By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
A trial lawyer prepares for opening statement. All the exhibits are ready and in order, the structure is laid out, and the themes are in place. Now, let's just add in a few visuals -- a timeline and perhaps a couple of charts -- and it will be the icing on the cake, right? Wrong. In the battle for attention, influence, and retention, what jurors see will be a very big part of what they remember and use. For that reason, visual demonstrative exhibits are not something that you should just tack on after the substance of your presentation is already done. Instead these images should be integral to the message itself. In other words, it's not the icing, it's the cake.
For trial lawyers and others who want to fully put that into practice, there is a new and enormously useful resource. Written by Jones Day Partner Kerri L. Ruttenberg, the book is Images With Impact: Design and Use of Winning Trial Visuals (2017). The American Bar Association publication drives home the message that, for the working trial lawyer, the visual dimension cannot be an afterthought but needs to be thought out in advance, thoroughly and strategically. And the book is a great tool for doing exactly that. It can be used in a number of ways, providing practical and theoretically informed reasons and ways to use visuals in court. Rewarding either as a straight-through read or as a skim-able reference, the book is useful for trial or for other professional presentations. Ruttenberg also practices what she preaches, including well-prepared illustrations on nearly every page.
In this short review, I will call out four main advantages that I see in the book.