Demand Letters Review

Review By: Justin Zachary Esq originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association's publication The Docket

So often, CLEs, Trial Guides and workshops are geared toward trial skills. How often have you seen a CLE or speaker discuss cross-examination or closing? While those skills are admittedly vital, I was excited to sit down and dive into a different aspect of a trial lawyer’s practice that does not quite get as much attention: Demand Letters.

One of Trial Guides newest products is an eight (8) disc collection of some of Trial Guides top speakers discussing in-depth their thoughts on Demand Letters. If you are familiar with Trial Guides you will immediately recognize several of the speakers such Morgan Adams and Aaron DeShaw.

First, a quick word on the setup of the DVDs. The complete set from beginning to end totals an astonishing 774 minutes. That is just under 13 hours of content! While it is amazing to have that much content, it does make it difficult if not outright impossible to watch in one sitting. For example, it took me almost two weeks to get through the entire set. The videos you see are highlights from an exclusive live event that Trial Guides put on. At times you can tell that some of the speakers are edited. Trial Guides notes the reason for this is to preserve the value of attending the live event. I did find, however, the format to be more engaging then just basic tutorial DVD where the speakers are speaking in an empty room. Having the speakers make the presentation in front of a large crowd made the discussions not only more interesting, but simply more entertaining and much more authentic.

The first 5 DVDs pertain to the different aspects of writing demand letters. I appreciated that the DVDs started general and then dived into more complex and specific topics. You begin with topics such as Types of Demands to Avoid and then dive into topics as specific as Comparative Negligence Determinations in ClaimIQ.

The next 2 DVDs dive into specific types of demands such as automobile accidents, medical malpractice and products liability. While these are still highly informative, I found these much harder to follow without the written materials. It should be noted that the DVD set does not include any written materials from the conference you are watching. This was not as big of a factor until the speakers started discussing case-specific demands.

Unsurprisingly, Trial Guides saved the best for last. If you are going to watch one DVD from this set, I would highly recommend DVD 8. This part of the DVD set covers Handling Cases Efficiently from Intake to Conclusion. Matt Powell goes over administratively how to handle a case. Matt primarily handles catastrophic cases, but makes it a point to continue to be involved in smaller litigation cases with younger lawyers. This experience shows. The one time I pulled out my phone to take a picture of the screen (because remember there are no written materials) was when Matt was going through his “Case Timeline” and demonstrating the pros and cons of the timing of your demand. If you order this DVD set, I would recommend keeping DVD 8 in a safe place, because that is probably the one you are going to go back and watch several times.

I have to give kudos to the speakers and their presentations. If you are familiar with any of the Trial Guides speakers the same quality is exhibited throughout the DVD set. The speakers are not only engaging, but the substance is outstanding. With that being said, however, the long length of the DVDs make it difficult to stay focused and not fast forward to a topic I was personally more interested in. The one thing you do not want to do is skip over the Q&A sections. On just about every DVD the speaker takes time to answer questions from the attending audience. Thankfully, Trial Guides included the Q&As on the DVD set. These are probably the most engaging part of the DVD set.

Overall, I enjoyed the DVD set and am glad to have these in my library. With the total time being 13 hours though, I’m not sure if I will ever watch them from beginning to end. And there is where the biggest let down is. Without any written materials, it is more difficult to go back and refresh myself on the materials. When I’m writing a demand letter at my desk, I just don’t see myself pulling the DVD out and popping it in. While the DVD is great, I’m hopeful that Trial Guides puts this in a book format sometime in the future.

1. Lots of different topics covered in detail 
2. Speakers are Trial Guides quality 
3. Q&As
4. DVD 8
2. No written materials
3. DVD format is not for everyone

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