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The Litigation Consulting Report

From the Hot Seat: To Use or Not to Use Trial Presentation Software

Posted by Alex Brown on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 @ 02:42 PM

david-goliath-trial-presentation-trial-director.jpgby Alex Brown
Director of Operations
A2L Consulting

While I was working on a case with one of our clients, it came to light that the opposition was using a trial technician for trial. At first our client did not want to bear the expense and did not feel that the case lent itself to the use of a full-time “hot seat” operator.

I asked the client a few questions:

  1. What percentage of potential jurors carry a smartphone?
  2. Of that group, how many have tablets?
  3. Of those people who are “connected,” how many will be impressed by the flash and professionalism of a skilled trial tech?

As you would expect, the numbers were high. It was obvious to everyone that if you are on a case and one side is using trial software, you have to match the other side or be left in the dust.

People expect to see technology in the courtroom, appreciate the effort if it is made, and do not understand if one side does not use it. If your opposition is using modern technology and you are using the overhead and drawing on flip charts, your message will be lost.

In this instance, we helped our client find a solution that did not permit the opposition to make it look unprepared and unprofessional.

Here are 10 good rules for using trial presentation software to the best effect. 

  1. Provide training. Make sure if you are going to use it, know how to use it or find someone that does. The software is designed to make your presentation effective and seamless. If you are not getting that result, bring in someone who can.
  1. Use the right tool. Sanction, TrialPad, TrialDirector (laptop or iPad), and OnQue are the top platforms today. Use the one that’s best for you. Ninety percent of trial teams that use this type of software use TrialDirector, simply because it works. This should not take away from the other platforms. Sanction has improved, and OnQue is the new kid on the block and seems to handle video much better than the alternatives. But comfort is paramount, so use the platform that is most comfortable to the one presenting. Remember, you are not the one running the presentation. They are there to support you.
  1. Know the court. Each court has its own rules. Sometimes a judge will not allow technology at all, and sometimes the technology built into a courtroom will not work because it is outdated, so know the court and their rules. For example, see 5 Secrets for Trying Cases in SDNY.
  1. Don’t procrastinate. Sometimes you have to make last-minute changes, but it’s always better to have your video clips, PowerPoint decks, and exhibits/demonstratives done early. Not just because you do not want your team putting these things together in the middle of the night just before trial but mainly because you need the time to practice. See, The 13 Biggest Reasons to Avoid Last-Minute Trial Preparation.
  1. Run everything through and video record yourself to see how it all looks and works. This also permits you to build a level of comfort with your trial tech and allows you to see how the software handles your clips, decks, and images. Remember, you don’t need to be worrying about anything more then you already do.
  1. Build in redundancy. Everything in twos. Two machines, two switches, two of every cable, and sometimes two techs. This depends on the scope of the case, but a backup operator can be a lifesaver when a case lasts longer than three weeks. Life happens. Have someone ready to pick up the ball if somehow it gets fumbled. Anything can happen to a person or a piece of technology if you give enough time, so be ready with a backup.
  1. Either/or is a great concept. Trial boards, handouts, and physical models are still useful. Use them along with your modern presentation software. In court is not where you need to learn how to use them or which one works better.
  1. Make a key. Make sure you create a set of naming criteria to name everything you are going to use, and do not deviate from those criteria. This will allow everyone on the team to know where things are and to know where to look for that unscripted document/clip. Do not make it a hard key where they need to look in a book to find the location. Make it easy because then it is faster and it will make you look more professional.
  1. Think of part-time help. If you simply cannot have a tech there every day, one option is to have someone do it on certain days. Opening, the testimony of experts, or closing – the days that may matter most.

  2. Set hot keys. Most programs will allow you to set up hot keys or short cuts. Figure them out and use them. Three seconds is a lifetime when you are waiting for someone to show a call-out or even just bring up an image. It makes you look unprofessional and gives strength to your opposition.

