ABA Techshow

Infographics make the complex simple for a jury, presenter says

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There are few things in litigation more difficult than making the complex simple, says veteran trial lawyer Randy Juip, a partner at the Livonia, Mich., firm Foley, Baron, Metzger & Juip, but it’s part of a trial lawyer’s job.

And the best way to do that, Juip said in an ABA Techshow presentation Friday on Data, Logic, and Persuasion: the Analysis and Presentation of Complex Data to a Lay Audience, is to use infographics that will effectively illustrate your data without confusing the jury.

An infographic isn’t just an analysis of one set of data or a trend of data over time, but a persuasive analysis, presented in illustrations and charts, of multiple sets of different kinds of data compared and set forth in an order designed to make a specific point.

“It’s as if all of the data from your opening or closing argument was sucked out onto a poster and correlated in a clever and visually appealing way,” he said.

During his fast-paced presentation, which including more than 200 slides, Juip cited dozens of examples of how infographics combining reams of data can be used to illustrate a simple point, from one showing the average demographic of contributors to Wikipedia to one showing the geographic distribution of coffee drinkers who prefer Starbucks over Dunkin Donuts and vice versa.

“If you’re not presenting information visually at trial, you may as well be speaking to an empty room,” he said.

For inspiration, Juip recommended checking out dadaviz and statistician Nate Silver’s website FiveThirtyEight, both of which have mastered the art of presenting complex data visually.

For an important yet entertaining lesson on the difference between correlation and causation, he recommended a visit to Spurious Correlations, a website devoted to showing how two unrelated sets of data can be combined to suggest a causal relationship, such as one comparing the divorce rate in Maine with the per capita consumption of margarine in the U.S.

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