DOAR’s Justin Kelly Helps Attorneys Craft and Deliver Impactful Trial Presentations

DOAR’s Justin Kelly is a leading trial presentation consultant working with prominent attorneys across the country on high-stakes litigation. On every engagement, he brings his extensive experience in video production and storytelling, and his expertise in running live presentations for clients at trial.

Kelly has worked on more than 300 cases for nearly two decades, ranging from white-collar criminal defense trials to labor and employment disputes to patent infringement suits. Working with DOAR clients, he finds the most satisfaction in driving success in challenging lawsuits. He offers the following perspectives on why he believes trial consulting services are critical for complex cases:

  1. Jury research can help you really speak to your audience. Running jury research provides crucial information about jurors in a trial’s venue, which is ever more important when a case is multifaceted. The insights collected can tell you how specific types of jurors tend to lean regarding themes and positions in a case. By conducting jury research, a trial team essentially has the upper hand in jury selection and can frame their case based on the statistics that jury consultants have gathered and analyzed, so the attorneys know what will resonate best with jurors.
  2. It’s always better to show than tell. In court, the spoken word can be difficult to digest in the absence of displayed evidence and demonstrative graphics, especially in cases involving complex processes or narratives that occur over a long period of time. Seeing a piece of evidence or informative graphic in context with an attorney’s questions and statements will make it exceedingly clearer. And having persuasive graphics and an experienced trial presentation professional at the helm, who is in lockstep with the presenting attorney, can mean the difference between making your message powerful and clear or having it fall flat.   
  3. Come to the table buttoned up; it will show. Jurors will notice if there is any disparity between the trial teams beyond the evidence that is presented at trial. If one team uses ineffective demonstratives and presents their evidence in an unclear, slow, and sloppy manner, it damages their credibility. And credibility is everything in a trial. Having a weather-tested consulting team by your side is critical to showing professionalism and putting your best foot forward.

While Kelly has supported trial teams in various roles, he most enjoys presenting evidence at trial.

“It’s often stressful and complicated, but I welcome the challenge,” Kelly said about supporting trials. “It allows me to employ problem-solving skills and creativity in a high-pressure environment. It is definitely not for the thin-skinned or the faint of heart, but to me, it is tremendously exciting and rewarding.”

He adds, “When a trial team repeatedly rehearses their strategy and presentation, it becomes tighter and more succinct. The most satisfying part of being a trial presentation consultant is delivering a presentation in a compelling and effective manner. And, of course, it always feels great to be a part of the winning team.”

While Kelly has worked on hundreds of cases as a presentation consultant, he notes that the most challenging case he worked on involved playing the part of counsel during a research event.

“I will often assume the role of the attorney in jury focus groups and mock trials for research events. And I give attorneys a lot of credit because it is not easy to constantly be in the spotlight,” Kelly said. “On behalf of a high-profile client in a white-collar criminal trial, I spoke to a group of about 30 people for over four hours, testing themes and strategies. I needed to keep my energy up and maintain the jurors’ attention for what seemed like an eternity. But the insight gained from that exercise and others truly paid off. At trial, our team won the case with a full acquittal for the defendant.”

Part of DOAR’s success can be attributed to the caliber of clients that work with us. The most respected and renowned attorneys call on DOAR to advise them on high-stakes, high-profile matters. They recognize the quality and expertise of DOAR’s consultants and consider them true partners.

“Our clients always take the time to engage with us, so we have a complete understanding of what’s at stake,” Kelly said. “They rely on us to help focus and shape their opening and closing statements and witness examinations and trust us always to deliver the best work.”

However, Kelly has not worked at DOAR successively during his 18-year tenure. But like others who had left the firm to explore other options, he inevitably returned. What attracted him back to DOAR were the people and the special kinship he felt with them.

“When I first joined DOAR, I felt that the consultants really understood the importance of controlling the narrative,” Kelly said. “Particularly in complex litigation, developing a strategy and trial presentation based on the themes that resonate best with the triers-of-fact is crucial.”

He adds, “What attracted me back to DOAR were definitely the people. Scott Allen [DOAR President] and I spoke the same language, given his film and video production background. Also, if you look at the tenure of most of its employees, many of the consultants have been at DOAR for 20-30 years. In this business, that is a testament to DOAR’s culture. Its employees—the most experienced and the most proven consultants in litigation—have meaningful experience working with one another. What makes it even better is that they happen to be great people as well. It’s not often that you can say that you work with some of your best friends, but I genuinely do.”

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