Are trial presentation services worth the additional cost? What do they actually involve? Let’s take a look at this helpful service increasingly provided by eDiscovery vendors.
When it’s finally time to take your case to trial, you want things to go as smoothly as possible. Presentations should be seamless and easy for the jury to follow. It’s also important to be aware of human behavior and what might subconsciously affect a jury’s understanding of your case. Trial technicians are experts in all these matters and more.
You probably know that a trial tech is responsible for running the display and courtroom technology while the trial attorney argues their case. When done right, the presentation flows and the person running the hot seat can anticipate what the presenter will say next, pulling up supportive documentation. An experienced trial tech already familiar with the case will require very little communication from the presenting attorney. This keeps the presentation flowing and prevents the lawyer from breaking their train of thought to call up exhibits.
Good trial presentation service vendors will understand the technical requirements and peculiarities of courtrooms. They also have the skills to decide optimal placement of presentation technology to ensure clear visibility and audio for the jury.
More than Meets the Eye
As critical as the in-court presentation support is, it’s only part of what we mean when we talk about trial presentation services. Trial techs are not just helping during working hours in the courtroom, they’re also in the war room with your team late into the evening, discussing strategy and adjusting the presentation to accommodate any pivots that need to happen as the trial progresses. In fact, arranging and organizing the war room is often part of a trial presentation services package.
Typically, a trial tech will be onsite in the war room and available to offer their feedback on the presentation based on their experiences on similar cases in court. This allows you to leverage that knowledge and in-court expertise to advance your case. The wider your team’s scope of expertise, the easier it is to pivot if you need to. When considering whether you need to hire an outside trial tech, keep in mind these intangibles that can’t necessarily be expressed in a line item on a scope of work, but which still add measurable value.
For example, having a trial tech can help you diversify who has access to the important data and strategy of your case. If someone on your team has an emergency and needs to step aside mid-trial, how quickly can you get their replacement up to speed? Particularly against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, these last-minute changes are becoming more common. Like other members of your support team, a trial tech who has been involved early on will have unique insights to pass along to any new team members quickly catching up to speed.
Hesitancy to Use Trial Presentation Services
Perhaps you have a high-profile client or a case that is sensitive for other reasons, and you want to limit the number of people in contact with your client. While perfectly understandable, don’t let this prevent you from engaging the proper services that your case requires. Know your own limits so you can bring in experts to areas where your team has less experience.
It’s not uncommon to plan a “do it yourself” approach, using a junior associate or paralegal to run the hot seat. You might ask your eDiscovery vendor to set up the court laptop for that person on your team. But as we’ve explored, there’s much more to trial presentation than meets the eye. It’s worth asking if it’s actually defensible to put someone without any experience doing this work into such a position. Are the cost savings worth the risk to your case and your client?
It can be difficult to imagine what the courtroom realities will look like until you’re actually there. By the time you’re in trial, presenting attorneys want to be able to concentrate on the points of their case rather than constantly worrying about whether the correct slide is up or how to pivot if there is a technical glitch. No one wants the jury to think that their team is scrambling or unprepared.
In the event that you make a last-minute decision to bring on a trial tech, your vendor will help as much as possible. However, the best practice is always to plan in advance to keep costs down and have a wider selection of trial techs to choose from. A last-minute rush to bring on someone who doesn’t know the facts of the case and may not be able to anticipate the moves and strategy is never ideal.
When you go to the market in search of trial presentation services, understand the significance of what you’re looking for. Remember the service includes those intangible benefits that can be difficult to quantify, like the expertise of individual trial techs. Be realistic about your team’s capabilities: have any of you worked the hot seat before, have you seen it done, do you know exactly what it entails? You have an obligation to your client to be prepared and protect them, and trial presentation services can make everyone’s lives easier.