Other articles from A2L Consulting focused on trial technicians, hot seat operators, and trial presentation software include:

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Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Trial Director

Last Day to Vote: Best of Legal Times 2016

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 @ 12:43 PM

bestofthelegaltimes2016-lastday.jpgby Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

A2L was thrilled to be nominated in a number of categories again in the “Best of Legal Times” competition. We have won in these categories before, and I'd love your vote today in support of us.

I think these types of surveys are very useful for lawyers to participate in by identifying the very best service providers to the legal industry whom they are familiar with, in any number of categories. Once the results are in and published, lawyers and law firms can use the survey results, which can serve as a handy shortcut for finding the best providers. This includes, of course, trial consulting, jury consulting and all the other areas in which A2L competes.

These surveys don’t replace the old-fashioned method of seeking out good references and using providers that you’ve had good experiences with in the past. But they add very useful information – the “wisdom of crowds” in the form of the opinions of hundreds of lawyers who have looked to these providers in the past.

We believe that we stack up with the top providers in our industry. This year, we were nominated as Best Trial Consultants, Best Jury Consultants, and Best Demonstrative Evidence Provider.

If you'd like to participate, follow this link and scroll (you can skip the rest) to questions 45, 46, & 49 - don't forget to press the DONE button at the end.


Thanks for helping to identify the best in the business. You've told us before that we are at the top of our industries, and I hope you'll do it again.

best of the legal times 2016

Previous related accolades:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Trial Director, Awards, blog

Today's Tech Failure at the George Zimmerman Trial Takes Center Stage

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 @ 02:33 PM

trial technology failure george zimmerman skypeBy Ken Lopez
A2L Consulting

When your trial technology fails, you fail in the eyes of your jury.

This reality was on cringeworthy display this morning at the George Zimmerman trial. While examining a remotely-located witness via Skype, a popular video calling service, one or both of the parties to that video call was Skype-bombed.

That is, as the witness testified, other Skype users, likely unknown to the witness or prosecutors, began trying to initiate a Skype call during the live testimony.

The result was a screen full of pop-up windows, an obviously annoyed judge and a healthy dose of embarrassment for all involved - all on live TV. You can see the screen shot above and the video below will show you how things head downhill starting at the 40-second mark.


When it comes to trial technology, if you are not planning for failure, you are absolutely planning to fail. This was certainly true in this instance, and the failure was foreseeable and easily preventable.

There are three prongs in our suite of services at A2L Consulting: trial/jury consulting, litigation graphics and courtroom technology support. In this third area of courtroom trial technology, we have to face the challenges of running a live and unpredictable production at trial all the time. The persons charged with making the lawyers look perfect are called trial technicians or hot-seaters.

Great trial techs spend as much time talking about what might go wrong as what we need to do to get it right. Among the safeguards we have in place is the fact that we generally never allow our trial laptops to be connected to the Internet. This way, we can keep a clean wall between the trial laptop and one that is used for Skype, Facebook, Outlook or other services that might interfere at trial.

Here, instead of using Skype, one could have easily used a closed and secure video conferencing system like GoToMeeting or WebEx. Then, pranksters would have not been tempted to search out the names of the prosecutor or witness to Skype-bomb them.

When you are the star of the show, you do not want your trial technology failure taking center stage. Rely on experts, practice, anticipate failure and you will be positioning yourself for success - or, perhaps more importantly, positioning yourself to avoid failure.

Related articles about trial technology and trial technicians you may find helpful:

Free E-Book - Click to Download Guide to Engaging Trial Technicians

Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Presentation, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Trial Director, Humor, George Zimmerman

The Top 10 A2L Consulting Litigation E-Books

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

top 10 a2l consulting litigation ebooksby Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
A2L Consulting

At A2L Consulting, we not only try to serve our clients and to produce great results at trial; we also want to become thought leaders in the trial consulting world and to educate lawyers, experts, and others on the exciting developments that are going on, both in research on juries, persuasion and other topics, and in the actual use of trial techniques.

