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Focus Groups to Test Legal Cases

Legal-Graphics, an Oklahoma City litigation consulting and graphics firm, has added a focus group practice to help attorneys test the elements of their case on an unbiased audience similar to a jury. "The Legal-Graphics team has always done its best to provide clients with impartial feedback on the elements of their case, but we are still advocates for our clients," said Sam Anderson, the company's founder and CEO. "Recruiting outside people to listen to the facts of the case and then tell us which facts resonate with them has helped us to make our clients' presentations even stronger."


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Made in Oklahoma: Legal-Graphics

Working with a staff of seven, Anderson said the work hasn't changed too much over 20 years -
though a "war room" she opened a couple of years ago is popular with clients.

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Made in Oklahoma: Legal-Graphics

Sam, Anderson, fresh out of college with a degree in cartography, was working for a topographic engineering firm that specialized in pipeline mapping when an attorney requested a different kind of product: maps for a trial.

"That's how I started," Anderson said Tuesday, recalling how she got her start 20 years ago. "I did this work for the attorney, I enjoyed doing it, and I thought maybe there might be a need for this."

Being married to an attorney didn't hurt either. Given a chance to show how her work could make or break a trial, Anderson said, word of mouth spread quickly.

When you get good results, and you usually do, the other side wants to work with you," Anderson said. "They don't want to work against us."

The typical job involves meeting with an attorney and learning all there is about the case and the evidence, Anderson said. She thinks of herself as a good practice juror for attorneys preparing for trial.

Working with a staff of seven, Anderson said the work hasn't changed too much over 20 years - though a "war room" she opened a couple of years ago is popular with clients.

"One problem we were having was it's difficult to keep people's focus with Blackberries and telephones ringing," Anderson said. "We need to have the whole team meeting, looking at the case outline and figuring out the key points needing to be made."


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A Working Recovery

Nutrition-conscious and physically fit, Sam Anderson of Legal Graphics started having back pain
and breathing problems during the fall of 2007.


After an acupuncturist told her she had arthritis in her shoulder, a chiropractor
who used to be a respiratory therapist sent her to a specialist, who took a chest X-ray.
About a week later, in May 2008, Anderson was diagnosed with a 12-centimeter malignant tumor
that had insinuated itself between her lungs, collapsing one of them.

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A Working recovery

Nutrition-conscious and physically fit, Sam Anderson of Legal Graphics started having back pain and breathing problems during the fall of 2007.

After an acupuncturist told her she had arthritis in her shoulder, a chiropractor who used to be a respiratory therapist sent her to a specialist, who took a chest X-ray. About a week later, in May 2008, Anderson was diagnosed with a 12-centimeter malignant tumor that had insinuated itself between her lungs, collapsing one of them.

Anderson went straight into chemotherapy and radiation treatments for lymphoma, taking off only actual therapy days from her company, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on Dec. 14. She finished her treatments last November.

"I decided it wasn't what was going to define me," Anderson said Monday. "For the most part, I was here. I just had lots of wigs."

She received some relief almost immediately, as the first bout of chemotherapy broke up the tumor and she was able to breathe. She could also get eight hours of sleep again after not being able to rest more than two hours at a time for several months.

"It was a blessing," she said from the War Room, where she and her staff help attorneys think through the key points in their cases and develop graphic presentations to assist judges and juries in understanding their client's side of a legal argument.

She said most people tend to be visual learners, which makes graphic presentations helpful in establishing key points in a legal case.

Anderson said the War Room enables her to bring attorneys together with the entire Legal Graphics team, without distractions, and take them through a sort of dry run of their case, developing timelines and major points to be simplified and illustrated graphically.

Anderson said she did not experience the debilitating nausea that some chemo patients do, and managed to schedule her radiation treatments in the afternoon, disrupting business as little as possible.

Initially, she said, her vanity prompted her to tell her employees she might work from home, but except for the days for treatment, she went to the office.

Anderson said she had some discomfort in her esophagus, and found that the chemotherapy made the bottoms of her feet sore. The latter meant that she could not wear heels for a few months, and she missed them.

"I was born in high heels," she quipped.

Anderson, who acknowledged she was not able to bill as many hours during treatment as she did previously, said being able to work was helpful to her overall recovery.

"I wanted to be here," she said. "I just think you're better off."

Anderson said she was feeling so good that she was able to attend a federal trial during the summer of last year.

"They didn't know until the end of the trial that I was going through chemo," she said.

She is also proud of the fact that she was able to continue working out during her treatment.

Anderson said she has "awesome co-workers" who pitched in as needed.

"Hopefully, they didn't have to do that much more," she said.

Legal Graphics staffers took a series of weekly photos that showed how her hair grew back, which she said was kind of fun.

Graphic designer Stephen Grassie said he was shocked that Anderson's illness did not affect the business more than it did.

"I expected it to hurt us a lot more," he said. "We almost had to keep her away."

Grassie said he thought Anderson's ability to keep in touch with the business and her staff during her treatment was a grounding kind of experience for her.

"She was here a lot," he said.

Grassie said the staff was concerned for Anderson as she went to different doctors. In some ways, he said, the most stressful thing was not knowing what was wrong with her.

Anderson continues to be checked every three months and has had no sign of recurrence of the cancer.

Attorney Kent Meyers, one of Anderson's first clients two decades ago, said he noticed no decline in productivity or quality of work when Anderson was ill, although the physical effects of the treatment were evident.

"She has a remarkable facility to take kind of a broad, generalized concept of what I'd like to show to a judge or to a jury, and make it happen," Meyers said.

Meyers, with the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm, said anyone who needs to tell a story is better off telling it "so that the decision maker can see it rather than just hear it."

"They have had, for many years, the best ability to convert ideas into things that you can see and understand, than anybody I've ever dealt with," he said of Legal Graphics.

Meyers said that when he gets a new case, the first phone calls he makes are to his expert witnesses and to Legal Graphics, the latter to lock them in to working on his side of a particular dispute.

"That's how highly I think of what they do," he said.

Meyers said that 20 years ago Legal Graphics helped him turn a $52 million loss into a win on retrial, and their work assisted him just last week in settling another high-dollar case in his client's favor.

"They've been consistent winners for me," he said. "That level of excellence didn't go down one degree when Sam was ill."

Anderson, who has a cartography degree, said the idea for Legal Graphics was formed when she worked for Topographic Engineering. She said an attorney came in one day wanting some maps to help explain an oil and gas case. She said Topographic set up a separate entity for that type of business, but she eventually struck out on her own.

Legal Graphics currently has seven employees, including Anderson.

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Chef Illustrates How to Cook,
How to Eat on a Tight Budget

Legal-Graphics, Inc. and a chef are working together to help underprivileged residents learn
about healthy cooking on a budget.


The cooking program was inspired by Sam Anderson, president of Legal-Graphics Inc.
Anderson toured the agency and liked what the organization was accomplishing.
However, she thought the food needed a nutritional boost.

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Chef Illustrates How to Cook, How to Eat on a Tight Budget

A businesswoman and a chef are working together to help underprivileged residents learn about healthy cooking on a budget.

Local chef Julie Nguyen is giving advice on shopping, cooking and eating to participants in The Education and Employment Ministry, also known as TEEM. TEEM provides education and job training.

The cooking program was inspired by Sam Anderson, president of Legal-Graphics Inc. Anderson toured the agency and liked what the organization was accomplishing. However, she thought the food needed a nutritional boost.

Anderson partnered with her co-workers, TEEM employees and Nguyen to create a program designed to teach healthy cooking on a budget. The first class in the series was Thursday.


September 21, 2017