Attorney Journals, Orange County, Volume 214

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Volume 214, 2024 $6.95

Offline and Online Advertising— They’re a Team!


Essential Tips for Lawyers to Follow After a Pitch

Is Your Location Near Your Competition?

Stefanie Marrone

Kirk Stange

3 Ways Lawyers Realize ROI by Collaborating with Outside Writers

4 Reasons Law Firms Should Have CRM Integrations

Wayne Pollock

5 Key Considerations for Using 3D Animation for Litigation

Brian Schutzman

Chris Fritsch Take Responsibility (Without Conceding Liability)

Ken Broda-Bahm, Ph.D. 7 Ways Legal Bill Review Software Can Trim Your Expenses

Lauren Burnside

Attorney of the Month

Lauren Johnson-Norris CPS Law Group, Orange County Fearless Fighting for Families


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2024 EDITION—NO.214

TABLE OF CONTENTS 6 Take Responsibility (Without Conceding Liability) by Ken Broda-Bahm, Ph.D.

8 Essential Tips for Lawyers to Follow After a Pitch by Stefanie Marrone

10 Is Your Location Near Your Competition? by Kirk Stange


12 Three Ways Lawyers Realize ROI by Collaborating with Outside Writers by Wayne Pollock

EDITOR Wendy Price

14 Offline and Online Advertising— They’re a Team!


by Omnizant



16 Lauren Johnson-Norris of CPS Law Group, Orange County Fearless Fighting for Families

PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Griffiths STAFF WRITERS Dan Baldwin Jennifer Hadley CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Ken Broda-Bahm, Ph.D. Lauren Burnside Chris Fritsch Stefanie Marrone Omnizant Wayne Pollock Brian Schutzman Kirk Stange ADVERTISING INQUIRIES SUBMIT AN ARTICLE OFFICE 30213 Avenida De Las Banderas Suite 200 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 ADDRESS CHANGES Address corrections can be made via email or postal mail.


by Dan Brown


22 Seven Ways Legal Bill Review Software Can Trim Your Expenses by Lauren Burnside

24 Four Reasons Law Firms Should Have CRM Integrations by Chris Fritsch

26 Five Key Considerations for Using 3D Animation for Litigation by Brian Schutzman


Editorial material appears in Attorney Journals as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journals. Attorney Journals makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journals is a trademark of Sticky Media. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2024 by Sticky Media. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media. Printed in the USA

Take Responsibility (Without Conceding Liability) by Ken Broda-Bahm, Ph.D.

I will admit up front that the title for this one might sound like someone trying to weasel out of something: Trying to gain the psychological benefit of “stepping up” without the legal liability that many might see as going along with that. And, it must be said, there’s a real risk that a jury will see it as such. At the same time, there is an important distinction to be made. Legal liability is a narrow concept, and that is intentional. The broader notion of “responsibility” is not the same thing in all situations. For that reason, civil defendants might want to devote some thought and craft some language focusing on what that distinction could mean in the context of a specific case. In the book Nuclear Verdicts: Defending Justice for All, attorney Robert Tyson emphasizes the need to address a jury’s motivation to “send a message” through a large damages award, and that this message often requires credibly presenting oneself as the party that embraces relevant responsibility rather than ducking it. But the finer point is that this means asking jurors to distinguish between the broad responsibility in using what power you have to avoid or address bad outcomes and the narrower legal liability that is tied to the instructions. In this article, my goal is to play out that dissection in a few contexts and to share some ways to make it clearer for jurors. If you’ve watched a few mock trials, you may know that it is very common for mock jurors to miss the nuance, with a “They admitted it!” reaction potentially being tied to any acknowledgment from the defense side, or even to a conditional argument on an alternate damages amount. The message needs to be delivered not just once, but repeatedly as part of a trial theme. That is why it helps for defendants to have a comprehensive and tested message. The success of any message will depend on the specifics of your case and venue, but in the remaining sections of this post, I’ll suggest four types of message, or levers to draw a distinction—all efforts to say we’re responsible “for this, but not that.”

The Control Lever (Responsibility for What You Can Control, Not for What You Can’t) The first common way to distinguish between a responsibility (that you are accepting) and a liability (that you are denying)


Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024

is to focus on what is within your power, and to appeal to the commonsense notion that you embrace the ability to control what is in your sphere, but that the factors that the plaintiff is trying to turn into liability are outside that sphere: When Smithco designs a product like this, we take responsibility for a vast array of factors: testing, design, manufacture, quality control, and more. We know we will be held responsible for all of those factors, and we want that responsibility. But there is one thing we cannot fully control, and that is the choices that an individual makes when using this product improperly.

The Time Lever (Responsibility for What We Know Now, Not for What We Didn’t Know Then) A second lever of distinction is to focus on time. While disabusing jurors of hindsight can be notoriously difficult to do, in some cases the effort to separate past from present knowledge is essential to the liability defense. To reinforce the difference, a defendant can embrace what is known now through hindsight, while separating that from the constructive knowledge at the time that would have created legal liability: At this point, we know what illness Ms. Johnson had, and we know that due to the benefit of one thing: hindsight. And, of course, we will use that knowledge when it comes to her continuing care. We will even use that knowledge when it comes to the care of other patients, and when it comes to looking at our practices going forward. But one thing we can’t use that present knowledge for is a decision in the past. Limited to what was known then, we can responsibly only order the tests that are indicated by the symptoms at the time, and not the tests that we only now know might have helped.

The Legal Lever (Responsibility for a Practical Error, Not for Legal Liability) A third lever appeals to the notion that not every mistake, and not every wish to have done something differently translates into liability since the legal standard for civil liability is purposefully narrow. Defendants can agree with what might be the inescapable conclusion that “we could have done better” without necessarily conceding specific liability:

When we entered a contract with Bigco, we weren’t blind to the risks. We knew that we had to ask for strict guarantees, and we did. In hindsight, we were still too trusting, and some of those who negotiated the deal for us still let personal relationships overpower legal considerations. We could have done a better job of protecting ourselves. We acknowledge that, and you can bet the company will take greater care in the future. But none of that changes the fact that Bigco was the party who breached first—by the time we left the deal, there was no contract left to breach.

