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Hometown Pride, World Class Presentations

NCG COURTROOM VISUALS CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF PROVIDING SAN DIEGO ATTORNEYS WITH LOCAL SERVICE AND WORLD CLASS COURTROOM GRAPHICS, VIDEOS AND 3-D ILLUSTRATIONS

“ With witness testimony and a compilation of photos, we are able to recreate exactly what the accident scene looked like in a photo format.”

“We started out in a dark room with an opaque projector displaying X-Rays on illustration boards and outlining them for display in court,” says John Alesi who co-founded North County Graphics Courtroom Visuals (NCG) with his wife Lisa Alesi 25 years ago. “We used traditional artist chalk and 2B pencils and cranked out type from large machines for press-on titles,” he adds.
In what might be best described as kismet, in the 1980’s Lisa was studying anatomy and planning a career in radiology. John was pursuing a degree in illustration when they realized that their respective passions could be combined for the benefit of personal injury attorneys. One weekend Lisa brought a cat cadaver home to earn extra credit for removing the pituitary gland intact. “John started illustrating the anatomy, and the rest is history,” she recalls.
Little did the two know that their burgeoning business would grow to include a legal design team of elite artists and 3-D graphics experts capable of producing world class visuals including medical illustrations, charts and 3-D images directly from CT and MRI scans. Yet that’s exactly what John and Lisa have done with NCG.

WORLD CLASS SERVICE FOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS

Naturally, NCG has far superior tools for creating compelling courtroom visuals than they had in 1989. “We bought our first Macintosh computer with 2 MB ram and a 40MB hard drive and were told we would never run out of room. Today our hard drives are measured in Terabytes and there is no end to the amount of ram our graphics gobble up,” Lisa says.
Indeed, the two have always embraced technological advances. John says, “We had one of the first large format printers in San Diego which enabled us to print exhibits 24 hours a day if necessary. We learned early on not to depend on outside service bureaus for case sensitive material and opted to buy a printer at a time when they cost as much as a luxury car.” The decision to embrace technology has been worth it. “As a result we gained the trust of clients and have been able to meet extraordinary deadlines,” he adds.

The two were also quick to maximize the advantages brought about by computer programs as they became available. “We did not foresee when we started how large a part the computer would play in our exhibits,” Lisa says. However, by the mid 1990’s, “We realized the powerful role of Photoshop in recreating accident scenes. All too often accident scenes are altered before photos are taken of how it looked at the time of the injury. With witness testimony and a compilation of photos, we are able to recreate exactly what the accident scene looked like in a photo format,” Lisa says.17
In more recent years, NCG has become known for their expertise in creating 3-D images from CT and MRI scans. “This has allowed us to put a verifiable source for the injuries right on the exhibit,” John says. Depending on the attorney’s needs, NCG will either provide a 3-D image in a digital format, or will create a medical illustration side-by-side with the image to convey even more clarity to the judge and juries. “Judges are more likely to accept exhibits that come directly from the imaging modalities than from a graphic designer’s interpretation.” Moreover, upon request, “We can colorize hardware and fracture lines, remove bones or visualize soft-tissue damage,” he says.

KNOWN FOR NEVER SAYING NO
NCG’s impeccable work and expedient delivery of courtroom visuals have earned them the respect of prominent San Diego attorneys. “We have great relationships with the legal and medical community. Having been in this business this long, we have grown up with the men and women who were once the newbies in the legal community and have now become trial stars in San Diego,” Lisa says. “Each client brings their case to us a little differently, therefore there is no single way we handle a case. We are comfortable whether it starts with a sit-down in an office, a phone call, an e-mail or a package in the mail with all pertinent medical reports.”
San Diego attorneys confirm that NCG provides custom services as their cases require. Personal injury attorney Skip Babbitt says, “In a recent motorcycle accident case, NCG did bio-illustrations on a total knee ACL, illiotibial band, meniscus and collateral ligament tear reconstructions using cadaver ligaments and all. They also illustrated the hand fractures with pins and rods at the last moment, and with chilling accuracy and detail. The doctor said it was an effective teaching tool for him to work with in trial. It made it easy for him to show the jury how the injury happened, what the repairs took to do and residual problems with flexion contracture.”

