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Show, Tell and Persuade

Thomas Combs & Spann

When commercial litigator Bryant Spann goes into a courtroom, he takes the trial graphics and courtroom technology expertise of Litigation Insights with him.

As any litigator will attest, a courtroom is an unpredictable pressure cooker. The courtroom is part chess game and part boxing match.

There are rules, protocols and procedures, but there are also many unscripted moments. Judges make new rulings, witnesses change testimony, and juries are sometimes confused by complex arguments.

Bryant Spann, a founding member of Thomas Combs & Spann, has seen his share of courtrooms and knows the environment well. As a former federal prosecutor, he has successfully tried a wide variety of criminal cases to verdict.

Since 2002, some of the country’s largest manufacturers and financial institutions have entrusted him with the defense of their biggest cases. Spann has most notably served on a national trial team in defense of mask, respirator, and asbestos cases.

A big hurdle in product liability cases is helping judges and juries understand how complicated products actually work. Sometimes there are moving parts or scientific concepts that are better explained using trial graphics and animations.

When Spann needs trial graphics and courtroom technology, he works with Litigation Insights. Adam Bloomberg is Litigation Insight’s managing director of Visual Communications and Adam Wirtzfeld is the Production Director.

“The Adams, as I like to call them, and their team get it and are very perceptive when it comes to designing and creating the best compelling graphic,” said Spann. “They are some of the best we’ve ever worked with and they also do well under pressure in the courtroom.”

Riding Shotgun on Courtroom Technology

“In order to be successful, we have to be at our best every time we go into court. There is no margin for error or indecision. I trust Litigation Insights with the trial graphics and presentation technology for my cases, and I appreciate having them side-by-side with us in the courtroom.”

– Bryant Spann, Partner, Thomas Combs & Spann

Litigation Insights has provided “hot seat” support for Spann numerous times. In this type of engagement, Bloomberg or someone from his team sits in the courtroom beside the attorneys managing technology and graphics assets. This ensures that the right slides get loaded and used at the right time.

“The courtroom setting is difficult enough without having to worry about loading and pacing presentation materials,” said Spann. “Litigation Insights makes sure that things run smoothly. They’re an important extension of our trial team.”

Unexpected courtroom events happen all the time and it pays to be prepared.

Spann tells the story of how he had planned to showcase and explain critical evidence one day in court, but the judge ruled it couldn’t be discussed in the case. The presentation had to change fast and Litigation Insights made it happen without missing a beat.

“In a courtroom setting, even if your plan isn’t going as expected – especially when you’re plan isn’t going as expected – you’ve got to remain calm and organized,” said Spann. “When we found out we couldn’t show much of our presentation that day, Adam quickly and quietly made the changes so we were in compliance with the judge’s ruling.”

Intuition and Experience Provide Insight and Value

Much of the information that Spann must present in a case can be tedious for judges and juries. Spann said Litigation Insights knows how to make the trial graphics appealing, engaging and understandable.

“The good thing about Litigation Insights is that all they need is a basic idea from us and they can run with it,” said Spann. “They bring experience and good ideas to the table and apply them.”

With hundreds of cases behind them, the Litigation Insights team has a good feel for what can work in certain situations. Getting points across with precision and clarity is always the goal.

“While every case is different, there are persuasive graphic communication fundamentals that never change like simplicity, economy of words, and memorable diagrams or flowcharts that leave the right impression,” said Bloomberg. “We work to strike the right balance of all those elements.”

Some of the most common types of graphic presentations needed by Spann include timelines and system or process explanations. For example, he recently had to explain and diagram the process for industrial safety equipment design and testing.

Spann said the Litigation Insights trial graphics team came through and delivered a comprehensive and understandable diagram of the process.

Spann said he recommends Litigation Insights to other attorneys as often as he can. He greatly values the relationship he has with the firm and looks forward to many more successful years of working together.

Trial Graphics & Courtroom Technology Essentials

1. Make sure you have all the elements assembled and that your story and graphics are complete. Is there a beginning, middle and end?

2. Place it in the correct format and on the right platform. Should you use a single static diagram on a blowup board, or is an animated sequence in PowerPoint more useful?

3. Present your graphics at the right time. Can your graphics be accessed, edited and presented on cue by you or someone on your team?