Who’s in your hot-seat? When is the last time you were in trial? Was that in the Federal Court, Superior Court, or an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider, such as JAMS or AAA? If you are preparing for trial now, do you have someone on your trial team who is familiar not only with the latest in trial presentation and technology, but with your actual trial venue? Similar to associating Local Counsel to assist in distant venues, this can literally be the key to a smooth and successful presentation – or a failure.
As mentioned in our last article, it won’t look good if you cannot hook up to the Court’s presentation system, or if you’re always the one delaying the trial because of some technical difficulties. “I’m just a poor old country lawyer who doesn’t get all of this technology stuff” might have been cute 20 years ago, but not now. Have you looked at the average age of your jury lately? Not to mention, it would be a disservice to your client.
In many cases, we recommend booking your “hot-seat” provider at least 6-8 weeks out from trial, as the “good ones” are very busy, and you could risk settling for plan B, or worse. Beginning trial prep at an even earlier stage can help you get everything ready and organized in a manner that can easily be incorporated into mock trials, mediation, and trial. Firms that handle large and complex cases often begin setting things up properly for trial from the outset.
You should consider working with a local provider who is familiar with the local courthouse, has local connections and resources, and can also save on travel costs. With requisite skills being equal, having actual local court experience can be extremely helpful. A New York trial presentation firm would be great for a New York trial, but a Los Angeles firm would be best in their local courts.
That’s not to say a good Trial Tech can’t do a good job anywhere in the country, however. If you brought them in early and have already been working together with them for some time, it probably makes sense to take them along with you. If not, you may want to find someone local, as in most areas these days, there are decent providers available. The decision of who is in your trial hot-seat will likely be affected by when you bring them into the case.
Here is a helpful checklist of Ten Questions to Ask Your “Hot Seat” Provider.