DOAR Director John Hicks helps clients worldwide make their case presentations stronger

DOAR Director John Hicks is no stranger to working on complex cases across industries and practice areas. As one of the nation’s leading consultants advising top attorneys on international arbitrations and trials, Hicks has expertise working under pressure and in unique environments.

Over his 15-year career, Hicks has worked on several hundred cases, including multi-billion-dollar civil cases, complex commercial disputes, employment matters, and white-collar criminal defense cases. He plays an integral role on trial teams as a dual jury and graphics consultant on high-profile, high-stakes litigation.

Working at DOAR, Hicks finds great satisfaction in being able to work on a variety of matters.

He states, “I’m always learning. Aside from the breadth of cases we work on, my ability to work as a jury consultant informs the way I approach developing graphics that will resonate with jurors for any given case.”

With a Master of Science in social psychology and research, Hicks is skilled in assessing individual behavior in group dynamics. When asked about testing graphics at research events and how to incorporate the insights gathered to make a presentation stronger, he offered the following tips:

  1. Keep an open mind and actively listen to the jurors. Invariably, the jurors will identify an element that needs to be clarified that will make your graphic stronger when used during the actual trial or arbitration.
  2. Always introduce complex information in bite-sized pieces. During the research event, pay attention to how the jurors use that information. This is generally a good barometer for making a graphic more effective.
  3. Have an attorney use a developed graphic as they lay out their case narrative with mock jurors. This will let you see if the graphic helps the attorney better connect with the jurors.

For international arbitrations, Hicks is highly adept at coordinating and collaborating with attorneys around the world to develop an effective communications strategy.

“I have worked on matters where members of the trial team are in multiple time zones, and the attorneys are from several different countries,” Hicks says. “In these situations, communication is key. I always send early iterations of concepts and detailed emails with screenshots to clients and request ‘face-to-face’ zoom calls to discuss critical issues.”

One of the most challenging international arbitration cases that Hicks has worked on was Metro de Lima Consortium v. Peru. Representing the Republic of Peru, our client Foley Hoag LLP secured a victory in the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) concerning the design, construction, and operation of the underground metro line “Línea 2” in Lima. For this complex construction arbitration, Hicks co-created a 3D model with a DOAR graphics artist depicting the planned train station in Lima and a model of the revised station in question. Under tight time constraints, Hicks had to develop graphics based on difficult-to-read design plans while consulting with another DOAR colleague to translate the text from Spanish to English.

“I think one of the things that truly separates DOAR from other consulting firms is our ability to work as a team,” said Hicks. “Everyone is always willing to lend a hand or jump on Zoom to help. Also, unlike many other firms, everyone is empowered to speak up and present an alternative idea or approach, enabling us to work in a truly collaborative environment to deliver the best work to our clients.”

Hicks notes that over the last two years, DOAR has been sought out to work on several cases requesting graphics support to develop 3D models to compare and contrast what was planned versus what was actually built. The DOAR team is also skilled at creating highly detailed animations that explain and depict land terrain and topography.

For example, in Gosling v. Mauritius, a world heritage development dispute, DOAR again supported Foley Hoag LLP and their client, the Government of Mauritius, in the development of graphics that depicted La Morne Mountain, an area with cultural significance as the reputed site of a slave rebellion during the 19th century. Known as the “Maroon Republic”, at stake was the preservation of lands that symbolized Maroon slaves’ fight for freedom against land developers who wanted to build on the site.

“As Respondents, it was very important to us to replicate La Morne Mountain as closely as possible to show the plight of the escaped slaves and the lengths they went to for freedom,” said Hicks. “Our team worked tirelessly researching maps and other historical materials to bring the landscape to life in the hearing accurately.”

In a majority opinion, the tribunal at ICSID sided with the Government of Mauritius to preserve the area as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In summary, John Hicks represents the passion, dedication, and teamwork associated with DOAR consultants. The firm thrives on working with the best attorneys on the most complex, high-stakes litigation.

Hicks adds, “We are fortunate to work with some amazing trial teams from around the world. As a South African ex-pat, I feel a kinship with many of the lawyers we work with who are ex-pats themselves. Our shared experience has allowed me to form several close friendships fostered by DOAR’s ability to deliver the best work. As a result, they trust us and rely on us to help them best advance their client’s cases.”

Contact us to learn more about how DOAR can help you with your next matter.


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