All of our ebooks are free to anyone. You need not be a client of A2L. In the past two years, more than 10,000 free ebooks have been downloaded from A2L Consulting's site. 

We release a new book focused on a particular area of the legal industry just about every month.  Our first ebook, back in 2011, was not even 10 pages long.  Some of our recent books have been more than 150 pages long.

Most of our ebooks feature a curated list of articles culled from our hundreds of published blog posts and other articles on litigation topics plus a few extras. All have been released completely free in the spirit that we can elevate the quality of work being done in the litigation consulting industry.

For example, the Complex Civil Litigation Trial Guide, our most popular download so far, is 174 pages and is designed for the trial lawyer preparing for a complex case. But the insights in it can help almost anyone who wants to learn more about trial strategy and tactics.

The topics in that ebook include: Seven Ways to Draft a Better Opening Statement, How to Embrace a Two-Track Strategy and Win the War, Six Reasons the Opening Statement is the Most Important Part of a Case, How Timelines Can Persuade Judges and Juries, and Ten Videos to Help Litigators Become Better at Storytelling.

This ebook, like many of our other offerings, starts with the premise that the most important thing that a litigation consultant can do to help a trial team is to focus on the story that that trial team wants to develop. A litigation consultant brings not only the common sense that a fresh pair of eyes offers but also the experience of having seen, in hundreds of trials, what works and what does not work.

So one of the reasons this ebook has succeeded so well is that it can help any trial team develop a case and win at trial. It shows how to master the complexities of your case, yet still remain able to explain them to a judge or jury in a straightforward manner.

It also shows how to pick a trial graphics consultant to support your work, what to do when your trial team goes bad as a result of the anxiety that understandably can accompany any piece of complex litigation, and how trial graphics can explain even the most complicated scientific and engineering concepts to a jury. 

Here are our top 10 litigation ebooks listed in descending order by download count. 

  1. describe the imageComplex Civil Litigation Trial Guide (1st & 2nd Editions) - 1,918 Downloads, released Feb 25, 2013
  2. patent litigation graphics presentation guide Patent Litigation Trial Presentation Toolkit (1st & 2nd editions) - 1,669 Downloads, released September 10, 2012
  3. litigation support ebook Litigation Support Toolkit (1st & 2nd editions) – 998 Downloads, released February 24, 2013
  4. describe the image Litigation Timeline Reference Book - 943 Downloads, released March 6, 2012
  5. describe the image Antitrust Litigator's Trial Prep & Trial Presentation Guide - 807 Downloads, released October 17, 2012
  6. describe the image Leadership Lessons for the Trial Team Leaders (1st & 2nd editions) – 676 Downloads, released TKTK
  7. storytelling for lawyers litigators litigation support courtroom narrative icon Storytelling for Litigators - 589 Downloads - Released March 11, 2013
  8. describe the image How to Find the Top Trial Technicians (1st & 2nd editions) 417 Downloads, released August 22, 2012
  9. describe the image Environmental Litigator's Trial Presentation Handbook (1st and 2nd Editions) 395 Downloads, released December 24, 2012
  10. describe the image Litigator-Jury Communications 3-Year Study Results 359 Downloads, released January 2, 2007

a2l consulting voted best demonstrative evidence jury consultants  

Tags: Energy Litigation, Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Patent Litigation, Environmental Litigation, Storytelling, Leadership, Trial Director, HubSpot Tips, Antitrust Litigation

12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout

Posted by Ken Lopez on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

trial technology consultants avoid failureby Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
A2L Consulting

If you saw the Super Bowl this past Sunday, you saw some interesting things.

1) The Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers.

2) Neither Beyonce nor Alicia Keys lip synched her performance.

3) The game was delayed 34 minutes because of a power failure.

That's right. The most watched event in human history was delayed because the lights in the stadium went out. How is this possible?

It's hard to calculate the cost of such a mistake, but since the average 30-second ad cost $4 million, you could make the case that this was at least a quarter billion dollar snafu.

