November 8, 2020 • By Dennis Beaver
Trial lawyers are known for trying cases before juries. But here’s a question for you:
“What is the last thing a trial lawyer wants to do?”
If you thought, “Lose a case,” that’s one answer, but even before that, what?
It is having to go to trial in the first place, as a jury verdict in your favor is never a sure thing.
So, with that in mind, what are many trial lawyers doing today to reduce the chances of having to take their cases to trial? And, why could this be important to readers of this column who one day could find themselves in a David and Goliath battle with an insurance company?
Helps keep you out of court
Rob and Keiko Feldman have a one-word answer to those questions: Storytelling.
The couple met while working at NBC news and, if you want an example of what makes our country such a great place to start a business, they did just that, founding Pasadena-Based Juris Productions, applying the skills of video storytelling to the legal profession.
“Dennis, just think of the reaction you get when watching programs like NBC Dateline or 48 Hours on CBS. These documentary programs factually portray events that are often so moving,” Keiko said.
“That’s what legal video production companies do,’ Rob points out, “creating video documentaries for trial lawyers to use in their pre-trial negotiations. We refer to ourselves as expert storytellers. When we started in 2002 there were a handful of similar companies across the country and now there are at least 10 doing about the same thing.”
Worth a thousand words
There is a common belief that insurance defense attorneys are the Big Bad Wolf, trying to defeat a reasonable settlement for what are often catastrophic injuries or loss of property.
But that really isn’t accurate, as defense attorneys do not want to have their heads handed to them on a silver platter with a multi-million-dollar jury verdict that should have settled for much less, but the insurance company didn’t understand just how horrible a case they had.
This is where legal video production companies are a tremendous help to both the injured party and the defense attorney who actually wants to get the case settled. Recognizing the power of the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” they accomplish this by:
– Filming the client, showing challenges and obstacles plaintiffs face.
– Interview experts as to the injuries and what they must deal with in the future.
– Interviewing liability experts who explain what happened, the cause of the injury and why it should not have happened.
“Elements of proof that the attorney will use should the case go to trial and are presented to defense counsel, showing the strongest part of the plaintiff’s case. So that when they go to mediation the defense can’t claim they did not know how strong case it was. It shows that the plaintiff is serious,” Keiko notes.
“Defense attorneys have a problem,” Rob points out. “Often they are too immersed in the case to understand what the plaintiff is facing. These documentaries let them see what a jury will see when someone is on the stand. And they now are able to convince the insurance carrier that a settlement is in their best interest. It helps to motive a settlement. It is seen as more useful information about the case, and makes the difference between going to trial or not.
“Also,” Keiko underscores, “we approach it in the same way as if we were doing a news story at NBC. We do not tell anyone what to say. We approach it as journalists. It is not scripted before we do the interview.”
A day in the life video
No matter how hard lawyers try to settle cases, some will go to trial. And here is where companies like Juris Productions offer something that requires having a box of Kleenex handy, “A Day in the Life” videos.
“This is evidence for trial, literally a fly-on-the wall video following the plaintiff go about their day. There are no interviews, just the actual challenges an injury victim is going through and may face for the rest of their lives,” Rob says.
“This allows a jury to see reality in a news magazine format. So, when you hear that someone has an injury, and faces enormous obstacles to daily living, these videos are powerful.”
At some time in the future any one of us could be seriously injured and need to tell our story to a jury. A visit to Rob and Keiko’s website is well worth the time. But have that box of Kleenex handy.
Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.