Magna Legal Services is offering FREE CLEs & CEs for you and your office at no cost to your firm!
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Private Virtual CLEs & CEs are also available!
See below for a list & descriptions of the courses we offer.
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Magna Legal Services CLE Course Brochure
Courses are approved for 1.00 general credit for the states listed. Magna can apply for other states but cannot guarantee approval. Magna covers CLE credit for one state per presentation and can add additional states for a fee.
1.00 general credit
This CLE presentation discusses the proliferation of nuclear verdicts around the country, some of the psychological reasons behind such verdicts, and provides practical advice for defendants as to how to avoid being on the receiving end of a nuclear verdict. Traditional versus new and recommended defense approaches to damages will be discussed – specifically, the concept of low anchoring – supported by academic research as well as jury research case studies.
- There is a quite a bit of psycho-legal research on the tangible and powerful impact of anchoring with damages figures, and that research is consistent that when a defendant suggests a low anchor figure to counter the high demand from a plaintiff, this more often than not results in a lower total damages award than when the defendant does not put forth an alternative figure.
- The concern defendants share about offering an alternative damages number is that doing so will undermine their liability defenses. In other words, if a defendant vehemently denies liability (such that the plaintiff’s damages should be nil), but then suggests an alternative damages figure, do jurors infer that the defendant does not actually believe in its own liability defenses and in fact agrees it should pay some amount of damages.
- Magna’s consultants have researched this issue using nationwide surveys over the past two years, and prospective jurors around the country are evenly split as to whether they feel a defendant loses credibility when offering a counter figure or whether they understand this is a necessary part of the trial process and has nothing to do with a defendant’s belief in its own liability defenses.
- Despite jurors’ mixed reactions to this defense strategy of low anchoring, research has not demonstrated an increased chance that a jury finds liability when a defendant presents an alternative number versus when the defendant does not suggest a counter figure. If there is no predictable effect on a finding of liability, then the answer for most defendants is to offer the lower number, because the research is clear that verdicts are significantly lower in the presence of a low anchor from the defense versus when defendants do not proffer an alternative number.
Combatting the Reptile
1.00 general credit
Extreme verdicts are popping up all over the country in various types of cases. For example, we’ve all seen verdicts in the opioid, asbestos and tobacco litigation in the hundreds of millions to even billions of dollars, and what’s notable about these extreme verdicts is that they are for a singular plaintiff. If you’d asked any seasoned defense attorney / insurance adjuster where they’d value the case when it first came across their desks, it’s doubtful any would have thought they were worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Some because of the fact pattern, and some because the verdict would exceed any other verdict in a similar case type in the venue and even the country.
One of the key drivers of these extreme verdicts is the proliferation and overwhelming success of plaintiff strategies based in the reptile theory.
Generally, the reptile approach seeks to focus on a particular safety rule / policy which if not followed, equates to danger for the plaintiff, jurors, their loved ones, and the community in which the defendant operates. If a given defendant violates said rule / policy, the tactic is intended to evoke fear and anxiety in jurors and empower them to protect their community and send a message to the defendant through a large verdict. The tactic puts jurors at risk for burden shifting, leading with emotion, and in some cases, taking a punitive tone in their assessment of damages, even where no punitive claim exists. Some claim that over $6 Billion in verdicts and settlements can be credited to the Reptile Theory since its introduction in 2009.
This presentation provides practical tips for combatting the reptile approach, preventing or containing jurors’ fear and anger, and mitigating damages. The strategies discussed include conditioning the venire and de-selecting high-risk jurors, leading with compassion, taking responsibility (not necessarily conceding liability), humanizing the defendant, preparing the storytellers (aka, your witnesses), resetting expectations and extinguishing fear, providing a damages counter figure/low anchor, and focusing on the positive.
COVID-19 Jury Research Data
1.00 general credit (CA, FL, IL, PA, TX)
The disruption caused by the pandemic has dramatically altered how jurors think about issues like government oversight, personal and corporate responsibility, risk, fairness and other concepts central to juror deliberations and rendering a verdict.