The Policy Lever (Responsibility for Policies, Not Necessarily for Personnel) While in some cases the concept of agency locks in the legal conclusion that the responsibilities of personnel are absorbed by the company, in other cases that won’t be true. Where there are grounds to distinguish, companies may need to emphasize that the systems the company set up do work, but unfortunately individual irresponsibility caused those systems to not be followed in this case: This school is committed to creating a safe environment for kids. That means comprehensive background checks for all adults coming in contact with kids. That means clear policies forbidding inappropriate contact and referring issues to law enforcement. That means clear requirements for adults to be mandated reporters whenever they see something legitimately suspicious. The school takes responsibility for

all of that, and it is a big responsibility. We don’t shy away from that responsibility, we embrace it. What the school can’t take responsibility for, though, is when a person chooses to commit a crime, and when that person unfortunately succeeds in keeping their crime a secret. These are a few of the most essential ways of separating responsibility from liability, but there are surely others. There may even be ways of drawing that distinction that are completely unique to your case. Based on the traditions and training of many defense attorneys, the reaction to some of these messages might be, “Why admit anything?” That tack might appeal to a logical motivation to make the target on your back as small as possible. But increasingly in an age of nuclear verdicts, an “admit nothing” approach does not appeal to jurors’ psychological motivation to reward good behavior and to punish bad behavior. To avoid being on the latter end of that stick, defendants should devote serious thought to what levels of responsibility they can safely adopt in the context of a specific case. n Ken Broda-Bahm, Ph.D. is a Senior Litigation Consultant at Holland & Hart in charge of assisting plaintiffs and defendants seeking to maximize their message effectiveness in jury trial, bench trial, arbitration, and mediation settings by providing strategic advice, messaging, opening statement assistance, witness preparation, demonstrative exhibit advice, jury selection, mock trial and focus group research. Learn more at


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Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024


Mastering the Art of the Follow-Up: Essential Tips for Lawyers to Follow After a Pitch by Stefanie Marrone

As Tom Petty said, “the waiting is the hardest part.” After delivering a compelling pitch to a prospective client, the follow-up email is a crucial step in nurturing that initial connection and continuing the conversation. For lawyers, this is more than just a courtesy—it’s an opportunity to solidify the relationship and demonstrate the value they can bring to the table. Here’s a guide on how to craft an effective follow-up email that resonates with potential clients. 1. Express Gratitude with a Personal Touch: Begin your follow-up with a personalized thank-you note. This gesture of appreciation for the client’s time and consideration sets a positive tone for your email. Make sure to reference specific topics or discussions from the pitch to show your attentiveness and genuine interest. 2. Recap the Highlights: Include a brief summary of the key points from your pitch. Highlight how your legal expertise aligns with their needs. This recap helps in reinforcing your message and keeps the critical aspects of your proposal at the forefront of the client’s mind. 3. Provide Additional Resources: If during your pitch you promised additional information or resources, ensure to include these in your follow-up. Attach relevant case studies, blog posts, whitepapers or links to articles that offer deeper insights into how you can address their specific legal concerns. 4. Clarify the Next Steps: Outline a clear and concise action plan. Detailing the next steps, whether it’s a proposed timeline or a schedule for future meetings, provides clarity and shows your proactive approach. 5. Share Success Stories: Including client testimonials or case studies relevant to the prospect can significantly boost your credibility. These success stories act as evidence of your proficiency and experience in handling similar cases. 6. Offer Tailored Legal Insights: A brief analysis or legal insight related to the client’s industry or situation can be very impactful. This demonstrates not only your expertise but also your commitment to providing value beyond the standard pitch. 8

Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024

7. Encourage Further Dialogue: Invite them to reach out for any additional information or discussion. Providing direct contact details and ensuring they feel comfortable to engage further is key in building a trusting relationship. 8. Attach Useful Documents: If you referenced any brochures, service descriptions, lawyer CVs or other materials during your pitch, attach these documents to your email. Make sure they are easily accessible and relevant. 9. Consider a Personalized Video Message: A short, personalized video message can be a unique and engaging addition to your follow-up. It adds a personal touch that can differentiate you from others. 10. Suggest an Educational Session: Offer to host an educational session at their office or virtually via Zoom. This can be a workshop, webinar or Q&A session tailored to their specific needs or interests. It’s an excellent way to showcase your expertise, provide additional value and build a stronger connection with the potential client. 11. Follow Up on Next Steps: Instead of just leaving the ball in their court, actively suggest a follow-up meeting or call to discuss the next steps. This can be a more effective approach than just providing a calendar link, as it shows your eagerness to keep the conversation going and work collaboratively towards a solution.

Key Takeaways for Effective Follow-Ups • Personalization Is Key: Tailor your follow-up email to reflect the specific discussions and interests of the prospective client. • Balance Professionalism and Approachability: While maintaining a professional tone, ensure your email is approachable and encourages further dialogue. • Demonstrate Value Continuously: From sharing additional resources to offering to do an educational session, consistently showcase the value you bring. An effective follow-up email can be the difference between a missed opportunity and a fruitful professional relationship. By

incorporating these elements, lawyers can significantly enhance their chances of turning a prospect into a loyal client.

Reviving Silent Conversations: Keeping the Momentum Going

• Personalized Touch: Personalize your communication based on previous interactions. If they mentioned a specific business challenge or a personal interest in your earlier discussions, bringing this up can show your attentiveness and genuine interest.

Even with a well-crafted follow-up strategy, there are times when the conversation with a potential client may go silent. This is a common challenge in the legal profession, but it doesn’t necessarily signify a loss of interest. Here’s how to tactfully reengage and keep the conversation going:

• Set a Gentle Reminder for Future Opportunities: Sometimes timing isn’t right. Acknowledge this possibility and let them know you’re available to assist whenever they’re ready. A gentle reminder that you’re just an email or call away can leave the door open for future engagement.

• Follow-Up Check-In: If you haven’t received a response after your initial follow-up, send a polite check-in email. Frame it as a courteous reminder and express your continued interest in assisting them. A simple message asking if they had time to consider your proposal or if they need any further information can reopen the lines of communication.

• Networking Events and Casual Meetups: Invite them to networking events, seminars or casual meetups. This can provide a more relaxed setting to reconnect and can sometimes be more effective than formal business meetings.

• Share New Developments or Insights: Keep the prospective client informed about any new developments, insights or updates in your field that might be relevant to them. This approach shows that you’re thinking of them and their needs, even beyond the initial pitch. • Offer Additional Value: Propose an additional value that wasn’t part of the original conversation. For instance, you could offer a brief legal analysis of a recent regulation change relevant to their business or invite them to an exclusive webinar your firm is hosting.

Reviving a silent conversation requires a balance of persistence, tact and providing value. By staying in touch and continually offering relevant insights and assistance, you can keep the relationship warm and potentially reignite their interest in working with you. n Stefanie Marrone advises law firms of all sizes, professional service firms, B2B companies, recruiters, and individuals on the full range of marketing and business development consulting services designed to enhance revenue, retain current clients, and achieve greater brand recognition. She also serves as outsourced chief marketing officer/ marketing department for small and mid-size law firms.

Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024


Is Your Location Near Your Competition? by Kirk Stange


eciding where to place a law firm is an important decision. From the size of the space to the cost of the rent, a law firm must make many important decisions. Law firms also have to consider the aesthetics of the office. Depending on the types of clients a law firm is trying to acquire, a law firm has to consider the appearance of the space. For example, higher-end office space may be necessary if the law firm is trying to attract high-net-worth clients. However, it may be unnecessary if a law firm is trying to obtain business from clients who may not be high-net-worth individuals in a volume-based area of the law, like traffic, bankruptcy, etc.

Is Your Office Near Your Competition? One consideration many law firms fail to consider is where their competition is located. For example, many law firms may seek office space in the same building as their competition. If not in the same building, many lawyers might be just a block or a few short blocks from other law firms in the same area of law. Law firms can engage in this strategy because lawyers often congregate in the same part of town. Usually, it might be next to a courthouse or in the business district. Lawyers can often socialize with other lawyers off the clock at bar associations or social events. Being near other lawyers can benefit many law firms in these ways. But it might be wise for many lawyers to consider a different strategy. When looking at office space, it might be wise to pick a building where no other law firm practicing in the same area of law is in that building. To take that concept further, it might make sense not to be within blocks of other law firms in the same area of law. Thus, instead of staying in the crowd, many law firms might consider spreading out and creating some geographic space between where they are and their competition.