How could this happen and what caused it? It's hard to say at this point, but it does seem inconceivable.

Well, inconceivable trial technology failures are precisely the kind of thing you need to plan for in the courtroom. At some point in everyone's career, something is bound to go wrong during trial, and you need to minimize the chance of something going wrong with your trial technology.

Download Free E-Book Leadership for Lawyers

Here are 12 possible problems that could lead you to fumble the ball during your trial presentations, and here are ways of preventing them.

1) Inadequate planning. If you are going to be at a trial site for some time, whether you are working at a firm office or out of a hotel, you must plan a month or more in advance. If you do not, you will stay in the wrong hotels, end up with the wrong equipment, eat bad food, and inject stress into an already stressful situation.

2) Too many points of contact. Assign a single trial technology coordinator for the entire trial team rather than allow multiple orders to be placed by multiple partners.

3) Slow Internet speed. If you are planning a war room, you’ll probably want to use a dedicated Internet connection rather than use a hotel's Internet. This takes time to set up.

4) Computer failure. It could be a hard drive, a screen, or something more serious. It's very rare, but you have to have a backup. You have to have at least one level of complete redundancy for everything that you will use in the courtroom, and a plan for replacement of war room technology at any time 24/7.

5) Dim projectors. Generally speaking, most courts will not have adequate projectors. At a minimum, you'll need 3000 lumens, but that is usually not enough. Instead, rent a 5000+ lumens projector and you will not have to dim the lights at all to see the image.

6) Inadequate backup of your trial database. You should bring backup copies of all trial software that you rely on and have a complete copy of your entire trial exhibit database.

7) The unexpectedly quirky judge. Some judges will not allow you to bring in technology without a motion. Some will not allow the use of graphics or technology at all. Know your judge.

8) Trying to admit the inadmissible. Play the wrong deposition clip and you could easily cause a mistrial.

9) No courtroom survey. Some courtrooms are long and narrow with juries just feet from the opposite wall. Plan with that in mind. We keep a database of courtrooms we visit often.

10) Software failures. Failing software is much more likely than failing hardware. You must have backups onsite for even basic software.

11) Not using a courtroom trial technician. Going to trial without a trial technician is a bit like doing your own surgery. It can be done, but why would you do it? The trial technician is there to make you look good.

12)  The unprepared presenter. This is the most common source of technology failure at trial. If you have not practiced and worked out an unspoken language with your trial technician and tested your technology thoroughly, you are asking for something to go wrong.

Related trial technology articles and resources:

Best of the National Law Journal 2013 - Vote A2L Consulting!

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Technology, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Trial Director

Why Trial Technology Makes Me Merry

Posted by Theresa Villanueva on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 @ 06:00 AM


trial technology la chicago dc virginia nycby Theresa D. Villanueva
Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting 

The holiday season is upon us.  It is hard to believe that another year has gone by.  It has been a great year filled with lots of hard work, late nights and spectacular efforts on the part of our trial consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology teams.

With all of the challenges of 2012 nearly behind me, I wanted to take a moment to stop, breathe, and “reward” myself with what I consider to be one of the best things about this time of year – the Christmas Special.

When I was a kid, this time of year was not just about the holidays, but about all of the events that led up to it.  In an almost Norman Rockwellian tone, we looked forward to holiday parties, caroling, and the ultimate of ultimate events during this time of year – the Christmas special.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty the Snowman. It was an embarrassment of riches.

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Today even still modern day classics like Elf, A Christmas Story, Home Alone, The Polar Express, and so forth are filling our screens with holiday cheer.

But, as time goes on and we grow up, other things become more “important” and the time set aside for your beloved holiday movie slips by each year replaced with work, holiday shopping and, well, more work.

This year, I decided to make a concerted effort to “stop,” enjoy the season, and maybe recapture some of that excitement by making time to watch some of these holiday specials.

As I have watched these holiday movies over the last couple weeks, it got me thinking about the change in technology behind creating these precious pieces of history, and how these developments in technology affect my everyday life.   

