Recently, the GCResearchClub.com, a UK-based networking group for in-house lawyers, interviewed me about litigation graphics and case presentation. I excerpted some of the Q&A here. Many thanks to William Barns-Graham, content manager at the GC Research Club, for the interview.
Q: How important is visual presentation for a GC?
A: In the area of patents in particular, it’s huge…. GCs are often involved in the determination of which graphic firms are used for their companies because there is a lot of concern with getting up to speed with complicated cases. There are often numerous people and cases involved, so it makes sense to have the same graphics firm involved because it reduces the time it takes for people to learn the case. It creates time for them to understand the case inside and out so they can be real experts in explaining what needs to be explained for that particular client. The choice of a graphics firm is one area where it is very important for the GC to have input or control in who is used.
Q: How has technology changed the GC’s role?
A: One example that I give, is for those attorneys who have kids that are between the ages of 5 and 12, all of them are generally in class being asked to put together presentations themselves either with PowerPoint or Keynote. I’m often amazed by how well they do in terms of putting together good visual presentations with images, photos and words.
What I tell attorneys is, “You do not want to be shown up in a courtroom with graphics that are worse than everybody knows their 5 to 12-year-olds can do.” Sadly, attorneys at times are bringing in things that kids can do better. It doesn’t work anymore to say, “I don’t care about that technology—it doesn’t affect me” because it does—it’s the way people are looking at things.
Q: What is your favorite app and how can it help lawyers?
A: Keynote Remote. I like it with either the iPad or iPhone. I personally find the iPhone better as it’s easier to hold—it allows you to be able to use your phone as a controlling device to be able to control the presentation that you’re giving, and you can also have your presenter notes on your phone which is key because the most important thing with every presentation is to get rid of bullet points. Get words off of your screen as much as you possibly can—if you want bullet points, put them on your speaker notes, on your phone, but do not simply stand there reading what the audience is already seeing up on the screen—that is really frustrating for the audience. Keynote Remote is a great way of having your notes right there allowing you to have much more imagery on screen, which is great whether it’s a jury, your partners in a meeting or to potential clients.
Q: What other apps are you finding useful at the moment?
A: Bill 4 Time. It’s a fantastic program for billing, creating invoices, tracking time spent. It ties in with my iPhone, or any other phones with apps now, so when you’re out on the road you can easily add in your times and do invoices. That’s a great app. I’ve used it for two years and I’m very happy with it.
One that I use all the time on all of my devices is One Password, which allows you to have one very strong password in order to get into the program, and then it keeps track of all of your logins for all of the different websites on all your different devices. It can sync through Dropbox so that all of your passwords are up to date, and when you change your password on one device it automatically goes to all the others. In today’s world where everyone has 50-100 different logins, this allows you to keep track of them all. I use that every single day and would really recommend that anyone use it.
Q: You’ve gone from being a full-time litigator to a legal graphics and presentation specialist. What brought this about?
A: It was a number of years coming; I made the decision that I didn’t want to do litigation for the rest of my life a few years before actually making the jump. Litigation takes its toll on people. I took a trip around the world with my family for a year to decide what I wanted to do. Along the way I decided I just didn’t want to go back to litigation. That left open the question of what I was then going to do.
Sometimes as an attorney you look around and your options are somewhat limited in terms of going into other areas without doing more schooling, which I wasn’t terribly interested in. I realized that one of the things I enjoyed most about litigation was when I was doing trials and I’d do all of my own exhibits and create my own graphics for trial. I realized that I loved doing that work. It was this creative aspect of the law that interested me, so I decided to make a company that could do that for others and do the part of litigation I really enjoy.
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