This course covers new research data on changed juror attitudes across the country in the time of the pandemic. Our panelists will discuss the practical impact of this research on jury selection strategies, with a particular emphasis on cases involving financial services, technology and life sciences companies.
Effective Witness Communication
1.00 general credit (AL, CA, DE, FL, GA, IL, LA, MS, PA, TX)
This course is designed to train attorneys on how to effectively prepare a witness for deposition and/or trial testimony. The course discusses the psychology of being a witness – their biggest fears and concerns, and how attorneys can help assuage those hang-ups that often make witnesses ineffective through proper preparation, communication training, and practice. The course provides examples of good and bad testimony, as well as techniques that attorneys and their consultants can teach witnesses in order to ensure they present well and are able to effectively deliver the substantive message and case themes/storyline, even during cross-examination.
How Jurors Value Claims & Generational Differences Among Jurors
1.00 general credit (IL, PA, TX)
The perception that damage awards from personal injury litigation could be seen as jurors being out of control, but a closer look inside the numbers tells another story. A review of the data demonstrates a consistency in that economic damages are correlated with non-economic; they rise and fall together based on the severity of the observed injuries. Although damage awards may at times appear subjective, the rationale adopted by most jurors follow predicable patterns. Anchors are discussed for the impact they can have on verdicts as well as the need for meaningful anchors to come from the defendants. Implications for alternative damages arguments are discussed.
Generational differences in terms of how claims are valued are reviewed, and in particular, how the growing percentage of Millennials within the jury pool may differ from other generational cohorts in their approach and decision making regarding appropriate levels of damages.
Social Media Can Help Win Your Case
1.00 general credit (CA, FL, IL, LA, NJ, PA, TX)
Social Networking is the hot new trend in many aspects of the legal profession but how many attorneys really understand its implications in the litigation process. How does social networking affect discovery? How can social networking be used during voir dire, trial and post-verdict? These and other topics will be addressed which demonstrate rules and best practices each lawyer should know to render social networking research a valuable and powerful tool.
1.00 general credit (AL, CA, FL, IL, NJ, OR, PA, TX)
Jurors are often overwhelmed with the amount and complexity of information presented to them at trial. Based on our experience having worked on hundreds of jury cases throughout the United States, the CLE will offer our insights into jury psychology and the key issues that determine how jurors make verdict determinations. The presentation also will include our research on how jurors determine damages. Recommendations for effectively communicating difficult concepts and persuading a lay jury will be discussed.
Jury Selection – Voir Dire Strategies
1.00 general credit (CA, MA)
This presentation covers psychological theories for effective voir dire and jury selection strategies. We will discuss the most productive development and deployment of voir dire questions, designed to ferret out the likely worst prospective jurors for your case for purposes of (de-)selection. The presentation will also provide strategies for approaching voir dire as well as practical tips for exercising cause challenges and peremptory strikes during the (de-)selection process.
Maximizing Litigation Graphics
1.00 general credit (AL, CA, FL, IL, NJ, PA, TX)
This program will address various practical issues on the use of graphics in adversarial proceedings. Tied in with examples of graphics and the strategic impact of their use will be a range of topics from the field of jury research and consulting. Various types of graphics from still images to animations will be demonstrated with the intent of explaining the interaction of strategic graphic design and the connection to case themes. Evidentiary issues surrounding the use of graphics at trial will also addressed. Finally, pitfalls and graphical “tricks” will be addressed.
Navigating the Juror Maze
1.00 general credit (AL, CA, FL, IL, NJ, PA, TX)
This CLE will address a wide range of issues surrounding jury selection and the juror decision making process inherent in 21st Century juries. Topics will include: what and how jurors want to see and hear evidence in a case, juror bias and predispositions, jury decision making framework, juror learning styles and information retention, damages determinations, and issues incumbent with the verdict form.
