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In recent months we have published lists of A2L Consulting's top articles related to various trial-focused topics. These articles include our very best insider tips plus 30 years of observed best practices pertaining to opening statements, mock trials, litigation graphics, and trial preparation generally. One additional topic that deserves special attention is the use of trial technology and how best to use a trial technician or hot-seater. As experienced trial professionals know (or even long-time readers of this publication), if you fail to use the right trial technology set-up or trial technician/hot-seater, you can inadvertently damage your credibility. In most cases, the benefits of using trial technology far outweigh any (easily mitigated) risks of doing so. Done well, the use of trial technology will create a deeper connection with the factfinder(s), it will speed up a trial, and you will be perceived as more credible and thus more persuasive. Below are 10 of our top articles focused on how to engage the right trial technician for you and how to work with that hot-seater to maximize persuasion at trial: 12 Tips to Hire the Right Trial Technician for Your Trial 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians E-Book: How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology

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For those of us in the persuasion business, the biggest stage in the world is currently on Capitol Hill. Last week, millions watched the start of this country’s fourth impeachment effort with interest and concern. Putting aside politics and the question of who is right and who is wrong, I'm professionally interested in how well the various involved parties are performing rhetorically, visually, and technically -- especially as it affects persuasion. In day one, I watched a classic mistake occur that offers lessons for trial lawyers and the teams who support them. Here, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a former prosecutor, questioned a witness and attempted to use video support his questioning. However, when he asked for the video to be played, probably in PowerPoint, there was no audio. He quickly adjusted and read the transcript, but it clearly flustered him. The relevant video is less than a minute long and should cue up to 5:09:45 if you hit play. The error is inexcusable in the modern era -- whether on Capitol Hill or in the courtroom. Like all errors of this sort, it was preventable through practice and preparation.  Technical problems happen. Great trial teams and litigation support firms are best judged in these moments. The best teams always practiced enough to anticipate such issues and the response to them. The best teams practice together until first chair and his or her trial technician/hot-seater have formed a bond that allows both to quickly overcome a technical problem.  We have written extensively about how to prepare with your hot-seater for the best results, how to practice and prepare properly for trial, and how to avoid a technical snafu in the first place: Why Rapport Between a Trial Lawyer and a Trial Technician is So Important 10 Timely Tips For Trial Preparation The #1 Reason Top Trial Teams Keep Winning What Does Using a Trial Technician or Hot-Seater Cost? Free E-Book Download: How to Find and Engage the Best Trial Technician Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics Will using a trial technician make me look too slick and high-tech? Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well A video of George Zimmerman's lawyers taking a do-it-yourself approach 12 ways to avoid a Superbowl-style tech failure See a video of a trial technician in action 12 Tips to Hire the Right Trial Technician for Your Trial 5 Trial Director Tips for great presentations 6 ways to use video depositions Sample One-Year Trial Prep Calendar for High Stakes Cases In the modern courtroom, trial technicians/hot-seaters are outfitted with redundant technology and have practiced sufficiently with first-chair so that such issues have been anticipated and planned for. A Capitol Hill hearing is a lot like a courtroom -- you only get one try to get it right. Prepare sufficiently or you can damage your credibility and persuasive ability with a simple and avoidable technical problem.

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At A2L, we publish so many articles valuable to trial lawyers and litigation professionals that we like to share our very best periodically. Below are the top three articles (based on readership) published in the second quarter of 2019. Each has links that allow you to easily share the article on Twitter or LinkedIn. Top 3 A2L Litigation Articles Published in Q2 2019 1. 5 Valuable Lessons From Some Horrible Infographics 2. 10 Timely Tips For Trial Preparation 3. A Useful Directory of Federal Courtroom Technology

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10 Timely Tips For Trial Preparation

Working at A2L, I have the distinct pleasure of watching many of the world's best trial lawyers prepare for trial. Most start months or years in advance. Those lawyers engage A2L early to do theme testing with a focus group or to organize and run a mock trial. Each of these events requires the creation of litigation graphics and usually assistance in developing an opening statement. Having watched so many great trial lawyers prepare for 25 years, I have been able to observe patterns in how they prepare. Below I share ten chronologically ordered tips (plus accompanying resources) based on these observations. If you're less than one year from trial, I hope these tips are still helpful, and I hope you will get in touch with me. More than one year from trial: There is no better time to do theme testing then when discovery is still open. Read more in How Early-Stage Focus Groups Can Help Your Trial Preparation and as you start this journey, always remember that Great Trial Lawyers Behave Differently. One year before trial: Plan your first of two mock trials. There are dozens of good reasons to conduct a mock trial, but forcing yourself to prepare early may be the very best one. Read my one-year trial planning guide and read A2L's Opening Statement Toolkit. Also, it is a good time to read A2L's Jury Consulting and Mock Trial Handbook. Nine months before trial: Begin or continue development of your litigation graphics. If you conducted a mock trial, you already have a good start. Read How Long Before Trial Should I Begin Preparing My Trial Graphics?, 10 Reasons The Litigation Graphics You DO NOT Use Are Important and The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation. Six months before trial: Refine your opening statement story and the visuals that will support it. Make sure your experts have their visuals being worked on by your litigation graphics team - not the in-house people at the expert's firm. Watch Persuasive Storytelling for Trial Lawyers and read Storytelling for Litigators. To help develop your experts, have them read this three-part series on How to Be a Great Expert Witness. Three months before trial: Conduct opening statement practice sessions with your trial team, litigation consultants, and your client. Read The First Version of Your Story Is NOT Your Best, 3 Ways to Force Yourself to Practice Your Trial Presentation, and Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well.

