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13 Standard Types of Trial Graphics

In order to be considered a great jazz musician, tradition requires that a performer memorize and master—in any key—all of the jazz standards. These standards are jazz’s most popular and influential compositions—those songs that collectively form the core of this musical form. Depending on whom you talk to, the list of standards ranges anywhere from a hundred to several hundred songs. Knowing all the standards assures jazz musicians of three things. First, they can play with other musicians whom they have never met. Second, the standards offer a framework within which they can improvise. Finally, musicians who know all of the standards can generally handle any situation that might unexpectedly arise during a performance.

The same principles apply to the process of creating trial graphics. We too have our own standards list; that is, a collection of trial graphic types that every lawyer needs to master. Fortunately for us, we are not required to memorize hundreds of standards; by my count, we have 13 standard forms.

What are the standard forms? How do you determine which one to use? Eventually, you will answer these questions instinctively. Until then, I think the best way for you to make this choice is to imagine yourself in front of the jury with your graphic. At this point, never mind what that graphic actually looks like. Imagine you are able to speak directly to the jurors and hear yourself saying: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, here is a graphic that shows you ________.”

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