5 Trial Director Techniques for Seamless Trial Presentations
by Theresa Villanueva, Esq.
Director, Litigation Consulting
InData’s Trial Director is the leading software used by most trial presentation services and consulting firms. The software is designed to be user-friendly for inexperienced users and is also an incredible tool for power users such as professional trial technicians. I am always amazed at the technical abilities and savvy skills of trial technicians when operating this trial presentation software.
Imagine, you are in court doing a cross-examination of a witness and your trial technician is following along - even anticipating your every move, predicting every exhibit you want to show. In the warroom and during trial prep, it is the same experience; he/she is able to recall each document that you used that day or find any document you need. I've often heard that it's a bit like cloning yourself.
Recently, as I was thinking about the skills of our trial technicians, I decided to survey our team to get insight into what tips and tricks they find most useful. In my discussions, I discovered that each trial technician has their own style and preferred methods. But, here are 5 “tricks of the trade” our trial technicians shared with me that they use to make even the most difficult presentation seamless. (See also our articles: Top 10 Tips from Our Trial Consultants & 5 Tips for Using Trial Director and Trial Technicians Effectively).
1. Trial Director's "Saving Versions" Function
A great tool for when you need to track multiple versions of a document is the saving versions function. This tool will help you to track the progression of changes made to exhibits to ensure you are always displaying the correct version of the exhibit.
One of our trial technicians shared with me a challenge he encountered at trial where this function became an invaluable asset. During trial, he was faced with the task of doing redactions live in court. This is not an uncommon request, and the redaction tool can easily accomplish this. However, this situation required more than redacting exhibits. In this instance, a given exhibit would be admitted into evidence in redacted form for witness "A,” only to be re-admitted with additional redactions the very next day with witness "B.” Witness "A" would then be re-called later in the case, and they would need to revert back to the previously redacted version of the exhibit.
Thankfully, the TrialDirector shortcut for "saving versions" allowed him to accurately track the progression of changes made to each exhibit. This function saves an image of each version of the exhibit to a specific folder along with the date and time it was created, while the original exhibit (sans redactions) is left intact. This became an essential tool in being assured the "correct" version of the exhibit was being shown at all times to all witnesses.
2. Trial Director's Database Coding Features
Another great tool and time saver is database coding. Trial Director accepts coding directly from other case management programs such as Concordance and Summation. This is a great feature to have not only in building an accurate and complete database but it also makes searching in the database much easier. Getting it done ahead of time is key so last minute preparation can be focused on working with the attorneys and finalizing, not building, the database.
3. Customize Tool Bars and Presentation Preferences in Indata's Trial Director
Trial Director’s quick access toolbar can be set up to save favorite and most often used tools e.g. arrows, circles, rectangles, etc. This enables to the user to easily find the annotation tools they use most often easily and at a glance. Additionally, trial technicians can assign their own “hotkeys” for commonly used functions such as custom stamps, snapshots among others.
4. Trial Director's Track Admitted Exhibits Feature
It is not uncommon for a trial technician to keep a running list of exhibits used in court daily or rely on the court reporter to keep track of the exhibits that were admitted. With the track admitted exhibits function - this is a thing of the past. The track admitted exhibits function in Trial Director allows you to save the exhibits as you go. During trial, and while in presentation mode – you can create a workbook called “Admitted.” Here you can save the trial exhibits by the date they were admitted/used during trial. This is a great feature for a team who wants to keep close tabs on the trial exhibits used during the course of trial. This also serves as an excellent tool in preparing for cross or closing. If you need to know what exhibits were used and when, you can easily reference the admitted exhibits folder.
Tip: To retain mark-ups or annotations take a screenshot of the exhibit and save the screenshot too. This will keep a record not only of the document but also of any markups or annotations made during the trial.
5. Presentation Scripts in Trial Director
Attorneys will sometimes shy away from using Trial Director because they have become so accustomed to using linear type presentations such as PowerPoint. However, in the presentation scripts feature you can easily organize the exhibits in the order you/the attorney wish to present them. The exhibits are displayed one by one in the order of the attorney’s script as he goes through his/her presentation. This is a particularly effective method for attorneys who like to be very scripted, and like the comfort of knowing the exhibits are organized according to his/her script. This can be extremely beneficial where there is more than one presenter on a team. One attorney may like to run their presentation themselves and one may not. The presentation scripts function gives a sense of familiarity and control the presenting attorney is accustomed to with more linear presentation software but also allows for the flexibility needed by the trial technician when he/she needs to step in and run the presentation.
I am not a trial technician, nor are you likely to see me sitting in the “Hot Seat” in the courtroom any time soon. However, as a trial consultant I am frequently faced with the question from clients as to why they should use one of our trial technicians to run the Trial Director software at trial. My answer is simple – we use the best Trial Technicians in the business they are incredibly well versed in Trial Director and their expertise makes them invaluable to the team.
Related Trial Director, Trial Technician and Hot Seat Operator Information:
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