Cogent Legal

How Graphics Helped a Trial Team Show Complex Data and Win

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 11.55.29 AMI love hearing the news that one of our clients had a great result using the work we did for them. The most recent big win I’m happy to report is Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, won a major lender liability/wrongful foreclosure action, obtaining a complete defense verdict in favor of its clients. Cogent Legal was hired to assist the Manatt trial team by creating graphics that helped bring order and understanding to this complex case.

The case involved Rincon Towers in San Francisco, which coincidentally is where I used to work; that’s where The Arns Law Firm set up shop when Bob Arns and I opened the firm in 1997. In 2007 Rincon Towers was purchased by the plaintiff in the case, who ultimately lost the property in foreclosure and sued multiple parties, seeking the property back and $40 million in damages. The case was a complex one involving many layers of parties, accountings on the properties and events over time. (For details on the case and the defense victory, read Manatt’s press release here).

Any complex transactional case such as this, which involves a great deal of accounting, lends itself to Excel spreadsheets that, by themselves, are not very helpful and make one’s eyes glaze over. We needed to help the trial team show a chronology of events and economic data based on the facts of the case and the experts’ opinions, so that the team could make their case to the judge as understandable and persuasive as possible. This was a bench trial, not a jury trial, which lends itself to more sophisticated or complex graphics, which are handed off to the judge and clerks so they can refer to them later as they’re writing the opinion.

Below are a few “sanitized” samples in which we changed the names of the witnesses and case information for the purpose of this blog post, but the samples illustrate the nature of the work Cogent Legal did on the case. (more…)

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