Analyzing & Monetizing Construction Defect Claims

Virtually all construction or property related decisions should be made with costs in mind. But some people are afraid of math.

Regardless of whether you’re an attorney, insurance professional, property owner, or manager, you need to be able to focus on the “vital few” issues, and virtually ignore the “trivial many.” This means knowing how much things cost – not to the penny, but rather a reasonable approximation. The best place to start, when working to make smart economic decisions, is on the BIG expensive issues. You begin by chopping a project into logical parts, and estimating the cost of those chunks, so you can see the forest AND the trees. The earlier in the process you do this, the better.

Magna Legal Services hosted a webinar on January 27, 2021 (recording below), which featured expert panelists explaining the framework behind analyzing and monetizing construction defect claims.

“There’s a lot of parties involved [in a construction defect case]. You have to understand the structure and you have to speak the language… whether it’s the folks on the ground or in the board room, you have to be able to do both,” said Paul Danner of Goldberg Segalla.

Aileen Schwartz of Hill International, Inc. says she makes sure to bring in experts early on to prevent dragging out litigation. “I’ve had cases that were brought in and there were no damages against us. If there are no damages, there is no case”, she said.

If the case ends up going forward, it’s important that it is not a jury trial, Aileen noted, saying “nobody on a jury wants to listen to your construction defect claim. They’re falling asleep. You really need a judge who knows what you’re talking about to hear the cases.”

Every party wants to get the case settled sooner to avoid costly and timely litigation. Magna’s Scott Horwtiz said “Magna’s jury consultants are getting involved more and more on the early side of things to test theories and test themes to see if a small amount of money up front could take care of all of this”.

When preparing your case, organization is key. Pete Fowler explained the importance of starting with “a discreet list of issues — whether its one issue, or hundreds of issues.” In conjunction with the list of issues, Fowler utilizes “a sensible list of costs associated with each issue, and a sensible list of all the people who might be involved with each of those issues.” “It gets to be this big horrible matrix,” he added.

Watch the full webinar recording below to hear our expert panel break down these complex cases.

This webinar originally aired live on 1.27.2021

Webinar details:

Pete Fowler, Founder, Pete Fowler Construction
Scott Horwitz, Esq., National Director of Graphics Consulting & Trial Presentation, Magna Legal Services
Aileen R. Schwartz, Senior VP, Sr. Corporate Counsel US & Privacy Officer, Hill International, Inc.

Moderated by:
Paul S. Danner, Esq., Partner, Goldberg Segalla

Presented by:
Peter Hecht, Partner & Executive Vice President of Sales, Magna Legal Services

Learn more about utilizing trial graphics & tutorials for complex cases here.

Click here to view a list of more upcoming webinars & conferences.

Making Presentations Unforgettable: How a Consultant Can Maximize Your Impact

trial presentation consultant

With today’s reliance on technology in nearly every situation, it makes sense to use it in the courtroom, too. In fact, if you try to ignore the benefits of trial technology, you might be hurting your case, as your trial presentation will likely have less impact if it lacks visual aids like images and videos. Jurors are like consumers, they buy with their eyes. If you don’t want to miss out on the many advantages of using the latest technology in the courtroom, take a look at the role a trial presentation consultant could play in your case.

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The Impact and Benefits of Trial Technology

You use technology on a daily basis, whether to email and call clients or to read the latest news updates online. So if you aren’t using it in the courtroom, you’re missing out on many benefits. Trial technology can serve as a great asset to your case if used appropriately. If you’re interested in having a bigger impact on your audience in a shorter amount of time, here is how trial technology can help.

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Next Level Court Reporting: Why A Video Deposition is Worth It

Whether it’s a civil or criminal matter, court reporting is an essential aspect of winning your case. When breaking down the duties of a court reporter, though, the deposition is often considered to be one of the most important. The deposition ensures that you preserve witness testimony while avoiding any surprises at trial, but not all depositions are created equal. Court reporters that seamlessly provide video deposition services are often the most cost effective providers and in many instances the memorialized video deposition greatly increased the attorney’s chance of success thanks to the numerous benefits provided.

