VIDEO: Robb Helt and I just reported on the effects of the ecomomic crisis on the legal professions. The video has been posted on MyLegal.com.
This is the script I prepared for my portion of the segment:
Hi, I’m Ted Brooks with Litigation-Tech LLC, and the author and publisher of the Court and Trial Technology Blog.
I’m here today for MyLegal.com, and I’m going to offer a brief update on how the trial presentation business has been affected by the economy over the past couple of years.
Even if you haven’t really been following current events, it comes as no surprise that the legal profession as a whole has taken a significant hit along with everyone else in the economic downturn. Law firms have slashed attorneys and staff, litigation support companies have closed their doors, and trial presentation firms have also suffered – even to the extent that the Merrill Corporation has dropped trial presentation from their list of services. Of course, that hasn’t been a bad thing for those of us who have benefited.
Looking back about 10 years ago when trial presentation was still pretty much in its infancy, once Brobeck dissolved and I started Litigation-Tech, we found ourselves primarily occupied with very large cases for very large firms. Through the years, we have been able to develop a good book of business with smaller firms, as the larger firms brought a lot of it in-house. “Innovate or die,” as the saying goes.
This brought us through a transition from working with large firms, to focusing more on the smaller firms that didn’t have the capabilities in-house, while still supporting larger firms when they saw the large, complex cases and needed some outside assistance.
Now, I’ve seen this all come full-circle. We’ve brought firms of all shapes and sizes into the high-tech trial arena, but have now seen smaller firms handing many of their cases in-house, having a paralegal or associate handle it. Large cases generally still warrant bringing in some help.
Large firms, now having cut back in staffing and in-house support costs are handling things in a similar fashion. We’re getting calls now from many large firms who no longer have the internal resources necessary to support large, complex trials.
Additionally, I have seen a big trend in getting trial presentation firms involved much earlier in the litigation life-cycle. What this means is that firms are displaying the “guns of war” during mediations and settlement conferences, in addition to arbitration and trial.
I see this as a true “win-win” for everyone – firms adapting to clients’ needs to avoid the added costs of a jury trial; Clients getting “no-holds-barred” representation early on, often resulting in a favorable settlement, and trial presentation people – both in-house and vendors keeping busy in a time where jury trials are getting rare. In those cases which do proceed to trial, opposing counsel is fully aware they are in for a fight.
Finally, it appears that many (although certainly not all) seem to “get it” that trial is not the place to train a paralegal or associate to bring up documents for the jury. If it warrants the best attorneys, it also warrants not risking compromises when it comes to trial presentation.
Thanks for listening. Now (and it’s a good problem to have), I have to get back to work, so I’ll turn it over to Robb Helt.
Ted Brooks, President
"Enhancing the Art of Communication"
415-291-9900 San Francisco
213-798-6608 Los Angeles