When I was a kid, most of these Christmas Classics were done either in Claymation or cartoon animation. While I love both, the one that stands out as having advanced the most is Claymation.

For example, take the use of Claymation in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, 1964:


and compare it with the advances in Claymation in The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993:


Then, compare it with the 3D animation used in a more recent movie such as this scene from The Polar Express, 2004:


From a quality standpoint there is no comparison.   Can you imagine a trial where you watch a “Rudolph” style Claymation rendition of your patent technology or accident recreation instead of a computer-animated 3-D model?  Would this form of "trial technology" even appeal to the modern-day juror? 

Even the way we watch video or interact with technology has changed – gone are the days of black and white movies like Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life. Even these classics have been colorized to appeal to younger generations and transitioned from VHS, to Beta, to DVD to BluRay.

As I watched Miracle on 34th Street this year, I couldn’t help but wonder: If Mr. Bailey had to prove Kris Kringle was Santa Claus today in court, would he use a litigation graphics presentation and trial technology?  Personally, I vote yes.

For those who aren’t familiar, in the movie Miracle on 34th Street, (1947) Mr. Bailey, an up and coming New York attorney, is faced with the challenge of proving his friend, Kris, is in fact Santa Claus.  I am probably one of very few people who would even think this way, I note that Mr. Bailey used a form of demonstrative evidence to prove this fact.  First he reads directly from a federal statute defining the Post Office and establishing it as an official federal entity.  He then introduces letters to Santa that have been delivered to Kris Kringle at the courthouse as proof that his friend Kris is Santa Claus.


If Mr. Bailey were faced with this challenge today, I can’t help believing that perhaps instead of reading the definition from a law book, he would have shown the document through TrialDirector and called out and highlighted the specific language he wanted to emphasize.  Instead of “dumping” all the physical letters on the judge’s bench, it is more likely he would have litigation graphics depicting the number of letters written each year to Santa Claus, and the number of letters being delivered by the post office to the courthouse for Mr. Kringle.  And, who knows, he may have run the whole trial technology presentation from his iPad!

What started as an attempt to “disconnect” and enjoy the holidays has turned into a reflection on how technological advances shape not only my everyday life, but also the medium with which we attempt to reach our audience through trial graphics and trial technology.

The movie and television industry set the standard in terms of what potential jurors and even judges expect to see in the courtroom.  It is up to us to stay on top of these trends – even while enjoying a little holiday cheer.

Happy Holidays, and a very Happy New Year!

Free E-Book - Click to Download Guide to Engaging Trial Technicians  

Other trial technology resources on A2L Consulting's site:

Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Litigation Technology, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Animation, Trial Director

9 Trial Graphics and Trial Technology Budget-Friendly Tips

Posted by Theresa Villanueva on Tue, Sep 4, 2012 @ 08:15 AM

trial graphics pricing trial technology tight budgetby Theresa D. Villanueva, Esq.
Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L Consulting 

It is undisputed that trial graphics, trial technology and working with trial consultants & litigation graphics specialists give the modern litigator an edge when walking into the courtroom. This is true for many reasons. First, today’s juror expects some type of interactive presentation, whether it is a legal animation or demonstrative exhibits.  Second, trial consultants can step into the case with a fresh set of eye’s and perspective, and can provide valuable insights into the key themes that the team has identified and even sometimes pointing out themes or ideas the team has not thought of.

In today’s economic climate litigation support consulting companies have seen a shift towards a more economical approach towards litigation. Law firms and their clients (from large firms to solo practitioners) are looking to keep trial costs under control. With many different options and approaches to trial presentation graphics and trial technology available today, lawyers and their client’s can still head to trial armed with these essential tools.

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Let’s take a look at 9 ways you can use trial presentation graphics and trial technology while managing costs.