Why Would a Law Firm Want to Be Away from Their Competition? There are numerous reasons for situating your law firm away from the competition. However, one obvious reason is that a


Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024

potential client can shop between several attorneys within the same office building or a few short blocks, making it harder to get new business. In other words, a potential client could engage in multiple initial consultations on the same day if they see numerous lawyers within the same building. When lawyers are in the same building in the same area of the law, it becomes a lot like a shopping mall of lawyers. The potential clients can literally window-shop at various law firms–much like a person who window-shops at multiple clothing stores in the mall. As many mall store owners can attest, many walk in and out of their stores without buying anything. On the other hand, if a law firm is spread out from their competition and outside of the crowd, the window-shopping concern becomes less significant. Potential clients coming to the law firm must be very interested in that particular law firm. Otherwise, they would not have made the trip to the law office. A law firm also does not have to be as price-conscious when they are not in the same building as their competition. For example, a law firm in the same building as its competition probably has to ensure its rates are comparable to others in that building. Otherwise, it can make it hard to compete with them. Further, it is also harder to lose staff and personnel to their competition when the law firm is not in the same building as their competition. When a law firm is in the same building, it is almost effortless for a competitor to use recruiting techniques to siphon away your key employees. Yes, a law firm cannot be so far off the grid that potential clients do not want to go to their location. But at the same time, being in the same building as many competitors may be something a law firm should avoid when selecting office space. n In 2007, Kirk Stange founded Stange Law Firm, PC with his wife Paola and has worked diligently to grow the firm to what it is today. In addition to practicing law, Kirk spends time educating attorneys and other law professionals at CLE Seminars through the Missouri Bar, myLawCLE, the National Business Institute and other organizations. To learn more, please visit

Three Ways Lawyers Realize ROI when They Collaborate with Outside Writers by Wayne Pollock


hen lawyers collaborate with an outside writer to help them craft and publish thought-leadership marketing content, they are making a small investment for which they could realize significant ROIs. I frequently speak with lawyers and law firm marketing or business development professionals regarding their firms’ investment in their content marketing and thought-leadership marketing programs. These conversations frequently touch on those lawyers’ and law firms’ experience and interest in collaborating with an outside writer (also known as a “ghostwriter”) to help those lawyers craft and publish thought-leadership marketing content like blog posts, bylined articles, client alerts, and the like. Very often, when I have these conversations, the “B” word is mentioned. You know, “budget.” Inevitably, a lawyer or law firm marketing/business development professional will tell me that they’re not quite sure if they have the budget—whether at a firm level, a practice group level, or a personal level—to spend on collaborating with an outside writer. Instead, they will explain to me that they could just save that money by writing that content themselves or having their lawyers write it themselves. At this point, I often remind the lawyer or the marketing/ business development professional that allocating funds toward their content marketing and thought-leadership marketing efforts, including collaborating with an outside writer, like all other forms of marketing, is an investment. Those lawyers and their firms are spending money up front on a form of marketing in the hopes that by spending that money now they will bring in new client matters soon, and that new business will more than pay for the cost of the marketing efforts required to bring in those new matters. When it comes to collaborating with an outside writer, there are (at least) three ways lawyers can realize a return on their investment—one of which is guaranteed.

A lawyer who bills $400, $500, or $600 an hour but pays an outside writer $150, $200, or even $250 an hour, is going to realize a return on their investment—likely of at least 2x. By taking the reins on a piece of marketing content, an outside writer frees that lawyer up to service their clients and bill that time. Of course, if the lawyer was forced to write that piece of content themself without assistance from an outside writer, that lawyer would be unable to bill their time to a client. This first ROI is an instant, direct, and guaranteed ROI for lawyers and their law firms.

1. Write Less, Bill More

The third (and final, at least for the purposes of this article) way lawyers can realize an ROI when collaborating with an outside writer is what I refer to as the cumulative effect of content. When a lawyer collaborates with an outside writer over a long period of time, that lawyer will amass a body of work that is going to be more expansive than what that lawyer could have

The first way lawyers can realize an ROI when collaborating with an outside writer, which also happens to be a guaranteed ROI, is that lawyers free themselves up to be able to work on billable client matters. 12

Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024

2. Content Leads to a New Matter The second way lawyers can realize an ROI when collaborating with an outside writer is when a piece of marketing content crafted by that writer directly leads to a new client matter. Perhaps that piece of content is a bylined article in an industry trade publication. Maybe it is a blog post a lawyer or their firm shared on LinkedIn or Twitter. Maybe it is a client alert. Or maybe it is a free guide or checklist. Whatever it is, it so thoroughly—and credibly—addressed a legal issue that a past, current, or prospective client is currently facing or expects to face that they felt compelled to reach out to the lawyer and eventually engage them. Given the fact that it is unlikely, without the assistance of the outside writer, that that particular piece of marketing content would have been written and published when it was (after all, that’s why the writer was hired), there is a direct connection between what a lawyer or law firm paid the writer and the fees the lawyer and law firm could expect from this new client matter. In this instance, it is almost a certainty that the lawyer’s or law firm’s investment in a piece of marketing content crafted by an outside writer will be dwarfed by the fees from the client matter that piece generated.

3. The Cumulative Effect of Content

created on their own based on the competing demands on their time they face each day. That body of work as a whole is a signal to past, current, and future clients and referral sources that the lawyer has deep knowledge and mastery of the legal issues that arise within their practice area(s). After all, the lawyer wouldn’t have so much to say about those issues (in the form of thought-leadership marketing content) if they didn’t. That body of work creates a perception of thought leadership and mastery. That perception could very well compel clients and referral sources to contact the lawyer about assisting them with their legal issues. In these instances, that body of work led directly to new client matters. But that body of work, composed of blog posts, client alerts, bylined articles, and ebooks (along with perhaps videos, podcast episodes the lawyer has appeared on, and other indicia of their deep legal knowledge), also signals to other key audiences that the lawyer is someone they should be talking to about their area of expertise. Those key audiences might have platforms that lead to new client matters. Perhaps a representative from a trade organization comes across a lawyer’s body of work and thinks the lawyer would make an excellent speaker at an upcoming seminar. And that speaking engagement then leads to a new client matter. Perhaps a reporter from an industry trade publication or national business publication comes across the lawyer’s body of work and decides to interview that lawyer and include quotes from the lawyer in an article they are working on.

That published article then leads to a new client matter. In these examples, a particular piece of content did not directly lead to new client matters. But the cumulative effect of that content, the perceptions created by that content, opened up doors for a lawyer that eventually led to new client matters.

Investing in the Future of Your Legal Practice and Law Firm Content marketing and thought-leadership marketing, like all forms of marketing, are investments. They are not sunk costs. It is possible, if not probable, that you will realize a return on your investment in a content marketing or thought-leadership marketing program when you collaborate with an outside writer. I’ve identified three ways you might realize such a return. Remember, when you are contemplating investing in your content marketing and thought-leadership marketing programs, particularly when collaborating with an outside writer, you’re making an investment in the future of your legal practice and your law firm. n Wayne Pollock is the founder of the Law Firm Editorial Service. The Law Firm Editorial Service sets free the knowledge and wisdom trapped inside Big Law and boutique law firm partners by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content. Learn more at: www.

Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024


Offline and Online Advertising— They’re a Team! by Omnizant


t’s like chocolate and peanut butter—you don’t have to pick, and they’re better together! Your offline and online ads can work better if you combine them into a mutually supportive campaign. Invest in both to enjoy the biggest returns on your investment. You don’t have to redesign your website every time you throw up a new billboard. But you do want to consider how your online presence can enrich your out-of-home (OOH) campaigns, and vice versa. Here’s how to marry online and offline advertising into a delicious and rewarding marketing strategy for your firm that will yield much better results than a one-prong approach.

Attorney Advertising Is More Than Just Billboards and Cliche Ads... If you ask someone on the street what they think of when they think of attorney advertising, they may conjure up visions of towering billboards and aggressive television spots a la Better Call Saul. In part, that’s because of the proliferation of legal ads following 1977’s ruling on restrictions on attorney advertising. But on the other hand, billboards work! And although TV ads can be expensive, they are appropriate for some law firms. Traditional billboards and TV ads can be highly effective— but firms must steer away from cliches and take a nuanced approach that combines offline and online strategies. If someone’s first impression of your firm is offline, their second impression will be online. The opposite is true, too— if someone sees a digital ad for your firm online, they might recognize some of your OOH ads, too. Conversion tracking can help you keep it all straight so you’re making good investments. However, totally ignoring your digital presence in favor of OOH campaigns is a recipe for disaster. You can’t compete in spaces where you don’t appear, and you can bet that your competitors are working hard to earn business online.

... But You Also Need to Go Beyond Digital Campaigns It’s true that your digital reputation is a key differentiator when growing your firm. However, while online campaigns undeniably deliver


Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024

significant impact, law firms actually exist in the tangible, real world. As online advertising is surging in popularity (for good reason), offline advertising is still very much a mainstay of attorney marketing. Offline advertising remains a cornerstone of attorney marketing strategies, even in the digital age. Offline avenues like community events, sponsorships and even strategically placed billboards contribute a personal touch that resonates with potential clients. Face-to-face interactions at local gatherings or industry conferences build trust and credibility. A thoughtful mix of both online and offline advertising helps create a comprehensive narrative for your firm. It’s not just about being seen; it’s about being present in the spaces where clients seek assurance, fostering a holistic approach that transcends the digital confines of contemporary legal advertising.

Offline Advertising Should Be Supported by Your Online Presence As with most things, our solution is nuanced and holistic. Lawyers should unite offline and online advertising, deploying campaigns in harmony to maximize their marketing power. Sounds nifty, but let’s see a few examples of how this could work in real life. 1. Create a targeted online landing page for the offline campaign. Let’s say you have a billboard off I-96 talking about car accident recovery. Ensure that your online viewers will see something on your site that resembles your billboard. In this situation, you don’t want viewers of your billboard campaign to arrive at a home page that highlights your generalized personal injury expertise and work in criminal defense. Instead, work with your web designer to develop a specific landing page for this campaign. You could consider using the same CTA and carrying over design elements from the offline ad (like slogans, colors, etc.).

We also recommend a simple vanity URL that is easy to remember. This can just be set up as a redirect to the landing page on your firm’s main domain URL. 2. Try PPC ads to accompany the offline ad. Let’s go back to our billboard example. The most memorable aspect of this billboard may be a phone number or slogan. If your offline ad uses a slogan, consider a PPC campaign using those keywords. This strategy ensures that, if folks search for your slogan online after viewing your billboard, your site shows up front and center. If your offline ad uses a vanity phone number, make sure it’s properly configured to tie inbound calls back to this specific campaign. Ask your digital marketing agency to configure tracking in Google Analytics so you can easily pull reports on visitor behavior on this page. 3. Don’t skimp on your web presence when you invest big offline. It’s true that some people will just call your number immediately after seeing your billboard. But for many others, a billboard is just one piece of the attorney selection process. Your website still plays a critical role in convincing and converting potential clients, even after viewing your billboard.

If you neglect your web presence in favor of splashing out on a big offline ad, you may be wasting your money. 4. Use social media to amplify your offline tactics. Don’t forget social media! Social channels can be a great way to serve up more timely advertising messages that can extend the reach of your billboards. Think of it this way: Leveraging social media is like turning up the volume on your offline tactics. It’s not just about visibility; it’s about creating engagement. While billboards and events set the stage, social media platforms allow your audience to tune in, share and participate in a dynamic conversation. This can transform a static OOH strategy into a vibrant, interactive campaign, ensuring your legal presence resonates not just as a visual but as a compelling and participatory experience.

Review and Next Steps Here’s the winning formula for reaching, resonating with, and converting diverse clientele: Combine both offline and online strategies. Whenever you invest in one, invest in the other to complement it. n Since 2006, Omnizant’s team of digital marketing experts, designers, developers and writers has helped over 2,000 law firms develop powerful websites that drive business growth. Learn more at

Monty A. McIntyre, Esq. Mediator, Arbitrator & Referee ADR Services, Inc.

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by Dan Baldwin

Lauren Johnson is the most outstanding, exceptional, and accommodating attorney I have ever had the honor and privilege to encounter. Her empathy, compassion, insight, and professionalism are unrivaled. When I found myself in an extremely vulnerable and traumatic situation, Lauren completely put me at ease, alleviating my panic, anxiety and fear. She is gentle, yet fiercely precise and laser sharp. She took an extraordinary amount of time to ask such probing questions, leading to amazing revelations as to the nature of my situation. She is a "Tour de Force" and I know that I am in the most capable hands. My experience with her, and her phenomenal assistant has truly been life altering. This is, hands down, the best investment I have ever made. After all... the price of freedom is priceless! I am profoundly grateful, for her, and to her...” —J. M.

Satisfied clients are the best references for an attorney and Lauren Johnson-Norris, Founder and Head Attorney of Johnson Criminal Law Group, APLC and CPS Law Group, has earned her share of heart-felt praise. Her small firm, six employees, has earned a big reputation for protecting the rights of families at a time when parents’ rights are being challenged. The firm’s primary practice areas are Child Protective Services (CPS) defense, criminal defense, DUI, DUID, juvenile crimes, drug crime defense, Orange County domestic violence cases, and restraining orders. With nearly 20 years of experience defending clients in juvenile cases, Johnson-Norris has also established herself as the leading advocate in the field of CPS and juvenile dependency law in California. She and her team have proven so successful in this arena that the firm is launching a new division focusing completely on supporting parents in CPS cases. They will continue with their other practice areas, but the new group is a distinct focus to serve a growing need in the state that effects citizens now and for generations to come. Johnson-Norris is passionate about meeting the needs of her clients, who are often facing the fight of their lives from

a position that is disadvantaged and emotionally charged. “Few of us are equipped with the knowledge of our rights until they are called into question. Pairing inexperience and emotion can have catastrophic results with multi-generational consequences,” she says. Johnson-Norris believes that having a lawyer in a juvenile dependency case is essential. The right attorney provides legal expertise, represents and advocates for the child’s best interests, offers objective perspectives, facilitates negotiation and mediation, represents clients in court, and manages the case through to conclusion. “Our presence ensures that the parent and their family have a knowledgeable and dedicated advocate who can navigate the legal complexities and fight for their rights and well-being.” Her published appellate wins include: In re Drake M (the court held that parents could lawfully use medical marijuana without their use being deemed child neglect); In re Pricilla D. (the court held that a parent can terminate a legal guardianship under the Welfare and Institutions Code); and In re D.P. (the court reversed an order terminating parental rights at Welfare and Institutions Code hearing.)




