by Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
In these pages, we have discussed from time to time the role of the “hot seat operator” or “trial tech,” the person who is tasked at trial with ensuring that the visual presentations go off without a hitch, enabling the trial team to tell its story smoothly and effectively. The job requires almost supernatural calm under intense pressure, an understanding of the essence of a trial, superb computer skills, and the ability to improvise when needed. It’s one of those jobs that, if it is done perfectly, the tech’s presence is never noticed. People only notice the trial tech when something goes wrong.
But a great hot seat operator is more than merely a skillful coordinator of graphic and documentary exhibits. The best hot seat operators are in the courtroom nearly every day. They get to see, on an almost daily basis, the best and the worst of trial strategies and tactics. They are thus, if utilized properly, an invaluable resource for the trial lawyer. A great hot seat operator can sense whether a trial team’s presentation is winning over the jury or falling flat – and can give a suggestion for improving the situation. She can sense whether a trial is dragging on and boring the jurors. She can evaluate the opposing side’s presentation and help an attorney look for weaknesses there. In the person of a great hot seat operator, you have a real expert on your side. Don’t waste that advantage.
Secondly, a great hot seat operator keeps track of the little things. How well are the exhibits organized? Is everything in the right order? Is there some idiosyncrasy in the presentation that is annoying the judge? The trial lawyer has a great deal on his mind, and these details are just the sort of thing that he’d rather not need to think about. Enter the hot seat operator.
Thirdly, a great hot seat operator has a sense of calm that can and should spread to the other team members. There’s nothing that the hot seat operator hasn’t seen in her years in the courtroom. The hot seat operator can and should act as a calming influence in an environment that can be highly stressful. As we have written, “When the marriage between trial attorney and courtroom hotseat operator is right, it is like watching a well-choreographed dance. Each partner anticipates the other person's next move and the audience focuses on the content.”
Other articles and free resources from A2L Consulting related to hot seat operators, trial technicians and trial technology generally.
- Request Availability or Pricing of a Trial Technician, Trial Consultant or Trial Presentation Hot-Seat Operator
- Watch a trial techncian work live in an international arbitration
- A Litigator's Guide: How To Find and Use Trial Technicians and Trial Technology — A Must-Have Complimentary 83-page Guidebook for Trial Lawyers
- What Does Using a Trial Technician or Hot-Seater Cost?
- At Trial, Prepare for the Best But Expect the Worst
- From the Hot Seat: To Use or Not to Use Trial Presentation Software
- Considering a Trial Technician for Litigation?: What You Must Know
- 5 Trial Director Techniques for Seamless Trial Presentations
- 3 Styles of Document Call-outs Used at Trial
- 11 Traits of Great Courtroom Trial Technicians
- 12 Ways to Avoid a Trial Technology Superbowl-style Courtroom Blackout