1. Focus on Key Trial Themes and a Simple Narrative

One way to keep trial graphics costs low is to choose a small number of important themes that you want to emphasize and that you want the jury to pay particular attention to.  By focusing on these key themes, you can limit the number of trial graphics to be created. Utilized effectively you can make a significant impact with even just one or two demonstrative exhibits.

The key here is to utilize your Trial Consultant to narrow the scope of what trial graphics will be created.  This will eliminate the creation of unnecessary graphics and streamline the development process. 

See Using a Two-Track Trial Strategy (trial presentation + a solid appeal record) to Win


2.  Use Printed Trial Boards and Blow-ups

Using boards in lieu of electronic presentations is a great way to save on costs, and it is still by all standards a highly effective presentation method. With the introduction of PowerPoint 2003, trial graphics became more advanced and began to move in the direction of electronic presentations. However, over the last couple years, the pendulum has swung back in the direction of using trial boards. Today, it is not uncommon to see a mix of boards and electronic presentation. Boards are a great way to use trial presentation graphics on a lower budget.  Another bonus of using boards is the savvy litigator can sometimes find a way to leave the board up throughout trial keeping their message consistently in front of the Judge or Jury.

See Printed Trial Boards Making a Comeback


3. Receive Training on Presentation Software (e.g. TrialDirector, Sanction or an iPad app)

Having a trial technician on-site is always favored, but the reality is that it is not always feasible from a budgetary standpoint.  One of the great things about trial presentation software is it is user friendly.  For a shorter or smaller engagement the presenter or another team member can receive training from an experienced Trial Technician to learn the basics.

Certain situations in which this might be a budget friendly alternative include: shorter trials, smaller document databases, trial databases that contain no deposition video or databases that will not require a lot of last minute changes or video editing.

See [Free E-Book] Finding the Best Trial Technician for Your Case


4.  Limit Your Trial Database to Key Documents

Similar to developing key demonstrative exhibits, we can build a database of the key documents you plan to use -  whether it is for cross, a particular witness or documents that are crucial to your case.  Sometimes using the Elmo just doesn’t have the same impact as having the flexibility and technological advantage of using presentation software such as Trial Director or Sanction. 

See How Indata's TrialDirector Makes Litigators Look Like Stars


5.  Have Your Deposition Video Edited and Burned to a DVD

If video is all you need, and editing clips can be done in advance, playing them on a DVD in court is a great budget saver.  In a recent case, I had a client that was on a very tight budget but still needed to play some video deposition clips at trial. They really wanted to have a Trial Technician or use Trial Director but cost was a major concern.  We discussed several different options including the option to edit the clips in trial director and export the clips onto a DVD they could play through their own computer at trial.  This was a great solution all around.  We still had the flexibility of editing in Trial Director, and the client ended up with a budget friendly way to show their video.

See Using Video Depositions in the Best Way at Trial


6.  Streamline Your Trial Presentation

When trial presentation graphics are needed but budget is limited, you may be faced with the question of where do I need trial graphics the most?  Is there an expert witness with a difficult concept to explain? Do you need litigation graphics to counter the opposing expert’s testimony?  Perhaps you feel that opening or closing statement is where you need to make the biggest impression with the judge or jury.  If you know there is one area that is the core of your case, focusing a set of demonstrative exhibits here not only can not only save on cost it can also add value to your case.

See [Free eBook] The BIG Litigation Interactive E-Book


7.  Create Your Own PowerPoint and Use Litigation Graphics Consultants to “Polish” the Work

Just as your hairdresser would not recommend cutting your own hair, generally, we do not encourage our clients to create their own PowerPoint presentations. There is just too much at risk and things can quickly go awry. However, if cost is a major concern, creating your own PowerPoint and asking for help can be an economical option. Once you layout out the basics of your presentation one of our consultants will work with you to enhance the presentation. From something as simple to creating a new template, formatting each slide for uniformity, or even adding some animation sequences. These, among other tricks can add a solid finish and give your slides the polished look they need.

