CodeX Book Club, Chapter 17— John Cleaves: Demonstratives

Congratulations to John Cleaves! His first e-book, Demonstratives: Making Effective Graphics For Trial, has just been published by NITA (the National Institute for Trial Advocacy) and LexisNexis. It is available at NITA and LexisNexis.

CodeX Book Club, Chapter 18: Author! Author!


Cleaves’ title at Latham & Watkins is Trial Technology Attorney and Manager of  the Trial Technology Consulting team, which he founded. He is member of the State Bar of Texas. Before joining Latham, Cleaves was a Director of Trial Support for FTI Consulting and the Director of Media Services for LegaLink. He’s based in the Los Angeles area.

During my tenure at Law Technology News as Editor-in-Chief, Cleaves was one of my favorite contributors—I quickly invited him to serve on my advisory board, and he always had great advice. One of my favorite articles that he wrote was “How Not to Crash,” (accessible if you have a LexisAdvance), where he discussed last-minute options to fancy presentation software: Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. I particularly liked one of his observations—and I was confident that it would resonate to just about any litigation professional.

Said Cleaves: “On a recent flight I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In one chapter he discusses the factors that lead to an airplane crash. In almost every instance it is the combination of a series of small problems—none sufficient on its own to cause serious trouble—that results in the plane and the ground having an untimely meeting. My first thought was “This is terrible airplane reading material!” My second was “This is exactly what happens when an inexperienced legal assistant tries to learn trial presentation software in a day or two!”

CodeX Book Club, Chapter 18: Author! Author! 1
John Cleaves


So what’s in the book and why should you buy it?
Says NITA: “You will learn, step by step, how to develop a consistent theme (or ‘brand’) throughout your demonstratives so they have their own ‘look and feel’ that jurors can readily identify as your side of the case.”

Demonstratives walks you through just about anything you could possibly need to demonstrate anything. Among NITA’s list of what you can accomplish from the instructions: creating important quotes, callouts, tear outs, data into graphs, charts that explain or analyze information, photographs, videos, animated GIFs, motion that brings to life traffic patterns, patent figures, equipment machination, three-dimensional physical models, still lifes, and text that highlights volume, size, and spatial relationships among objects. (See below as an example.)

CodeX Book Club, Chapter 17— John Cheaves: Demonstratives 2


Chapters include: 1) Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint. 2) Templates & Themes  3) Timelines 4) Quotes & Call-outs 5) Graphs 6) Charts 7) Photographs & Video 8) Animations 9) 3-D & Physical Models 10) Using Demonstratives.

The book also addresses the relevant Federal Rules of Evidence and offers a checklist of audio-visual equipment to bring and tasks to complete once in the courtroom, says NITA.

CodeX Book Club, Chapter 11: Robbie the Robot 8


Cleaves has the rare talent of writing with superb simplicity, avoiding clichés and jargon—yet delivering nuanced and pragmatic information. Likewise, his images are simple and understated, never overwhelming. That is a very rare skill. His  book is perfect for both beginners and sophisticated legal professionals.

The eBook’s functions is optimized on an Apple iPad because it enables you to “pinch-zoom” graphics to view the details. But the book can also be downloaded to your desktop and viewed with Adobe Digital Editions (both PC and Mac).

Congrats again, John!  The first of many, many more books!

Demonstratives: Making Effective Graphics For Trial
NITA & LexisNexis
Purchase link

See also: Linkedin: Demonstratives: Making Effective Graphics for Trial

Monica Bay is a Fellow at CodeX and a member of the California Bar. Twitter: @MonicaBay Email:

Cover image:
Internet image: Courtesy of NITA & LexisNexis