by Ken Lopez
“I generally delegate the preparation of litigation graphics, and I tend to keep things pretty low-tech anyway.”
To be fair, this is the way cases have been tried for a very long time, and the partner had had a great deal of success with this approach. So, what’s wrong?
What’s wrong is that jurors’ expectations have changed enormously in just the last few years. Jurors expect a trial presentation to be polished and more like the nightly news than like a corporate PowerPoint. They expect a trial lawyer to be polished and well-practiced, more like Brian Williams than a dull CLE presenter. This rural Arkansas jury said it better than I ever could when they responded to a question about the use of trial technology by saying, “Today is technology. That’s what it’s all about.”
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Trial techno-whiz Ted Brooks, gives us some great tips on staying connected in court while remaining agile and respectful.
First, ALWAYS turn off any sounds, including the vibrating alert. A buzzing device on a table can be just as noisy and distracting as a ringing bell tone. This applies to your phone, iPad, and even your laptop. Nobody actually wants to hear your Windows login music, or an alert that your portfolio value has just dropped by 10%.
Next, it’s all about the device. If you were hoping to learn here how to make the Judge think you’re not actually using your phone in court (when you are), you are probably going to be disappointed. Forget about your phone. Even if you hold it under the table to secretly type away, there’s something about your posture that makes it quite obvious to anyone (i.e., Judge, Juror, Bailiff…) what’s going on. In fact, a juror might view this as disrespectful, and that you have no concern for the trial. If they can’t do it, why can you? This is not to imply you need to revert to 1980 where none of us were in contact with anyone during trial. There are ways to make it work.
Laptop: Most current laptops do not have cellular data built in, but
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Lately, our clients are asking us to help recommend equipment to compliment the persuasive graphics we’ve created for their cases. While, for a trial veteran, this is an easy question, but for those who are not as familiar with the courtroom, this can be something of an anxiety initiator (think of the younger associate who has been tasked with this and the lead attorney – senior partner – is relying whole-heartedly on them).
With that thought, here’s a list of equipment we typically recommend for our clients:
2. Back-up laptop
3. External hard drive
4. Back-up external hard drive
5. Distribution Amp (also called a DA)
10. LCD monitors
11. ELMO (Digital Presenter)
13. All the appropriate wiring, cables and power adapters
Tune in next week when we recommend more specifics for these pieces and the best way to go about putting everything together.
By: Ted Brooks
Exhibits are the building blocks of litigation, and if you end up at the short end in the battle of admitted evidence, you lose the trial. Like many sports, coming in second place in trial is not really a good thing. While you may have to play the hand you’ve been dealt, you do have options as to how you manage and present your evidence.
For purposes of this article, we will assume that you have a large volume of documents – although the recommendations and best practices shared may be applied to cases of any size.
Organizing the Data
You may already be onto the idea that finding what you need during trial is fairly important. Setting up a reliable data structure can mean the difference of finding that key document in a hurry, or not finding it at all. This relates to naming and structuring of folders and files. While there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way, there are definitely good and bad ways for this.
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By: Ryan Holmes
In the six short years since Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s iPhone to the world—with his famous 4,000 Starbucks lattes prank—smartphones have become for many people, an absolute necessity in their lives.
The smartphone may also well be the most important productivity tool in—and out of—the office. This year an estimated 200 million workers will tap into mobile business apps to collaborate and conference, access and edit docs, check email, chat and more on the go.
But there’s one dirty little secret: Most mobile business apps kill more time than they save. I preview hundreds of apps on the job at HootSuite, a social media management tool used by Fortune 100 companies, mom-and-pop businesses and five million users around the globe. And I see countless apps that make big promises and don’t deliver. They’re non-intuitive, with clunky interfaces. They have tiny user bases and no customer support. They make simple tasks – like making a to-do list – ridiculously complex.
But the best of the bunch really do make working on the go easier. These seven free mobile business apps – a mix of tried-and-true classics and road-tested upstarts – merit a spot in the phone of any office warrior this year.
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By Mark Hansen
San Francisco lawyer Christopher B. Dolan’s favorite litigation tool is Trial Touch, an iPad app for trial presentation that he says allows him to prep, organize and try a case while collaborating with his office staff on all documentation.
Roanoke, Va., lawyer Robert Dean’s favorite trial tool is TrialPad, a document presentation app for theiPad that allows him to enhance, zoom and annotate exhibits in court with only a projector, a screen and his iPad.
Montrose, Colo., lawyer David L. Masters doesn’t have a favorite tool, but says PDF writer Adobe Acrobat is the application that has allowed his office to go paperless for more than 10 years and can also be used to present evidence in court.
Those were some of the results of a survey of technology gurus in the legal field on the technology tools they use most in their law practice.
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By Morgan Smith
Timelines are probably one of the most common things we create at Cogent Legal for clients in all types of cases. Employment, business and personal injury cases are ideally suited for laying out the facts in chronological order to enhance jury understanding. When discussing the various options of timelines with clients, there are basically two main types to consider: Static and Interactive.
A static timeline can be done on a blow-up board and shown to the jury during any key moment of the case. The downside of a static timeline is that, unless it is really simple with only a few entries, you risk overwhelming the audience with so much information at once that it can be hard for them to understand.
For this reason, we generally recommend attorneys start with an interactive timeline that shows events one at a time so that the jury focuses on a single point as the attorney makes it. The interactive format also allows for document treatments so you can choose a button to reveal key documents that relate to the timeline entry.
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By Ted Brooks
In “How Not to Crash
,” John Cleaves offers survival tips for litigation support staff who find themselves sudden occupants of the courtroom’s “hot seat.”
Next, Ted Brooks offers five important rules to follow when you are in charge of trial technology in “Survival Secrets
Mr. Cleaves approaches the topic from the perspective of a paralegal or litigation support staffer, while I share a few tips, based on my years of experience. John (Cleaves) also has a great deal of experience in the Hot Seat, but for purposes of this piece, chooses to offer some relatively “low-tech” ideas for getting the job done when you don’t have enough time or resources to purchase and learn a bunch of new software and equipment.
I’m not going to rewrite my article here, but I can tell you that anyone who happens to find themselves assuming the role of a Trial Tech will quickly understand why it’s called the Hot Seat. If not for the pure stress of the job itself, add the expectation from everyone that nothing will go wrong – ever. Add to that the fact that once a jury gets accustomed to seeing an exhibit displayed within a couple seconds of its mention, what might have been an acceptable delay using hard copy exhibits will seem like a very uncomfortable eternity.
With that, one of favorite sayings with respect to trial technology is that “It’s not a matter of if something will go wrong, but rather when, how badly it will fail, and whether anyone else will even realize there was a problem.”
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By Morgan Smith
I’m getting ready to head to Vegas for the annual American Society of Trial Consultants conference. I appreciate networking with this group because their members are full of ideas and new information on trial research, strategy and technology. Check out ASTC’s publication The Jury Expert and their blog aggregator, The Red Well, to tap into two great resources on trial advocacy. At the conference, I’ll join litigation consultant Alison Bennett for a presentation on “iPad Technology for Trial Consultants,” during which we’ll highlight many apps that increase productivity at work, home and, of course, in the courtroom. I’ve blogged before about my favorite presentation apps for litigation (see, for example, this earlier post on Keynote for Attorneys, which is a great alternative to PowerPoint; or this post on SlideShark and Idea Flight). Now, I’d like to mention a few others apps that I’ve come to rely on and truly enjoy.
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