See [Free eBook] The Trial Team's Guide to Creating Great Timelines for the Courtroom


8. Have a Trial Tech on Certain Key Trial Days

In many instances it is essential to have a Trial Technician on-site with the team, but the team just does not have the budget for a trial tech to be on-site for the duration of the trial.  Perhaps there is one witness that will truly benefit from the interaction of using an electronic presentation, or maybe there is an opposing witness you know you can impeach with video clips from their deposition.  On these occasions having a trial technician there only for certain stages of the trial can be a huge cost savings for the budget conscious team, while still benefitting from a Trial Tech’s expertise.

See Free Guide to Finding and Engaging the Best Trial Technicians


9.  Keep Litigation Graphics Simple - No Courtroom Animation

One of the cost drivers in the creation of demonstrative exhibits can be the addition of animation – or making a piece of the graphic move.  Some animation such as  “building” in certain elements is very simple and does not necessarily drive cost up.  However, complex animation can be very time consuming, require more edits and can lead to higher costs.  One way to avoid this is to have Litigation graphics with little to no animation.  It is very easy to get caught up in the idea of using legal animations in presenting your case, but a non-animated trial graphic can have just as much of an impact on your audience.

See A2L's Complimentary Biggest and Best E-Book for Trial Attorneys

If cost is a concern, demonstrative exhibits and trial technology no longer have to be the first items to scratch off your list – you simply need to work with the right trial consulting firm who will find the best solution for your team and budget.

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Tags: Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Litigation Graphics, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, Trial Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Litigation Support, Trial Director

[New E-Book] How to Hire & Use Trial Technicians in the Courtroom

Posted by Ken Lopez on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 @ 08:30 AM

trial technicians in the courtroomAt A2L Consulting, we believe that the difference between a good result at trial and a great result can lie in the performance of the trial technician.

Sometimes called hot seaters, trial techs, trial consultants or onsite courtroom technology specialists, these courtroom experts operate at center stage in the courtroom. Although they are indispensable to the presentation of a case, the best trial technicians are essentially invisible. They do their work so quietly and effectively that no one notices them.

The role of the trial technician is to gather and organize everything that might be used at trial -- trial exhibits, demonstrative exhibits, courtroom animations, video depositions, and everything else – and to be ready to show everything on a moment's notice.

Because trial technicians are so important, it is critical to hire the right technician for your case. With rates averaging around $200/hour, you need to get this right.

We have prepared a 35-page e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Engaging a Hot-Seat Operator,” that will help trial teams from firms large and small find the right trial technician for their case.

The book features such important subjects as “20 Things You Must Know Before Engaging Your Next Trial Technician, Trial Consultant or Hot Seat Operator,” “The iPad Friendly Courtroom - The View of a Seasoned Trial Technician,” and “Five Tips for Using TrialDirector and Trial Technicians Effectively.”

These articles are designed to help understand what trial technicians do, what separates the good from the great, and how to pick the right one.

After all, outstanding trial technicians must be true Renaissance technology people.  Not only must they be able to authoritatively run the latest versions of trial presentation software like Sanction or Trial Director; they must be able to sort out complex issues with PowerPoint, diagnose hard drive problems, mass-rename files, handle unheard-of image formats and much more. Experience makes the difference.

Trial technicians add a huge amount of value to a trial team. A litigator, instead of focusing on the availability of documents and evidence, the proper functioning of courtroom and war-room technology, and the inevitable technological hiccups, can now focus on careful strategic trial preparation of arguments, experts and witnesses.  The right technician, deployed in the right way, can dramatically increase a litigation team’s chance for success.

The technician will stay up late with you, will work under extreme pressure, will be required to perform last-minute work, will have to flawlessly solve technical issues, and, if they are great, will learn to anticipate your needs in the courtroom.

Hire the right trial technician and your trial will feel like a well-choreographed play.  Hire the wrong one, and you might spend a great deal of the trial feeling anxious that something will go wrong. Our book will help you figure out the difference.

