PDF Print E-mail
Using Multimedia in Legal Proceedings

Charts & Graphs

Charts are used daily in the courtroom and continue to be an important visual presentation technique. Graphics are meant:

  • To sell;
  • To inform;
  • To motivate;
  • To persuade.

Charts and graphs can take intimidating statistics and display them in an understandable visual format. It should capture a juror’s attention, enlighten them and facilitate a decision in your favor.

There is powerful software available to create charts, but you must still determine what type of chart is appropriate for the information you wish to display. Whether it is to display damages in a lawsuit, loss of consortium or loss business profits, choose the right type of chart. We are daily bombarded by an overload of confusing facts and figures. As an advocate, it is important that you make the information legible, easy to interpret, and interesting. Below is a listing of various types of charts and the type of data to use when creating them.

  • “Visuals can increase understanding of a concept, show relationships, highlight importance, clarify, capture interest and increase retention. Detailed statistics are easier to grasp when displayed on a chart. Flow charts can easily show processes and procedures, and organizational charts can depict functions and relationships. Bulleted lists of key words captivate, emphasize, strengthen and motivate.” - Elizabeth Hunt .
    Pie Charts - Pie charts show the components of a 360-degree whole broken into percentages and represented as pieces of a pie. They are favorites because they are easy to scan and comprehend. They are a great way to show percentages of a budget, areas of spending, regions of marketing concentration, or demographics of a population group. They are usually organized moving from a small segment to a large, beginning at the top. Breaking up the pie into 5 to 7 pieces is ideal.
  • Flowcharts - Flow charts are generally used to show the specific steps of an event or to show a process. For example, flow charts are good for showing how a widget is manufactured, how a lawsuit is filed, or steps in a safety process. It breaks the process down into key components. Make it appealing by not showing all the steps immediately, using different colors, or by inserting clever illustrations or icons. It may be necessary to break down the process into several well-designed flowcharts. Never sacrifice accuracy for entertainment. It can also be used to diagram estate plans, chain of events, time flows, and relationship between parties and even to organize cases.
  • Bar Charts - If you wish to show comparison, depict change, and give meaning to discrete points of data, use a bar chart. They are ideal for graphically illustrating financial statements. Bar charts can either be horizontal or vertical. These types of charts make it easy to visually compare quantities. A maximum of five or six bars is recommended.
  • Line Chart - If you need to display information about measurable quantities or trends over a period of time, then a bar or line graph may be the answer. As the value changes, their dips and peaks show trends from one time period to another. They are excellent to show flow and trends over time.
  • Document Chart - Document charts are ideal if you need to display a document, then have it enlarged and printed out or electronically displayed. You can highlight certain portions of the language or have text pullouts for an excellent effect.

Graphics and Presentation Software

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a simple pie chart or bar graph can be worth a whole spreadsheet full of numbers - especially when it comes to getting complex information across to the audience.” - Sue Hinkin.

There are generally three types of software to assist you in creating charts and graphic exhibits: graphics, CAD, and paint programs.

1. Graphics Software. Graphics software enables the user to create a graphic exhibit that will give a visual impression to the viewers. Bar graphs, pie charts, timelines, organization charts and a host of other graphical depictions provide the viewer with a visual impression by use of pictures and data. It can be used to represent and emphasize any kind of data or image. Charts can combine words and vivid graphic images to call attention to important detail.

2. CAD software. Another type of graphics software is a design program commonly called CAD or Computer Aided Design. It allows one to draw the interior of home, accident scenes, manufacturing plans, roads, etc.

3. Paint software. Finally, there are paint programs, such as Microsoft Paintbrush™, which enable you to draw freehand the picture of your choice using a mouse or other pointing device.

Slideshow presentation graphics programs like Microsoft PowerPoint™ and Corel Presentations™ provide a number of user-friendly features, including tutorials, predefined graphic templates, and clip art. They offer a good basic set of drawing and annotation tools. These programs are designed for all industries and do not come with specific legal templates or examples. They provide the capability of creating bullet slides, graphs, and inserting clip art to explain your client’s legal position. They generally come with a “screen show” feature that enables you to arrange the created slides and present them in whatever order you desire. These programs also allow you to create multimedia presentations by inserting graphics, sound, text, animations, and even live video as an OLE object.