© ChristopherToddStudios


Lauren Johnson-Norris, Founder and Head Attorney

© ChristopherToddStudios

Lauren Johnson-Norris, Founder and Head Attorney

AN EARLY CALL TO ACTION Her determination to protect the rights of the families, and the under-served in the community stems from early experiences in which family members faced serious legal problems. She watched as those cases were mishandled by the attorneys representing her family, which then led to serious disruptions in family life. From the age of six, she knew what a lawyer was, how a lawyer was supposed to act, and how some lawyers carelessly did a disservice to their clients. “I never had one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments where I decided to become an attorney. The decision came from an accumulation of experiences and a desire to see better outcomes. I always had a passion for justice and serving the most vulnerable individual people and families. It’s a part of my nature,” Johnson-Norris says. A short-list of successful efforts for her CPS clients illustrates not only her level of expertise, but also that of her


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commitment to her clients, their children, and the stability of the family. Johnson-Norris has: • Successfully reunited a family by advocating for the return of children to their parents’ custody after thorough investigation and evidence presentation; • Obtained a dismissal of a CPS case based on lack of evidence and procedural errors, ensuring the preservation of the family’s rights and reputation; • Secured a favorable outcome for a client by negotiating a voluntary agreement with CPS, allowing the children to remain at home under supervision while the parents received necessary support and services; • Achieved a reunification order on the first court appearance, enabling the children to return home promptly and minimizing the disruption to their lives and family dynamics;

• Successfully defended a client against false allegations of abuse or neglect, leading to a complete closure of the CPS investigation and the preservation of the family unit; • Assisted a client in obtaining custody of their child after intervention from CPS, ensuring the child’s safety and well-being while preserving the parent-child bond; • Advocated for the termination of a false and malicious CPS report, protecting the client’s reputation and preventing further unwarranted investigations; • Secured a favorable resolution by negotiating a case plan that allowed the parents to address concerns raised by CPS while keeping the family intact; • Successfully appealed a decision by CPS, resulting in the overturning of a removal order and the immediate return of the children to their parents’ care; • Obtained a favorable outcome for a client by challenging the validity of the initial CPS investigation, leading to the closure of the case without any adverse consequences for the family; • Represented a client in a complex CPS hearing, resulting in a favorable ruling that allowed the children to remain with their parents while receiving necessary support services; and • Successfully defended a client against allegations of substance abuse, mental health issues, and domestic violence, leading to the dismissal of the CPS case and the preservation of the family’s rights and integrity.

A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM FROM THE SYSTEM As an undergraduate, Johnson-Norris tutored young people at the California Youth Authority, where she was shocked to see children who were essentially warehoused. Seeing very young children in that situation was especially moving. “I really felt it just wasn't right for so many kids to be housed that way just because they were so little. When I went to law school, I thought I would represent children and do that kind of work,” she says. Two more experiences helped to further motivate her move to criminal defense and CPS defense law. In law school, she was an intern at the Criminal Defense Division of Legal Aid where she worked with adults. She soon realized that many of the adults were just those same “warehoused” children grown up. A second awakening came when she was assigned to work on dependency cases as a public defender. Everything came full circle for her because she saw a whole person, their whole

family, and their circumstances come together in a CPS/ juvenile dependency case. She found herself involved with not just one person accused of a crime but that person’s family. Johnson-Norris recognized not only the value she could provide these individuals, young or old, to achieve the best outcomes regardless of their circumstances, but could uniquely identify with their experiences and their potential. Her practice in those courts exposed her to the different sides of a client’s life, their families, their childhoods, and all the things that led them to where they ended up needing help in the courts. “This was the perfect fit for me. I could really help, really get something done, in that world. And I was good at it. It was really natural for me. I understood the law intuitively in a way that a lot of lawyers don't. They fail to grapple with the balance of all the different interests at one time. I really understand the full spectrum of what these clients face, and what the consequences can be,” she says. “Ms. Johnson-Norris was ABSOLUTELY amazing. She took the time to listen to me, was very understanding with my situation, guided me through the whole process the entire way. She went to court for me so I didn't have to miss work as well, which was a huge help especially as a single mother. I was initially overwhelmed with fear and anxiety, not knowing anything about how the legal system works and what I was facing. Ms. Johnson-Norris took care of everything for me and was able to help me fight my case. I now am able to live each day without fear of losing everything, going to jail and being away from my children. I will recommend Ms. Johnson-Norris to anyone seeking an amazing attorney who truly cares about their clients. THANK YOU Ms. Johnson-Norris!”

A STEP AND THEN A LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN Johnson-Norris served in the Public Defender’s Office until 2009 when she decided to open her own firm. She began small—in her kitchen on a shoestring with no savings, but with an overwhelming drive to succeed and desire to serve. “If you don’t have a ‘safety net,’ when there’s nothing to fall back on, you really need a strong work ethic. You can’t just want to be an attorney; you have to love being an attorney,” she says. Today, the firm occupies multiple suites staffed by attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, and law clerks from undergraduates to law students. She staffs the firm by seeking out people interested specifically in her practice areas and who display the attitudes of a caring professional. She is available any time members of the firm need her, but she doesn’t micromanage. She says, “I'm as available as they want me to be, but I also want them to work very independently. Because otherwise, it doesn't work. It can’t.”

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Contact Lauren Johnson-Norris CPS Law Group 19200 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 600 Irvine, California 92612 Phone: (949) 622-5522 Fax: (949) 622-5511


Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024

© ChristopherToddStudios


Johnson-Norris thrives on being able to help strengthen a family and knowing that the work she does has a positive impact not just on the parents and family, but on generations to come. She believes her work helps struggling families break the cycles of violence or substance abuse, and the emotional challenges that hammer so many families. “It’s like a pebble reverberating in a pond. We can affect the future by helping people learn new parenting skills and navigate the challenges they face today. Those victories today ripple out and into a better future.” Johnson-Norris is known for her professionalism, knowledge, advocacy, and results amongst judges and amongst adversaries. She believes at the core of her success, and that of her firm, is the unwillingness to take a “cookie cutter” approach to her cases. “We don't just go through the motions; we really find out what is going on with this family. How can we help this family. We brainstorm all creative solutions. I'm very involved, hands on with the client, because I want the client to come out of the situation better than they came in.” Outside of the office, Johnson-Norris sets appropriate boundaries to maintain a balance between work and personal time to “recharge my batteries,” and reconnect with her family on weekends and vacations. She enjoys regular date nights with her husband. She has an intense and longtime love of animals of all kinds, which partially explains why she has been a vegetarian since she was 12 years old. She recognizes the lifelong impact of family and strives to ensure children have the best possible chance for building a successful life of their own. Johnson-Norris says, “I take the work personally because I want the work I do to be a reflection on the world. I am committed to helping these families. That's my mission. And it's my passion. The feedback we get as a result shows that we're doing that.” n