Free E-Book - Click to Download Guide to Engaging Trial Technicians


Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Trial Technology, Trial Director

5 Trial Director Techniques for Seamless Trial Presentations

Posted by Ken Lopez on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 @ 08:08 AM

trial director trial technicianby Theresa Villanueva, Esq.
Director, Litigation Consulting
A2L 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). 

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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.

Download: 20 Questions You MUST Answer Before Engaging a Trial Technician

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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Tags: Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Courtroom Presentations, Litigation Consulting, Litigation Technology, Trial Technology, Trial Director

CLE Instruction from A2L's Litigation Consultants

Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Aug 3, 2012 @ 11:40 AM

cle a2l litigation consultants webinarForty-five states may have mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) requirements for attorneys – but all litigators and litigation support staff, wherever they are located, have a duty to stay informed and maintain their skills. Whether you are a first chair litigator or a litigation paralegal, given the pace of change in trial technology and trial strategy, it can be a challenge just to keep up with the latest trends.

One of the benefits that we enjoy as litigation consultants is that we are in trial more or less every day of the year. In contrast, even a major litigation law firm will find itself in trial perhaps a dozen times a year, and that is across the entire firm. These days, an attorney can make partner at a litigation law firm without ever participating in a jury trial.

Given the amount of trial experience that we have and our exposure to a variety of litigators, corporate counsel and litigation support staff, our litigation consultants are among the first to learn new styles and new techniques in the courtroom.

With this in mind, A2L Consulting has offered free CLE courses both live and in person over the last 17 years. Our litigation consultants take great pleasure in the work they do, and they are happy to teach others what works and what doesn’t work in today’s courtroom.

We have state bar accredited CLE programs already available in a number of states.  If one does not exist for your state, we are normally able to obtain approval in a short amount of time. 

We are happy to provide these CLE seminars free of charge and will teach them either in person, online or via a combination of the two techniques.  The topics of our programs include:

If there is a need to cover another topic, whether graphics or trial technology related or not, please let us know.

We have presented our CLE programs at top law firms throughout the country. Over the last several years, these have included such firms as Williams & Connolly; Greenberg Traurig;  Williams Mullen; Dickstein Shapiro; Wilmer Hale; McGuire Woods; Arent Fox; Holland & Knight; Becker Poliakoff; White & Case; Seyfarth Shaw; Baker Botts; Finnegan Henderson; Foley & Lardner; Bean, Kinney & Korman; Stein Sperling; and Middleton Reutlinger.

We have also presented programs for the U.S. Department of Justice and for the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

Click Here to Learn More About Our FREE CLE Programs

Tags: e-Briefs, Trial Presentation, Litigation Consulting, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Technology, Articles, Opening, Trial Director, Timelines, CLE

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Ken Lopez founded A2L Consulting in 1995. The firm has since worked with litigators from all major law firms on more than 10,000 cases with over $2 trillion cumulatively at stake.  The A2L team is comprised of psychologists, jury consultants, trial consultants, litigation consultants, attorneys and information designers who provide jury consulting, litigation graphics and trial technology.  Ken Lopez can be reached at lopez@A2LC.com.


Tony Klapper joined A2L Consulting after accumulating 20 years of litigation experience while a partner at both Reed Smith and Kirkland & Ellis. Today, he is the Managing Director of Litigation Consulting and General Counsel for A2L Consulting. Tony has significant litigation experience in products liability, toxic tort, employment, financial services, government contract, insurance, and other commercial disputes.  In those matters, he has almost always been the point person for demonstrative evidence and narrative development on his trial teams. Tony can be reached at klapper@a2lc.com.

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Laurie R. Kuslansky, Ph.D., Managing Director, Trial & Jury Consulting, has conducted over 400 mock trials in more than 1,000 litigation engagements over the past 20 years. Dr. Kuslansky's goal is to provide the highest level of personalized client service possible whether one's need involves a mock trial, witness preparation, jury selection or a mock exercise not involving a jury. Dr. Kuslansky can be reached at kuslansky@A2LC.com.

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