John and Lisa definitely appreciate the respect they have won in the San Diego legal community, but admit that the reputation has been hard-earned through vowing to never say no to an attorney, no matter what the deadline may be. “We appreciate that attorneys are a demanding group, and we have always worked with great flexibility on time lines for finished products and budgets. Our motto is to always say yes, no matter how big or small a case is, or when the deadline is,” Lisa says. Continuing, John explains “Not all of the cases allow us to have weeks to prepare. Some are given to our clients with short notice and we will always prepare something for them. We have never said no because there is always something we can do in a short period of time.”
This philosophy of never saying no has helped Lisa and John to build relationships that span decades. Case in point; NCG has worked with Benjamin Bunn “since almost the beginning,”

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Lisa says, and Bunn confirms that the work NCG has provided is exceptional. “NCG is exactly the type of company a trial lawyer needs; excellent work, extremely dependable and always creative. No job is too small, too big or too late to handle. Their help always makes our case clearer and more understandable,” he says. Likewise, NCG has counted attorney Michael Goldstein a longtime loyal client. “NCG has been creating exhibits for me for over 20 years. The results have always been high quality exhibits that are clear and comprehensible to the jury, and the jury verdicts have reflected the quality of their great work,” Goldstein says.
NCG’s help extends beyond creating graphics and/or videos that attorneys need. Instead, Lisa and John strive to go the extra mile as part of a “team, working along the same path for the same outcome,” John says. By way of example, he explains, “For complex surgeries, we do the medical research and collaborate with the medical experts to produce illustrations accurately and effectively. Medical cases are summarized and categorized for the best use of descriptive terms and for formulating the best graphical layout.”16

NCG also offers in-house video editing of client footage, or is happy to work with attorneys and their teams at their preferred location. “The Law Offices of Thomas M. Diachenko recently had some raw footage they needed prepared right away for a settlement video, and they wanted to direct the cuts. We came to their office and did all of the cuts right there for them and prepared a DVD for the morning,” Lisa says.
John and Lisa are also happy to extend their office hours and open their doors to attorneys needing a quick break during trial. “We are close enough to the courthouse that over the years we have fed our clients while they rush in to make copies or quick changes on exhibits. We are lucky enough to get to know some of our clients very well, and we are there for those even on the weekends, to make their lives a little easier,” Lisa says.
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FUTURE PLANS FOR THE FAMILY BUSINESS
“As long as we can provide a quality exhibit that enlightens the jury and brings a financial settlement to the people who need it, we will be satisfied. We will continue to keep pushing along the technological curve,” Lisa says of the future.
But the founding duo has not forgotten that art was one of their first loves. “We are very involved in the art community in Vista,” says Lisa. As such, John serves as the Vice President of  the Vista Art Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to keeping art alive in Vista. Both Lisa and John are members of Art Beat on Main Street where some of John’s personal art is on display. Both serve on fundraising committees for the Alley Art Festival, which brings old and young artists together to collaborate, create murals and enlighten young artists along a path of education and eventual careers.

As for the future of the family business? It may very well be passed on to John and Lisa’s children one day. “All three of our boys spent many days and evenings with us and learned a lot about running a business and art. Our son Christopher joined us last year to help with our company. He has been a tremendous asset,” Lisa says.
For now though, John and Lisa are immensely rewarded by playing a role in helping injured victims rebuild their lives. “Sometimes we get to meet directly with the clients that are injured and that keeps us focused on the real goal. We hope that in five years or twenty years, the work at our company will always reflect that goal,” she says.

Contact:
NCG Courtroom Visuals
www.exhibits4court.com
legalexhibits@mac.com
(800) 427-8712
207 Main St.
Vista, CA 92084

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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About the Author: Jennifer Hadley is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal

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