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At A2L Consulting, we have been providing trial technicians (also known as hot-seat operators) to help our clients display materials at trial since the 1990s. The role of a trial technician is a unique one. These men and women routinely work late nights during a trial to ensure that they are totally prepared for whatever can arise. As we have said elsewhere on this blog, the ideal hot-seat operator must have a very close working relationship with the lead trial attorney and with the other team members, must have a calm demeanor in case he or she is called upon with no notice to provide something critical for the trial, and must have an understanding of the thousands of documents that will inevitably be involved in any trial. Most importantly, he or she must be able to make the trial presentation appear to be seamless and flawless. We have seen instances in which opposing counsel, or their hot-seat operator, stumbled in one respect or another – and their credibility took a dive. We have written in articles like What a Great “Hot Seat Operator” Can Add to a Trial Team and 12 Tips to Hire the Right Trial Technician for Your Trial about the ideal qualities for a hot-seat operator. We've even released a free book on the topic called How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology. Click here to download it. One thing that we perhaps have not discussed as much as we should is that a great hot-seat operator must, from the beginning, become totally conversant with the technology available in the specific courtroom in which he or she will be working. And there are substantial differences: Some courtrooms have expensive, built-in technology that is state of the art. Some will have excellent technology – if this were the year 2003. Some have no technology at all. It is the responsibility of the trial team, and of the hot-seat operator above all, to design an appropriate, modern technology set-up for the courtroom that will serve the paramount goal of persuading the jury. Below we have prepared what should be a very useful directory of the technology available in the 90 federal district courts across the nation and we have linked to each of the courts’ websites.

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The Top 10 Litigation Articles of 2018

It's my eighth year writing an end-of-year top-10 style article. That feels pretty great because in that time, we have published more than 600 articles and A2L's Litigation Consulting Report blog has been visited one million times. Wow, right?

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Rapport, or lack of it, between a first-chair attorney, who is in charge of a trial presentation, and his or her trial tech can make or break a case. When this rapport exists, the result is akin to a well-choreographed ballet, a perfectly orchestrated symphony performance, or a beautifully planned newscast. Everything happens on time and on cue. There are no pregnant pauses, and visuals feel as if they support what is being said by the lawyer, rather than being used as a reminder to tell the lawyer what to say. When this relationship is not perfect, the trial presentation can feel like watching a streaming online movie that is constantly pausing to be buffered. When a presentation has not been sufficiently practiced between a first-chair attorney and a trial tech, you will see missed timing, flustered attorneys and a general unease that does not have to be there. Trial techs, of course, are the people whose job is to ensure that content flows in a smooth, pre-scripted fashion, making the trial lawyer look like a polished presenter. The trial tech controls the electronic presentation in court, brings in the evidence at just the right time, and plays audio and video of depositions in a way that helps the judge and jury appreciate and understand the case. A good trial tech, as I have said before, frees the lawyers and the litigation consultants to marshal the witnesses and the evidence to tell a compelling story. A great trial tech produces that seamless result. Some litigation graphics consultants can have only a limited interaction with the first-chair lawyer, and the trial can still be a success. That cannot be true of the relationship between the top lawyer and the trial tech. That must be outstanding. How can you make sure it becomes outstanding and stays that way?

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The trial technician, sometimes called the hot-seater, is the person who runs the courtroom technology so that a trial team does not have to do so. A trial tech typically uses programs like Trial Director to manage thousands of exhibits and has each at the ready to be displayed and highlighted. During opening, closing, and expert testimony, the trial tech runs the PowerPoint system to ensure flawless and well-choreographed presentations. The benefit of using a trial technician is that the trial team can focus on the law and the facts and can concentrate on connecting with the judge and jury rather than having to worry about the technology. When the relationship between trial counsel and the trial tech is smooth and well-rehearsed, the presentation looks like a perfectly planned and executed professional live production. We have been deploying trial technicians around the country for trials long and short for the past three decades. We were even sending out trial techs before PowerPoint was being used in the courtroom and when the preferred format for electronic evidence handling was the laser disk. In this time, we have employed dozens of trial techs and have learned what makes a good one and what kind of preparation equals success. Here are 12 tips for finding just the right technician: 1. Experience is everything. Our techs usually have a dozen or more major trials under their belts. Some have been to trial hundreds of times. They also routinely run the technology at hearings and during arbitrations/mediations. See, With So Few Trials, Where Do You Find Trial Experience Now? 2. The first-chair attorney must be willing to practice with them. There is no substitute for practice and preparation in the courtroom. The great trial lawyers practice frequently so that the trial looks flawless. See Practice, Say Jury Consultants, is Why Movie Lawyers Perform So Well. 3. They have war stories galore - particularly in overcoming problems. Courtrooms are not usually state of the art, so much of the technology must be brought in or enhanced. Otherwise, jurors are left wondering why their own living rooms and work conference rooms are much more advanced than what your trial team is providing. Great trial techs have overcome hundreds of small issues in a trial. See 12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout.

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