» EDUCATION • J.D., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2003 • Awarded Archie A. Gorfinkle Award for Most Outstanding Graduate Entering the Field of Criminal Defense • B.A. Sociology, Pitzer College • Gerry Spence’s Western Trial Advocacy Institute, 2007

» BAR ADMISSIONS • California • District of Columbia

» PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT • Psychology courses and Parent Education Certificate • Fair Housing Council Alternative Dispute Resolution Certificate

» AWARDS • Paul Bell Memorial Fellowship • Outstanding Supporter of Prevention • Assembly District 74 Woman of Distinction

» COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP • Commissioner, Orange County Human Relations Commission (2023-Present) • Volunteer Arbitrator, Orange County Bar Association Mandatory Fee Arbitration Program (2016-Present) • Irvine Finance Commissioner and Irvine Investment Advisory Board (2021-2022) • Irvine Community Services Commissioner and Irvine Children Youth and Family Advisory Committee (2012-2020) • Committee Member, Orange County Bar Association Mentoring Committee (2015-2016) • President, South Orange County Bar Association and subordinate Board Positions (2012-2016) • Deputy Public Defender III, Orange County (2004-2009) • Board of Directors, Orange County Women Lawyers Association • Handled more than 600 appeals

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7 Ways Legal Bill Review Software Can Trim Your Expenses by Lauren Burnside

Maximizing Efficiency and Minimizing Costs: Unleash the Power of Legal Bill Review Software In 2021, legal teams reported spending only a fraction of the day (just 2.5 hours) on billable work. Flash forward to today, and teams are still inundated with time-consuming administrative tasks like tracking hours, gathering data, reviewing line items, and finding invoice details that may be lost in a sea of back-and-forth emails. On top of that, manual invoice review processes can be timeconsuming and prone to errors, leading to unnecessary costs. Luckily, with the advent of legal bill review software, businesses can streamline their processes, enhance accuracy, and ultimately reduce expenses. Here are seven ways legal bill review software can trim your expenses:

1. Automated Invoice Processing Reviewing invoices line-by-line and highlighting any guideline violations or non-compliant activity—aka managed bill review (MBR)—can be time-consuming, especially when it falls on in-house staff. Few among us find it rewarding to painstakingly validate each line item in a bill—much less hundreds or thousands of bills. And in a climate where worker burnout is on the rise (a 2022-2023 survey shows that 59% of all workers are experiencing at least moderate burnout), mitigating painful, manual processes has become a priority for strategic organizations. Legal bill review software automates the invoice processing workflow, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors. Automation also ensures that invoices are processed efficiently, saving valuable time and reducing administrative costs for both hard and soft savings.

2. Invoice Compliance Checks Legal bill review software comes equipped with advanced algorithms that can perform real-time compliance checks. This helps ensure that invoices adhere to predefined billing guidelines and comply with legal regulations. By flagging non-compliant entries, the software prevents overbilling and reduces the likelihood of disputes. Legal bill review software significantly enhances the efficiency of invoice compliance checks, leading to a substantial return on investment (ROI) for legal departments. The advanced algorithms embedded in the software not only flag non-compliant entries but also streamline the entire review process. This automation reduces the time and resources traditionally spent on manual invoice examinations, allowing legal professionals to focus on more 22

Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024

strategic and value-added activities. The integration of legal bill review software not only ensures compliance with billing guidelines and legal regulations but also delivers tangible benefits through enhanced efficiency, reduced disputes, and strategic insights that contribute to a positive return on investment for legal departments.

3. Enhanced Bill Review Accuracy Manual bill reviews are prone to oversights and human errors. Legal bill review software employs artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to analyze and review bills with a high level of accuracy. This reduces the chances of approving inaccurate charges, leading to significant cost savings. Legal bill review software offers a systematic and standardized approach to the review process, ensuring consistency and adherence to billing guidelines. These tools are designed to automatically crossreference each line item against established legal billing guidelines, flagging any discrepancies or potential billing irregularities. The implementation of AI-driven features, such as natural language processing and pattern recognition, enables the software to understand complex legal language and identify nuances that might be overlooked during a manual review. By leveraging these advanced technologies, legal bill review software not only minimizes the risk of errors but also enhances the overall efficiency of the review process. The automation of routine tasks allows legal professionals to focus on more complex aspects of their work, such as case strategy and client communication. This not only improves the quality of legal services but also contributes to a more streamlined and cost-effective workflow.

4. Streamlined Communication with Law Firms Effective communication with law firms is essential for managing legal expenses. Legal bill review software provides a centralized platform for communication, allowing for seamless collaboration and enabling legal departments to provide timely feedback to law firms. Real-time collaboration features enable quick resolution of billing disputes and clarification of any discrepancies, reducing the likelihood of prolonged disputes that could potentially strain the client-law firm relationship. This leads to a more harmonious working relationship and saves valuable time for both legal departments and law firms. Improved communication can also lead to better negotiated rates and discounts, contributing to overall cost reduction.

5. Real-Time Analytics and Reporting Legal bill review software provides real-time analytics and reporting capabilities, offering insights into spending patterns, trends, and areas of potential cost savings. This data empowers legal departments to negotiate more favorable terms with their legal vendors, optimize budget allocation, and make informed decisions based on historical billing information. The software’s ability to facilitate strategic decision-making contributes to longterm cost savings and operational efficiency, ultimately boosting the overall ROI for the organization. By having a comprehensive understanding of legal expenses, organizations can make informed decisions to optimize their budget and reduce unnecessary costs.

6. Standardized Billing Practices Legal bill review software enables organizations to establish and enforce standardized billing practices. This consistency ensures that all legal matters are billed in a uniform manner, making it easier to identify anomalies and negotiate better rates. Legal bill review software also ensures that discrepancies are identified promptly, enabling timely corrections before invoices are processed for payment. This proactive approach not only minimizes the risk of financial losses due to overbilling but also fosters stronger relationships with external legal service providers by maintaining transparency and trust in billing practices.

7. Efficient Matter Management Some of the best legal bill review software includes matter management features that allow organizations to track the progress of legal cases, allocate resources effectively, and identify opportunities

for cost savings. By optimizing matter management, businesses can reduce the overall expenditure on legal services. Legal bill review software contributes significantly to streamlining the communication and collaboration processes within law firms. These platforms have the ability to integrate communication tools and document sharing functionalities, enabling legal teams to work collaboratively on cases in real-time with other departments. Efficient matter management through the software also facilitates better decision-making by providing comprehensive insights into case histories, key milestones, and potential challenges. This enhanced visibility allows legal professionals to make informed choices regarding case strategy and resource allocation.

