I was in Palm Springs this weekend, where along with the beautiful 90 degree weather, I enjoyed speaking at the California Medical Legal Committee Annual Meeting to a group of some of the Golden State’s top Medical Malpractice Defense Attorneys. We discussed how using technology can improve your trial practice, and I shared some ideas on how to get insurance carriers and clients to cover the cost of this valuable service. It is critical to educate them on how the use of technology in trial presentation can significantly reduce the length of the trial, improve jury comprehension and retention, and easily increase the volume of evidence presented.
It is far more efficient to show everyone an exhibit at the same time. Highlighting a word or sentence can then actually help you “argue” the document to an extent -- pointing out facts to the jury which can help them view your perspective of the case. It should also be explained that jurors learn just like the rest of us. When we have a visual image available, we understand new information better -- and retain it longer.
Another idea to help convince a client or reluctant carrier is to propose a cost-sharing plan with opposing counsel. Although a Trial Presentation Consultant cannot provide privileged work-product to both parties, you can share the in-court presentation of the exhibits in a neutral fashion. If opposing counsel is agreeable, they will also cover half the cost, making it a very reasonable option for all. Should they also wish to have someone helping organize and prepare exhibits, deposition designations or demonstratives (work-product), they will have to bring in another trial tech. Ethical walls must be respected at all times. I can say that in my experience, when an agreement to share costs is reached, carriers have been willing to cover their half of the expenses.
An informal survey (attendees raising their hands) indicated that nearly all of these trial veterans had used some form of technology for their own trial presentations such as an ELMO (document camera), most have seen fully-equipped courtrooms (with everything you need to simply plug in your laptop and present your evidence), about 25% or less had used actual trial presentation software, about 50% have an iPad, and only one (out of about 50 or 60) was running a Mac platform, with the remainder on a Windows/PC system. Insurance carriers and clients should be aware that if the courtroom is already set up for trial presentation technology, chances are the Court will expect parties to use it.
Note: I am available for a few CLE presentations each year, generally covering the topic of technology used in improving your trial practice. If your group is interested, feel free to shoot me an email (links are at the top of this page).