Benefits of a Video Deposition

When it comes to deposition services, video testimony provides the greatest tool for both witness presentation and impeachment. Every litigator has been in the position of having to read deposition designations to point out inconsistent witness testimony or when a witness is unavailable. By and large, jurors can become bored by the monotony of this practice. Also, this does not capture the person who is speaking and thus leaves the “witness” to the juror’s minds eye.

This problem, however, doesn’t exist when a video deposition is available. When you can show the judge or jury the witness speaking clearly into a camera, it becomes much more difficult for said witness to claim they didn’t understand the question or context, or even claim that their words were twisted or misconstrued. Video also provides you the opportunity to protect your own witnesses’ credibility if opposing counsel tries to manipulate what they said.

Additionally, court reporters who provide video deposition services help you gain a more in-depth deposition than with just a transcript alone. Far too often, witnesses will get off track when speaking during a written deposition. Their and their attorney’s knowledge that jury members will never see the actual conversation sometimes results in getting off the subject and a meandering testimony. When everyone understands that the deposition will be recorded, though, they’re more likely to “stick to the script.”

This allows you to streamline the deposition and come away with a cleaner transcript for use at trial or briefing. Depositions can last as long as necessary, but having the ever-watchful eye of a video camera motivates everyone involved to focus on getting all of the pertinent facts committed to evidence in a timely manner.

Paper Depositions & Video Depositions

While video deposition services provide a variety of benefits on their very own, the actual power of video becomes far more apparent when compared to paper depositions. Science has shown that the human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than it does text.

What this means is that judges and juries will be able to get a deeper understanding of what’s going on instantaneously. Fortunately, this benefit doesn’t just extend to judges and jury members. You will also be able to review a deposition and prepare your case in a more time-efficient manner than if you tried to sit down and pore back through volumes of written statements. And as any attorney can rightly attest to, time is money in the legal field.

In addition to being more cost-efficient by allowing you to more effectively use your preparation time, video deposition services also save on costs thanks to the ability to present testimony from witnesses whose location or medical condition prohibits them from coming into court.

Maybe the biggest benefit of video depositions is the ability to gain a deeper understanding of testimony by viewing body language. If you read a statement that says “I didn’t owe her any money” in court, it doesn’t say nearly as much as seeing the witness saying the same thing while rolling their eyes, sucking their teeth, and acting otherwise dismissive or insulting.

No matter what, being able to view a witness’s body language in addition to their words can speak volumes. This is why good court reporters will always use high-quality video depositions — preferably with multi-camera views so courtrooms will have every vantage point possible.

Video Depositions Are at the Forefront of Technology

Like most great industry tools, video deposition services don’t stop at basic functions. As technology evolves, so do video depositions. At Magna, for instance, the most up-to-date technology is utilized to provide video teleconferencing (VTC) and/or internet streaming services when performing video depositions via the Magna Legal Vision platform.

Since businesses using VTC and similar services reduce travel expenses by 30 percent, these techniques are beneficial both economically and technologically. In addition to utilizing the most advanced aspects of video technology, Magna also offers multimedia depositions. This means that trial exhibits can be displayed directly to the deposed while they’re offering a statement.

On top of all of this, the multimedia advancements utilized by Magna allow witnesses to annotate exhibits as they’re being deposed. This can turn into a powerful tool later at trial when the court sees the witness writing their own words via touchscreen monitors in relation to the exhibit at hand. And if this wasn’t enough, just imagine how powerful these multimedia tools can be in the hands of expert witnesses.

Video Deposition Is the Right Move

After utilizing video deposition services, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever want to switch back to paper and ink. Benefits, which range from pretrial to closing arguments, are just too numerous to overlook. Make sure you find a court reporter who offers video depositions in addition to the other tools you’d expect from a professional legal service agency.

For full-service court reporting services that provide video depositions, contact Magna today.

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Trial Consulting Overview: How Technology Changed the Face of Trial Consulting

Trial Consulting Overview: How Technology Changed Trial Consulting

Much has changed in the world of trial consulting over the years. These changes have included large increases in overall services and even putting more focus on factors outside of the jury. When looking at the trial consulting over the last decade, however, it becomes obvious that technology has created the biggest shifts in trial consulting.