Optimizing Costs with Legal Bill Review Software Incorporating legal bill review software into your organization’s workflow is a strategic investment that can lead to substantial cost savings and improved resource allocation. From automated invoice processing to real-time analytics, these tools offer a comprehensive solution for managing and optimizing legal expenses It’s not just a cost-cutting measure; it’s a proactive approach to enhancing financial control and maximizing the value of legal services. n Lauren Burnside is a Content Specialist at Mitratech, a proven global technology partner for corporate legal departments, risk & compliance teams, and HR professionals seeking to raise productivity, control expense, and mitigate risk by deepening organizational alignment, increasing visibility, and spurring collaboration across the enterprise. Learn more at:

Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024


Four Reasons a Law Firm Should Have a CRM Integration by Chris Fritsch


ven though the law firm business model is built around forging strong relationships and lasting connections, there is probably no other industry with more disconnected data systems than legal. Too often we hear complaints from legal marketers and business developers struggling with challenges caused by juggling so many disconnected data silos, including CRM and ERM, eMarketing systems, experience databases, proposal generators, and more. And don’t even get me started on the spreadsheets.

2. Time and Billing Data

CRM Integration: When, Where and Why

External data sets, like company news, information, and industry codes, can be connected to the firm’s CRM and to companies and contacts within the database. This type of connection can be extremely beneficial as it can help generate insightful reports on data coming into the CRM, like newly added companies, alumni changes or business development activities. Still, it often requires a meticulous initial matching and tagging process and an ongoing subscription cost to prevent the data from becoming outdated.

When systems are not connected, it causes frustrating challenges such as vast sets of duplicate contacts and repetitious data entry. Attorneys and staff are often stuck wasting time on tedious manual tasks such as repeatedly entering the same data into multiple disconnected systems— time that should otherwise be spent serving client needs. These data silos keep attorneys from effectively analyzing the data to make informed, timely decisions. As firms transition to digital-first strategies, they are developing new ways to bridge the gaps between these disconnected silos through system integrations, allowing for a more enhanced flow of information. While there are many ways to integrate your data systems with your CRM, here are a few of the most beneficial integrations when it comes to legal marketing technology:

1. eMarketing Data The value of a CRM system can be exponentially increased with the integration of an eMarketing system. When integrated properly, these tools can connect critical data to your contacts and give you better insight into how they interact with your email or marketing communications. Many times, these integrations have been pre-built by system providers, offering huge cost savings for firms that implement them. Additionally, the data from an eMarketing system can help drive system adoption and provide added value, which most firms struggle to achieve.


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Many firms have also tied their time and billing systems to their CRM. While this type of integration comes with a higher price tag, it can sync invaluable data like client information, rank and numbers for firms with common time and billing and CRM systems. Additionally, these systems can work in concert with one another to seamlessly pull a list for targeting and segmenting based on numerous criteria.

3. External Data Sets

4. Human Resources Data Integrating the firm’s HR system can also provide additional value. This connection can automate the creation of new user accounts in the CRM, simplifying the onboarding process. The HR data can also be used to feed firm directories and provide computer or mobile access to the information of the firm’s key personnel. Attorneys can also be related to clients, matters, experience or opportunity records. Focusing on an integration strategy can provide firms with a solid foundation for CRM success. However, this is only the first step. The next steps involve addressing the people and process issues, including the daunting change management challenges that are inherent in CRM. n As a CRM Success and Business Development Technology Consultant, Chris Fritsch works together with leading professional services firms across the country to help them select and implement the right Client Relationship Management and eMarketing solutions to support their marketing and business development efforts and maximize value and return on investment. Learn more at

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5 Key Considerations Regarding the Use of 3D Animation for Litigation by Brian Schutzman In recent years, 3D animation has emerged as a powerful tool for teaching and transforming complex information into a digestible and compelling visual. Animation brings a case to life and can have a greater impact on juries, judges, and tribunals than still images by comparison. Based on years of experience in the courtroom, we have developed five tips and considerations to optimize the use of this invaluable litigation tool.

an effective, observable message. Complex pieces often take weeks to complete, and waiting until the eve of trial can limit (or eliminate) the designer’s ability to create a compelling animation. You could also incur rush fees and increase the cost of your overall case strategy.

1. Start Your Animation Early Waiting until the last minute to begin animation development in order to reduce trial costs is a common yet misguided approach. This strategy can actually decrease the impact an animation would have on overall case value. Here are three reasons to start your animation early: CASE THEORY: Animations are often perceived as a component of trial alone. While animations may play a significant part in the trial strategy, they have a more critical role earlier in the case lifecycle—including the development of case theory. Although animation is often sought to reinforce case theory, it can also refute it. The objective environment afforded by 3D animation can provide a unique view of key issues not originally seen from a review of documents, reports, or films. These details, both positive and negative, allow a case team to choose the most favorable—and therefore most valuable—case theory. SETTLEMENT OPPORTUNITY: Beginning the animation process early can also benefit settlement talks. It is no secret that both plaintiff and defense counsel would rather avoid the cost and uncertainty of trial. Revealing an animation can be a powerful method to increase the value of a case in the settlement phase. Plaintiff settlement packages with animation may increase the frequency of settlements as well as the value, by demonstrating a commitment to the case. Any costs incurred in creating an animation during this phase can usually be added to the settlement agreement. For example, we created an animation for a plaintiff attorney in a product liability case involving a small construction vehicle. It demonstrated two things during settlement talks: the mechanism of injury and an alternative design that would prevent injuries. This animation was presented to opposing counsel and insurance representatives, leading to a healthy settlement and significant cost savings related to expert reports, depositions, travel, and trial overhead. CREATIVE PROCESS: One final reason to start early is that effective animations simply take time to develop. Animators are talented artists who are tasked with distilling a lot of information into

Still frames from an animation used in a product liability case.

2. Stay Involved in Animation Development Building a case requires the input and attention of key stakeholders. It is important to know that building an animation requires the same level of attention from the same group of people. Stakeholders should stay involved for the entire development process, so it proceeds accurately and optimally. Sometimes, lead attorneys may allow experts to drive the process. While this is not necessarily a bad practice, experts may lose focus of the audience (a jury, judge, or insurance adjuster), leading to the creation of overly complex animations that are difficult to comprehend. Therefore, although experts should be involved*, it is the key stakeholders’ responsibility to ensure the final product is best suited to the intended viewers. Overseeing this process can be as simple as joining conference calls and reviewing animation drafts. For example, in a case involving a highly complex chemical process, the team included a well-respected chemical engineer tasked with directing the animation’s creation. It quickly became

*While it is not best practice to give your expert complete reign over animation development, their involvement is crucial to success. Animations can only be admitted into evidence if validated by an expert or witness. A graphic designer or animator can only testify to the creation of the animation, not to the content. 26

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obvious the expert wanted the animation to contain a level of detail too confusing for the audience to easily digest. Fortunately, the lead attorney was involved from the start and requested to make the animation simpler. Our designer worked with the entire case team to develop a solution that demonstrated the chemical process in a clearer fashion, using cartoon lines and shading as shown below.

RENDERING: After all the hands-on work is done, the animator renders the animation. This is a process in which the computer(s) will draw each frame of the animation. While not a labor-intensive process, this stage requires significant computing power. Most animations run at 30 frames per second, meaning a three-minute animation contains 5,400 frames—each drawn by the computer. In the early stages of computer animation, companies would charge for rendering. Realizing that rendering times can vary depending on the power of the computer, most reputable companies today no longer charge for it.

