An attorney’s basic tool is the written and spoken word. But relying on words alone to persuade, especially in the modern age, is the equivalent of fighting with one hand tied your back. We know that human beings – whether judges or jurors – are visual learners. To help them to understand, be persuaded by, and retain the lawyer’s argument, they need to be shown, not just told. And the design and presentation of those graphics is an art form, worth every bit as much of the lawyer’s attention as the crafting of language.
From cave paintings to memes, pictures have served as a powerful form of communication. We live in an information age, where attention spans wane, social media reigns, and images bombard the eye. Yet the legal profession still relies mainly on the written and oral forms of communication rather than the visual. To ignore the visual form seems at best a missed opportunity and at worst an egregious mistake for lawyers, who seek to educate, enlighten, and persuade on behalf of clients on a daily basis. More often than not, the creation of a chart or graph to help make a point, or a timeline to explain the case, is a low priority, an afterthought, or something reserved for complex cases. However, visual aids can be a powerful tool in any case and should not be relegated to the bottom of the “to do” list. Now more than ever, a book like this is needed. It’s needed by the 99.9 percent of us who cannot write and orate brilliantly like Abraham Lincoln. It’s needed by those of us who have clients who depend on us to win the day or limit the damage done. The authors get it. They’ve seen and lived through all manner of litigation and disputes, from high-stakes trials where a thoughtful and well-timed demonstrative exhibit can mean the difference between winning and losing, to a government agency meeting where a simple but effective chart can help lead to closure of an investigation. In this book they’ve given us everything from the theory behind advocacy design to the building blocks of visual illustration and style. The Inspiration Index alone, found at the back of this book and replete with outstanding examples, is a tremendous resource. I know that I will keep this book amply tabbed and close at hand. Demonstratives require thought. They also take time and can be expensive. Like writing a good sentence, creating an effective demonstrative is not easy. When it’s done right, however, it looks effortless. Demonstratives force you to think about your case in a different way, with clarity, visually, and in a way that a fact finder can easily absorb. Sometimes a simple chart is all that is needed. Other times, a complex timeline with call outs and graphics is needed to sum up a case. As Professor Edward Tufte showed, evidence can be beautiful. Demonstratives can make the most complex set of facts more easily understood. As zealous advocates, we owe it to our clients to think creatively and help solve their problems with every tool at our disposal, especially the most powerful ones. This book will help all of us achieve that goal.