The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers divorce trial, People v. Robert Blake murder trial, and a hundreds of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trial Technician Certification

This topic was posted on the Trial Technology LinkedIn Group by Chere Estrin, Editor-in-Chief at SUE Magazine for Women Litigators. Who really stands to gain with certification of trial technicians? Read on...

Where do trial technicians get trained? Where are the courses and texts for trial technicians? How do you know if someone has received adequate training of the core competencies?

-Chere Estrin, Editor-in-Chief at SUE Magazine for Women Litigators

While the original topic of this post seemed to be directed more toward the technical issues of trial presentation, ethics and proper protocols are certainly a key part of this profession. It is not enough to simply know how to put up documents with TrialDirector if one doesn’t know how to effectively communicate with counsel or know the rules of the court.

I would also add that there should be a distinction between a trial tech and a trial consultant, the latter having a great deal of actual experience in offering helpful insight regarding the trial itself – not just the technical issues. You won’t get this with a certificate.

As a result of having been employed by a major law firm, I learned things like ethical issues, the litigation process and many things that make up the big picture. While I would suggest that this may be one of the best possible routes one might take, it is not always an option. Law firms, like most other companies, aren’t in the business of training people who have no prior experience or qualifications.

That stated, I am a strong supporter of the efforts of OLP, NCRA and ALSP in their respective roles of developing course material and examinations for certificates and certification of trial technicians and other litigation support roles, such as electronic discovery.

While the NCRA (National Court Reporters Assn) has their roots in other areas, I will say that the people actually involved in the trial presentation section are indeed qualified, and are not court reporters. They can also provide a natural transition path for the many legal videographers they represent. I was very skeptical at first as well, but can say (first-hand, as a guest-instructor) that if they continue in the same direction, they will likely succeed. They do have a wealth of experience in education and certification processes.

The OLP (Organization of Legal Professionals; they have a LinkedIn Group) is a relatively new organization, which is focused primarily on education and certification in several areas. Having this single focus will certainly be beneficial, and the Principals and many members have a great deal of experience in education of legal professionals. They are also reaching out to many well-known and established professionals to increase their level of credibility.

The ALSP (Association of Litigation Support Professionals; also have a LinkedIn Group) is yet another organization with similar goals, although (at least to my understanding), they are a completely volunteer organization in these efforts, and as a result, have some limitations with respect to the level of time and resources they have available.

In my opinion, the ones who will benefit immediately from all of these efforts, regardless of the sponsoring organization are our clients, and ultimately as a result of a higher degree of professionalism, ourselves and our profession. Will one be better than the others? Only time will tell.

Ted Brooks, President
Litigation-Tech LLC
"Enhancing the Art of Communication" Member, American Society of Trial Consultants
Certified inData TrialDirector Trainer
415-291-9900  San Francisco

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