Still frames from an animation used to simplify a complex chemical process.

3. Understand the 3D Animation Process Rome was not built in a day, and the same adage applies to a good animation. We have already addressed the importance of starting early and how it affects overall quality. Understanding the full animation process helps attorneys appreciate and plan the project’s timeline. There are generally five steps involved with animation production: INFORMATION GATHERING: This is obviously a crucial step and the foundation of the animation project. The key stakeholders present the initial case theory to the design team and then collectively develop ideas. The animator will review all information and determine the best way to convey the case theory. DESIGN: This is where the ideas come together. The animator consolidates all details from the information-gathering phase into a visual presentation for the case team (often a storyboard). It is important for the key stakeholders to carefully review these design concepts and make changes as necessary. Revisions at this stage are virtually cost-free. MODELING: In this stage, the animator begins work on what will become the final deliverable. The most tedious and timeconsuming phase is when the animator creates the product or scene to be used in the animation. Models can be created by eye or by using technical drawings and are then given color, texture, sheen, etc. Depending on the complexity of the scene, the modeling stage could take weeks to complete. ANIMATION: This is the stage in which the previously created models begin to “come to life” through movement. Most experienced animators will agree this is the most important stage. The interaction between the models is what will ultimately create a compelling demonstrative.

Still frames of a model in its initial stage or wireframe (top), flat shaded (middle) and fully rendered (bottom). Once the animation process is complete, drafts are created and sent to the case team. It is very important at this point for stakeholders to review and request revisions promptly. Small revisions may be turned around within days, while major changes could require the process to restart and take weeks to complete.

4. Get the Animation Admitted If you have gone through the settlement process without a resolution and are headed to trial, it is important to understand that animations must be validated by expert or witness testimony to be admitted into evidence. This validation process begins during animation development. With experts or witnesses involved in the info-gathering stage and draft review, the animator can move forward with confidence. Failing to gain input from experts or witnesses during the early stages of development could cause significant and costly revisions on the eve of trial. The worst-case scenario would be having the animation thrown out due to lack of authentication. Animations can fall under two categories: demonstrative and simulation. Most trial animations fall under the former category, as they are used to explain something and educate the audience. Attorney Journals Orange County | Volume 214, 2024


Demonstrative animations have an easier path to admissibility and cost much less to create. Animations created as simulations often contain complex data or real-world interactions between objects. Due to their reliance on objective data, simulation animations are more objectionable and viewed with more scrutiny. Courts often require both the expert and the animator to testify on the process and data used, also allowing an opportunity for cross-examination.

These two types of animation can vary greatly in terms of time and cost. A photo-realistic animation containing real-life textures, shadows, highlights, etc. requires more expertise and time to create than a flat-shaded animation, yet both can accomplish their respective goals. It is important to talk with the designer about the goal of the animation at the start of development.

Still frame of an animation used for demonstrative evidence.

5. Control the Cost of 3D Animation This is a critical question for most attorneys, and it is also the hardest to answer. We know from extensive experience that creating an animation has many moving parts. The time spent on each stage of development can vary greatly from project to project, just as creating a frame for a CGI-animated feature film takes more human and computing hours than a frame of a contemporary animated sitcom. The following guidelines will help keep the cost of your animation in check, regardless of the subject. KNOW THE CASE: It sounds simple and obvious, but fully understanding the case as it relates to your strategy is the foundation of the animation. Relaying incorrect information to the designer at this stage can cause costly revisions later in the production process. PROVIDE SUFFICIENT DETAILS: Experienced animators would rather have too much information about your case than not enough. Remember, animators have different roles on the team. They create a visualization of the subject matter and, therefore, need to view all the information to ensure accuracy. Attorneys are often reluctant to send a large collection of photos of a scene or product, thinking they will not be of any value to the animator. This could not be more false. To save time and expense in the long run, it is beneficial for animators to see all existing views and details related to what they have been tasked with communicating visually. CHOOSE FORM OR FUNCTION: The goal of any litigation animation is to inform and convince your audience. The method used to accomplish this can vary. A plaintiff’s attorney representing a client injured in a car accident, intending to engage the jury with a flood of details from the incident, may create a photo-realistic reenactment of the crash scene. On the other hand, a patent defense attorney looking to clearly break down intricate protocols may wish to create a simple, flat-shaded animation. 28

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Still frame of a fully shaded animation (top) and a flat-shaded animation (bottom). AVOID THE LAST MINUTE: Waiting until two weeks before trial to start an animation can be a costly mistake. Most graphics firms are constantly juggling production schedules to meet client needs. Jumping in and expecting immediate work comes at a high price. Freelancers may be needed along with overtime and weekend work. All of these added costs can double or triple the price of an animation.

In Summary Initiating a 3D animation development process early in your strategy is pivotal in positioning your case for success. It allows animation to contribute to the formation of a robust case theory, enhances settlement opportunities, and provides ample time for the creative process to unfold. Furthermore, actively participating, understanding the process, and admitting the animation with expert input will make the journey more cost-effective. By adhering to these principles, you will not only control the cost of your 3D animation but also increase its value as a powerful tool, ultimately strengthening and optimizing the final decision in court. n As Senior 3D Animation Consultant at IMS Consulting & Expert Services, Brian Schutzman works closely with our law firm and corporate clients to develop the most compelling and informative case possible using an array of digital media. Brian uses innovative approaches to help attorneys visually convey their client’s story to the decision makers. Learn more at:




BRIAN CHASE OCBA Board of Directors Masters Division - 2023 Chair - OCBA Tort & Trial Section - 2023 Daily Journal Top Plaintiff Lawyer - 2020–21, 2023 President CAOC - 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year OCTLA - 2014 Trial Lawyer of the Year CAOC - 2012 Trial Lawyer of the Year Nominee CAALA - 2012 President OCTLA - 2007

Auto Defect, Class Action, Personal Injury, Employment & Gov’t Entity

Product Liability Trial Lawyer of the Year OCTLA - 2004

9 - FIGURES Consumer Class Action

MULTIPLE 8 - FIGURES Seatback Failure - Auto Defect

MULTIPLE 8 - FIGURES Dangerous Condition - Govt. Entity

MULTIPLE 8 - FIGURES Burn Injury - Product Defect

MULTIPLE 8 - FIGURES Negligence - Rehab Facility

MULTIPLE 8 - FIGURES Motorcycle Accident

8 - FIGURES 15-Passenger Van - Auto Defect

8 - FIGURES Rollover - Auto Defect

8 - FIGURES Caustic Ingestion - Premises Liability

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Wage & Hour Class Action

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Wage & Hour - PAGA Class Action

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Dangerous Condition - Govt. Entity

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Door Latch Failure - Auto Defect

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Roof Crush - Auto Defect

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Airbag - Auto Defect

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Tread Separation - Auto Defect

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Seat Belt Failure - Auto Defect

MULTIPLE 7 - FIGURES Post-Collision Fire - Auto Defect

Nationwide Law Firm 1301 Dove Street, Suite 120, Newport Beach, CA 92660 | | Tel: 800-561-4887 | Serving clients since 1978

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