most consequential decisions you’ll make—typically made even more difficult by limited time and information. If yours is one of the few cases that actually go to trial, you would be wise to confirm your strategy with data and a professional third-party perspective. We can give you both.
What are the jurors thinking? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know that for sure. One way we can help move the answer from pure guesswork to insights informed by data is with a shadow jury. We match shadow jurors to the seated jury based on key characteristics. Sitting in the gallery, they hear and see what the jury sees, providing their opinions and feedback as often as daily.
Voir Dire Development
As experts in research design, we’re trained to question the questions and know whether the answers really matter. Let our team review your voir dire questions and make recommendations that will produce the most helpful and actionable answers, not just during jury selection, but when the jury is ready to hear your case.