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Brainstorming helps develop effective visuals — identify the most important ideas with which to use visuals, and ensure that the graphics address all critical case issues. The results of a brainstorming session make it easy to communicate with artists about the purpose of each visual, and to test the effectiveness of the designs they develop. Brainstorming also helps control the ultimate cost of courtroom graphics. During the brainstorming session, you estimate the costs associated with your ideas and make informed trade-offs to keep demonstrative evidence expenses under control. The brainstorming process also reduces costs by minimizing the number of visuals that you won’t end up using in court. You can employ brainstorming techniques regardless of the size of your team, and brainstorming doesn’t require any artistic skill. On the contrary, brainstorming helps you do what you do best — digest the evidence to create the most forceful case possible, and translate that knowledge into a powerful set of visuals. PLAN AHEAD Schedule brainstorming sessions at least three months before trial. Plan to focus exclusively on demonstrative evidence rather than diluting discussions with other topics. Depending on the complexity of the case, set aside anywhere from three hours to a full day. Make sure senior members of the trial team are available to attend, and also understand that they are primary contributors. If outside graphic consultants have been hired to assist in the design and production process, also invite them to attend. Let all attendees (especially any artists and artist wannabes) know that paintbrushes must be checked at the door. The goal of the skull session is to develop a detailed list of the most important demonstrative evidence ideas, not to design the visuals that will communicate the ideas. Keeping idea definition separate from design development yields better ideas, better designs, and reduced costs. Assign one attendee to the role of scribe. Using a computer with an LCD projector attached, that person will capture the results of the proceedings. This setup makes it easy for participants to view the list of ideas being discussed, and easy for the scribe to make revisions as the session proceeds. Set up a “demonstrative evidence worksheet” to organize everyone’s thoughts. Such a worksheet might consist of a table comprised of rows and columns that using word-processing or database software. Each row represents a single demonstrative evidence idea, and the corresponding columns will capture critical information about each idea. There should be columns for: Title, Type, Issue(s), Mission Statement, For Use By, Data Source, Estimated Cost, Key, and Production Status. Develop an outline of the issues in the case. This outline can be used to ensure ideas are developed for all case issues. By having this outline completed before the session, the risk of turning demonstrative evidence brainstorming session turns into issue outlining discussion is minimized. Finally, circulate a memo laying out the objectives, agenda, and ground rules for the brainstorming session. Include the issue outline as an attachment. THE BRAINSTORMING PROCESS Begin your session by reviewing the agenda, and making sure all attendees understand the ground rules. Then plunge right in! There are three phases in the meeting: (1) developing ideas, (2) fleshing out the details behind each, and (3) evaluating your ideas to determine which make the cut. DEFINE IDEAS Create an exhaustive list of demonstrative evidence ideas. At this stage, all ideas are great ideas. Avoid debating the merits of any idea; simply build your list. Don’t worry — your chance to eliminate lame ideas will come soon enough. Capture Favorites:Over the months or years of working up a case, trial team members have no doubt built up a mental list of favorite demonstrative evidence ideas. Offer each attendee a chance to contribute. Give each idea a working title and have the scribe enter it in the worksheet. In the worksheet’s Type column, list your expectation regarding the medium that will be used for each visual: blow-up, chart, model, animation, video, and so forth. Work Issue By Issue: Once everyone has had a chance to list pent-up ideas, break out the issue outline you prepared in advance of the meeting. Work through it issue by issue, and develop additional ideas that will help communicate your position on each issue. For each idea, capture a working title and indicate the type of visual you expect to produce. FLESH OUT IDEAS After generating the list of graphic ideas, it’s time to work back through them one by one and add critical details about each. Capture Issue Relationships:Use the Issue(s) column in the worksheet to capture the name of the issue or issues on which each visual will help you prevail. Once you’re done, tally the number of visuals you have planned for each case issue. Some issues may have a multitude of graphics and others have too few. If this is the case, take corrective action. Define Mission Statements:In the Mission Statement column, capture a description of the intended impact of each visual, i.e., what the trier of fact should think after seeing it. Make explicit the inference jurors should draw. If the group struggles to define the mission of the visual, kill the idea. Mission Statements play an important role in the process of designing the actual visuals. They keep artists focused on the communication goal of each visual. And they provide a benchmark by which to judge the success of your artists’ design efforts. One caveat: The Mission Statement should define what you want to communicate, not how it should be done. List Who Will Use The Visual:In the For Use By column of your worksheet, identify the witness or other trial segment (e.g., opening or closing) with which each visual is to be used. If you’re unsure, enter a question mark. If you’re trying to decide between a number of candidates, list their names followed by question marks. Capture The Data Source:In the Data Source column, name the piece(s) of evidence on which each visual will be based. Sometimes the source is obvious. However, many times it is unclear and needs to be defined for the artist. For example, suppose you’re working up an antitrust case and want a visual showing the defendant’s market share over time. Where is this data coming from? Don’t let artists design a visual before the data that underpins it is ready. Frequently, the actual data doesn’t have the oomph that was anticipated and the idea must be abandoned. The result: time and money down the drain. EVALUATE Once the list of demonstrative evidence ideas has been fleshed out, step back and assess its merits. Evaluate the absolute value of each idea, as well as its value relative to its likely costs and relative to the potential impact of other competing ideas. Estimate Cost:Based on input from graphics consultants or prior experience developing courtroom graphics, estimate the cost of each visual and mark this appraisal on the worksheet. Evaluate Criticality:Discuss the relative merits of each visual, taking the cost estimate into consideration. Use the Key column in the worksheet to flag the most important ideas. If the cost of your visuals exceeds the budget, refer to this assessment to determine which ideas to push overboard. Give the Green Light:Finally, identify the ideas that the artists can start to design. Also be sure to assign members of the trial team to fill in whatever missing data remains. Status:Update the Production Status column of the worksheet based on these determinations. As the visuals proceed through the production process, track the progress by moving each idea along this continuum of possible values: Unapproved Idea, Approved Ideas — Awaiting Data, Being Designed, Design Approved, In Production, and Produced. Follow-Up:After the brainstorming session, ask the individual who acted as scribe to distribute copies of the Demonstrative Evidence worksheet. When artists submit mock-ups of the visuals, use the information contained in your worksheet to critique their designs. CONCLUSION Soon enough, by following the steps outlined above, you’ll be the proud owner of a winning set of courtroom graphics. Investing a few hours in a demonstrative evidence brainstorming session will have paid handsome returns. Copyright 2001 Greg Krehel. All rights reserved. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Greg Krehel is CEO of DecisionQuest’s CaseSoftdivision. CaseSoft is the developer of the popular software tools CaseMap, TimeMap, and NoteMap. CaseMap makes it easy to organize and explore the facts, the cast of characters, and the issues in any case. TimeMap makes it a cinch to create chronology visuals for use during hearings and trials, client meetings and brainstorming sessions. NoteMap makes it easy to create, edit, and use outlines. In addition to his background in software development, Mr. Krehel has over 15 years of trial consulting experience. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected]or telephone at (888) 227-3763. ABOUT THE TECHNOLAWYER COMMUNITY This article appeared in The TechnoLawyer Community, a free online community in which legal professionals share information about business and technology issues, products, and services, often developing valuable business relationships in the process. To join The TechnoLawyer Community, visit the following Web site: http://www.technolawyer.com.

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