Challenges for Trial Lawyers

Before understanding how significant of an effect technology has had on trial consulting, you must first recognize why such technologies were necessary. Americans sometimes have a propensity for creating solutions for nonexistent problems, but this wasn’t the case in the trial consulting world. In fact, the major issues came directly from professional legal experts themselves.

Imagine how much you know about your case that the jurors simply don’t have the appropriate education to understand. Once this issue is recognized, you can start using technology to improve your trial outcomes.

Know Your Audience

One of the greatest ways technology has affected trial consulting is by helping you to understand your audience. Sure there are spectators, bailiffs and even an opposing attorney in the courtroom, but they’re not your main audience. The jury needs to be your primary focus, and since they’re not trained in the world of law, it’s your job to speak to them in a language they understand.

One great innovation in trial consulting came thanks to the World Wide Web: online focus groups. Instead of figuring out the logistics of getting a few dozen people into a room at the same time, programs like Jury Confirm can handle everything online while still creating a realistic courtroom environment for your “jurors.”

It’s this type of technology that can help you speak to jurors in that mutually understood language. Too many attorneys are left saying “I can’t believe that’s important to them” or “I’m surprised they don’t understand that argument” after using online focus groups. Fortunately, this shows you where your shortfalls are, and from that point, you can figure out exactly how to correct them.

Courtroom Setup: Helping Your Jurors See Clearly

The difference in legal knowledge between you and the jurors is obviously an issue, but even something as simple as courtroom setup can cause your best points — no matter how well explained — to get lost in translation. The ability for trial jurors to be able to quickly see and comprehend visual evidence can sometimes be removed entirely due to courtroom setup.

Thinking deep into your trials, imagine for a moment that a juror cannot comprehend a visual exhibit because it’s excessively detailed. Even something as simple as being unable to see every word on a slide can stop jurors’ learning in its tracks. Just considering these two examples is enough to understand how big of a part courtroom setup plays in your case’s success.

As technology developed, however, even these issues started to fade away. By using the video, image and document presentation software in our courtroom/war room setup, you can ensure that jurors see the full picture every time. The presentation screen allows for interaction with the exhibit, so you and your witnesses can get the point across even more effectively.

Take a moment to learn more about our courtroom setup services and graphics consulting services.

Justice Doesn’t Have to Be Blind

The American legal system prides itself on the claim that justice is blind, but being blind means your eyes are closed. It means you’re at the mercy of others. What could be more terrifying than putting your case into the hands of 6–12 people you have never met and know nothing about?

Fortunately, you don’t have to live out that frightening scenario. Litigation consultants use their expertise to provide legal professionals and their clients with a look inside the mind of potential jurors. These insights include case perceptions, relevant analogies that will help get the point across and understanding individual jurors’ life experiences to better comprehend what impacts their attitudes.

This trial consulting overview provides only a snippet of what technology has done for the profession. Learn more about our jury consulting services to see how you can make your message crystal clear for the jury. And when you’re ready to take happenstance out of your case’s equation, contact us for a free case consultation to see how you can benefit from a litigation consultant.

Request a Free Case Consultation



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Legal Case Analysis: 3 Trial Strategy Tips for Improved Results

Legal Trial Strategy Tips

A chicago criminal lawyer learns a new language in law school. That language is dense with theory, legal jargon and even a few doses of Latin. While law students are encouraged to provide minute analyses of potential arguments or points at issue in every fact pattern, the legal practice areas are quite different, especially in a courtroom. In court, your audience is not a law professor, but a juror whose day-to-day life experiences may have little to do with the law or the subject matter of the case.

Lawyers must develop a rapport with jury members within the confines of trial rules, while clearly conveying their arguments to these decision-makers who may have no legal training. There may be only limited instruction on the technical aspects of the law. Understanding the unique perspective of jurors on a legal case is crucial to winning a verdict. To improve your chances for success, consider not only the strength of your argument but how to get your message across. To ensure that you are properly conveying your message, here are 3 trial strategy tips to consider.

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