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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My favorite quote from this article is “If you want to see the worst of someone’s personality, go to trial with them — especially those who are only in trial once a year or less.
A little OCD can go a long way. Making sure everything is in order before you go to sleep at night will help you rest. Waiting to finish something in the morning can lead to other problems if something goes slowly, or additional work comes in. One point should be very clear — this is not a 9 to 5 job.”
By Ted Brooks
The option of using the tools of technology for trial presentation is no longer an issue for debate. Once thought of as running the risk of appearing “too slick,” juries and judges now expect to have the ability to view the evidence — even in bench trials.
With this acceptance comes an increased level of expectation. Where it was once not uncommon for an attorney to spend a few minutes digging through a stack of exhibits or boxes to locate a desired exhibit (and sometimes not finding it), it is now only a matter of seconds from the time an exhibit is mentioned until it is on the screen for all to view.
This bridge between attorney and evidence is often referred to as the “Hot Seat.” Like the attorney who could not find the important exhibit, the Hot Seat operator shares in the burden and risk of disturbing the flow of the trial. Although it looks like a well-rehearsed performance when done properly, technology glitches can cause a delay — or even a mistrial.
Here are a few things to include in your “insurance policy” that can help prevent a courtroom meltdown.
By this point, you should have reservations for your hotel rooms, your office space, and your equipment. With the exception of your travel arrangements (see below), you should very much be in the “crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s” stage of planning. In other words, it’s time to:
by: Chris Ritter
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by Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
Some online estimates say that about 30 million PowerPoint presentations are given every day. That number seems more than a bit high, and it’s hard to find a credible source for it.
In the legal community, we give our fair share. Since legal services are about 1% of the total economy, we can make a guess that at least 60,000 PowerPoints are being given every day in the U.S. legal industry, or about 6,000 for every hour of the working day.
PowerPoint has been the dominant presentation software in the courtroom since 2003. When used well in the courtroom, it allows a skilled presenter to captivate an audience with a well told story, enhance the audience’s understanding of a case, and persuade skeptics that the presenter’s position is correct. In other words, a well-crafted PowerPoint presentation helps tip the scales of victory, potentially substantially, in your client’s favor.
Unfortunately, I believe the typical PowerPoint presentation used in the courtroom causes more harm than good. Here are twelve easy-to-avoid PowerPoint mistakes.
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A new app for the iPad is proving to be a contender in the litigation technology world. Jury Pad from Bench and Bar helps attorneys and consultants alike leave their legal pads, sticky notes and even pens and papers at home and organizes all the relevant information one would need during voir dire. With the ability to pre-load information from your Pc or Mac ahead of time, this app can be used on the fly or prior to court.
The app also allows you to export all your information to a spreadsheet or text file to share with the rest of your trial team. A true innovation in trial technology!
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