Special “niche" graphics software can also provide valuable assistance in your cases. Three such graphics niche packages are VISIO™, TimeMap, and FlowCharter™. VISIO™ is a graphics program that is complementary to general presentation graphic programs, such as Microsoft PowerPoint™, and enables the user to create specific relationship “type” charts. The program provides numerous stencils to assist with “relationships” that are important in your case. For example, the stencils include workflow, house objects, roadway icons and host of other commonly used objects that can be used in the creation of your exhibits. Visio™ ( www.visio.com ).

The facts to create a timeline can be entered directly into the TimeMap software. As the facts are entered TimeMap automatically creates a proportional time scale and appropriately positions fact callout boxes. Timelines can be printed or saved as JPEGS and Metafiles for use in WordPerfect or Microsoft Word. TimeMap ( www.casesoft.com ).

Another niche program is FlowCharter™, which provides the capability to do timelines and other “flow” type representation for work or other concepts. FlowCharter™ (www.micrografx.com/flowcharter/).

If you want to add clip art to your graphic, there are many clip art libraries on the web. Clip art libraries contain a variety of predrawn images for you to bring into your slides. Also, all slide show programs offer some drawing tools, circles, squares, etc. If you are creative, you can present your points strongly by using shapes and colors. Maps Images, art and photographs are all available by searching Ditto ( www.ditto.com ).

Audio clips can be very dynamic if properly used. For example, it may be very compelling to use a voice over narration, or a talking testimonial, or a clip that illustrates a process. Also, be aware that audio or video clips require a significant amount of hard drive space and RAM memory.

After creating your graphic, you can always send it out to a service bureau for large format printing or blowups. One such nationwide service bureau is HP Certified Print Center - 1-888-684-4CPC, or www.cpc.hp.com . Also, consider Genigraphics (owned by inFocus) for your graphic needs. Requests made by 10 PM Central Time are shipped the next AM with delivery anywhere in the US by FedEx. ( www.genigraphics.com/)(800-790-4001 ).

Exhibit Bank. DQ ² Exhibit Bank™ is an easy to use CD-ROM library of legal graphics. These graphics are visually compelling and show how legal concepts can be presented in an easy to understand manner. Nearly 2000 professionally rendered charts present specific circumstances, conditions, or sets of data presenting visual graphic examples of how to present your legal arguments.

The CD-ROM is organized by case type: anti-trust, banking/lending liability, construction, contracts, insurance, intellectual property, labor/employment, personal injury, product liability, professional malpractice, securities, and toxic tort. It also provides specific categories for damage exhibits, highly used exhibits, and medical exhibits.

Once a case type is selected, the graphic screen appears, enabling the user to select from bar, chronology, document, flow, illustration, line, map, organizational, pie, and text graphics. Once a graphic type is selected, you can view many excellent completed graphics of the chart type. For example, if you choose case type for personal injury and the chronology chart type, you have over 20 charts to view. These include a chronology of medical injuries to a plaintiff, medical malpractice timeline, prior notice of safety problems, history of safety problems involving a product, percentage of workers injured on a particular job site and so on. Yo u can see the colors, data configuration, and viewer appeal of these professional graphs.

Each graph can be customized to your case and then ordered from DecisionQuest, the maker of the DQ ² Exhibit Bank™. Prices range from approximately $100 to $400, depending on the complexity of the chart. A chart can be ordered as a 3’ x 4’ court board, 8 ½” x 11” color print, or an 8 ½ “ x 11” color overhead transparency, or as a computer file. This product was developed by DecisionQuest ( www.decisionquest.com ) (800-826-5353) and costs $99.00.


Find Legal Software


eDiscovery Alerts

Click here to sign up for ediscovery e-mail alerts that provide news on the latest electronic discovery and evidence issues.