Remote Depositions: Practical Tips & Logistical Considerations
1.00 general credit (AL, CA, FL, GA, IL, MO, NV, PA, TX)
Given the current shift to working remotely, there is a need to advance litigation using virtual resources. One such tool is the ability to take and defend depositions online/remotely. Magna Legal Services has been facilitating remote depositions for over a decade, and its consultants have amassed several helpful tips and tricks for attorneys and witnesses in order to ensure they go smoothly and that witness performance is optimal. This CLE will share Magna’s consultants’ practical tips and logistical considerations for online depositions. The CLE will explain how remote depositions work, including the capabilities of a remote deposition platform, and will provide advice to attorneys on how to prepare themselves and their witnesses for the online format. In any format, in-person or online, witness preparation:
- Reduces or eliminates witness anxiety
- Clarifies the deponent’s role in the case
- Helps deponents stay on message
- Assists in developing a credible conversational tone
- Identifies and mitigates any non-verbal issues, such as tics, fidgeting or eye-rolling
- Provides techniques for effectively handling documents and exhibits
Witness preparation specifically for the virtual environment eliminates the added layer of anxiety from a “new” setting by working on the below:
- Deponents can feel “alone” without counsel, so a practice session with the platform can help diminish this
- Review procedures for pauses, objections, and exhibits
- Instruct deponent where to look for the most natural and effective presentation (particularly if being recorded)
- Get comfortable with the features of the remote platform (i.e., chats, mute, viewing exhibits, etc.)
- Coaching on attire and effective posture
Strategies for Winning Patent Jury Trials
1.00 general credit (CA, IL, NJ, PA)
The CLE will present research on how jurors in patent cases process information presented to them. It is generally believed that because of their highly complex scientific and technological concepts, jury trials in patent cases are inherently unpredictable. Based on our experience conducting jury research in intellectual property cases, we have found that although the subject matter in these trials is complicated and extremely tedious, jurors’ tend to focus on specific information for their verdict determinations. Recommendations for patent trial attorneys are also discussed.
The Ethical Use of Graphics
1.00 ethics credit (PA, FL) 1.00 general credit hour (CA, DE, IL, NC, NJ, SC, TX)
The CLE will discuss how graphics are a valuable litigation tool when they are used correctly. The CLE will touch on how to provide a visual aspect to the jury, so that they will be able to gain a better understanding and a more in-depth feel for what is going on in the case. The effectiveness of the demonstrative evidence is key to the success of a case. The CLE helps clarify what types of graphics are admissible. In order to be admissible, they must be authenticated, be accurate, complete, fair, and relevant to the case. Graphics are used to help guide the jury and assist them in understanding the important aspects of the case.
The Science of Storytelling
1.00 general credit (FL, IL, NJ, PA, TX)
In this program, we outline the key story components and provide an introduction into the neuroscience of storytelling. For an attorney, better story comprehension means that jurors are able to utilize more of the information presented to them heading into the deliberation room. Over the last decade, neuroscience researchers have begun to identify the key brain anatomy associated with storytelling in order to understand why stories are so impactful and memorable. The main finding from this research has been that our brains actually prefer stories and are shown to be more active when listening to narratives compared to simply hearing information in sequential order. Furthermore, using existing neural networks within these structures allow us frame our stories in a way jurors can relate to. Trial presenters can target these brain regions and to enhance brain activity, neurochemical release and overall, tell a better trial story.
Trial Strategy for Millennial Jurors
1.00 general credit (CA, FL, IL, NJ, PA, TX)
Millennials (also known as Gen-Y) represent an increasingly important segment of a jury pool. This CLE will provide an overview of the millennial generation and their attitudes, beliefs and communication styles as well as characteristics and expectations of this generation of jurors. Finally, an overview of voir dire considerations, trial presentation and myths and perceptions as to damages will be covered.
Use of Social Media in Defending Claims
[Approved in CA, FL, GA and TX]
Jury Decision Making: How Jurors Value Claims & Generational Differences Among Jurors
[Approved in CA, FL and TX]
COVID-19: Juror Views in Pandemic Times
[Approved in CA, FL and TX]
Click below to check out Magna’s upcoming conferences & webinars, many of which offer CLE credit & distinguished networking opportunities!