Our 15th Year – 15 Highlights

Suann Ingle-15th year

  1. In pursuing my first trial consulting role, I was given a test (a rather dry description of a rate swap agreement gone awry). I read it and quickly lost interest, then tossed it aside. With a touch of stubbornness, I returned to it a week later and tackled it well enough to get my first job in the industry. That curiosity has driven me ever since;
  2. The first time I visited court to see our work in action (somewhere around 1994) – we had spent many hours perfecting a large display graphic timeline of events to tell the story of invention on a novel pharmaceutical. I was crestfallen to see our beautifully designed, printed and laminated 4’ x 12’ exhibit board propped up against the jury box facing the speaking attorney when I arrived during Opening Statements. The board was being used as a prompt (albeit a very expensive one), having failed to withstand objections from our client’s adversary. Some significant lessons from that day stay with me. Primarily: working so diligently to place events in time and wordsmith and think visually helped the lead attorney more than they would ever understand. Simply looking at the board helped him stay organized, confident and persuasive as he told his client’s story;
  3. I am proud that I published an article in the National Law Journal long before blogs. I had put a lot of effort into summing up what the previous 5 years had taught me, and I vetted it through senior consultants who were all too willing to help craft and improve it. I remember being in awe of the NLJ’s editor too. She further clarified my thoughts, that I’m even happier to say, hold up;
  4. At one point, deep into the culture at one of my stops along the way, I designed a jury research study to evaluate whether design matters when creating and using demonstratives to teach juries. It does. And I’m more than happy to talk about how my research surprised me. Click here to schedule time with me;
  5. Every case holds a surprise, something that’s never happened before.
  6. Highly educated and experienced experts are not necessarily the best teachers. It takes tact and a special kind of respect to help them recognize this to get a jury to grasp their contribution to a case;
  7. Time is measured by where you were and during which trial. Major life events happen around my trial schedule and help me to remember where I was, and when I was there;
  8. Connections are critical – a call out of nowhere led to an out of the box solution in a complicated patent case.
    Another enabled me to assuage an expert’s panic and deliver a German speaking graphic designer to assist her. Finding ways to say yes, are so much more effective than reasons to say no (but when no is warranted, say it quickly);
  9. I loved learning that a bench trial was no excuse to forego perfecting presentations. Judges are “jury of one,” and they get to interrupt and ask questions. Trial attorneys who prepare, prepare, prepare in ways that withstand such scrutiny and anticipate interruption enjoy an edge while advocating for their clients;
  10. Bringing out the best in your client may not be easy and may even be temporarily uncomfortable. It’s true in life too. Right before one of my favorite trial attorneys began his mock trial presentation, I told him one of the mock jurors complimented his partner (and mock adversary). I felt uneasy about whether I should have said it out loud, and especially right before he presented. He went on to deliver a fiery Opening that made me think it was just what he needed. I am judicious each time I apply similar techniques with others. When done right, it works;
  11. “This is a simple case” is almost always inaccurate. Many clients might want their case to be a simple one, and often they are committed to finding a way to get it there, but the process of doing so is complicated and time consuming, a counter-intuitive blend of expertise and confidence. Creating visuals to clarify complicated and nuanced information is an unforgiving process. If your idea doesn’t work, designing a visual to support it is one effective way to find out;
  12. “I don’t know,” is a valid answer. I remember the first time I felt the confidence to say it. The relief was immediate and led me to see the details perhaps as jurors would, which of course is the point sometimes when designing and rehearsing presentations;
  13. Photos of pets almost always soothe and comfort a war room. How could these faces not comfort?
  14. There is always something you can add to a situation: be brave, honest and willing to share;
  15. There is a place for beauty in demonstrative design. Simplicity is complicated. “No design” is a sophisticated choice. Typography matters. Empathy matters more.

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