Ted Brooks is an experienced Trial Presentation Consultant with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His company (Litigation-Tech LLC) has been recognized with many awards, including Best Courtroom Presentation Providers.
COURT TECHNOLOGY AND TRIAL PRESENTATION
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.
All materials © Ted Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.
Friday, December 22, 2017
Friday, December 15, 2017
We work on both sides of the table, and although our primary market is the California courts, we do cover other areas now and then, including a recent $200M arbitration in New York City. Coincidentally, we recently won awards in New York Law Journal for Best Trial Consultant, and Best "Hot Seat" Trial Technicians!
We have enjoyed our share of successes in the "W" column for both plaintiff and defense, including a recent Defense verdict in Los Angeles, and an SF Bay Area case in which an elevator was repaired with a zip tie, resulting in a $5.6M verdict. Plaintiff was represented by Andy Schwartz and Stan Casper, http://www.cmslaw.com/
Wrapping up the year, here are a few of our latest Honors & Awards
Wrapping up the year, here are a few of our latest Honors & Awards
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Pick any two: Price, Quality, Service
Although it would be difficult to nail down every litigation matter within the boundaries of the Project Management Triangle (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management_triangle), there are certainly some grains of truth to be found.
1. Price – The lowest bid wins!
Unless you work for a government agency and are forced to award a contract to the lowest bidder regardless of qualifications and experience, this might not always be the best option. That’s not to imply you shouldn’t be cost-conscious, but perhaps there is more to the game than just who’s the cheapest you can find? If you’re just looking for cheap above all else, perhaps one could safely assume that counsel and client are cheap, as well. If that’s the case, then so be it – it shouldn’t be too difficult to find someone who claims they can support your trial at a fraction of the cost of local “market rates.” There are usually good reasons for varying cost levels, and if it seems to be too good to be true, don’t forget there are other creative ways to lower costs, including cost-sharing between parties – this is something we’ve been seeing quite a bit recently.
2. Quality – Get it right the first time!
There’s not much you can knock with those who simply demand the best, although this can quickly bring excessive costs into focus. Another potential caveat to this approach is that the person selling the services may not be the person assigned to your case – in fact, they may not even know each other. This can happen with larger or national firms claiming to cover trials “everywhere.” It is important to know who will actually be working together with you in trial. Nothing beats solid qualifications and actual trial experience, and that rolls all the way down to the “hot seat.”
3. Service – I need it ASAP!
In many cases, the luxury of time has been removed from the equation before a provider is selected. This is often the result of delays in securing trial prep and trial presentation providers due to settlement conferences and mediations. A trial date can quickly jump into position after a holiday or other delays in the case. I’m not making this stuff up – I’ve seen it twice in the last two weeks. It’s really not the best strategy to wait until the last minute when there are no options left on the table for settlement. You may find yourself scrambling to find anyone available on such short notice. That’s probably something no client wants to hear.
Conclusion – Finding the perfect fit.
Ideally, you will find someone who can offer you value. A provider offering value will be setting up a well-balanced triangle for you – one at a reasonable and fair price, with decent qualifications and experience, and who is up to the task of getting everything ready to go in a timely manner. Asking others for referrals and running web searches can help you get started. Be as specific as possible, narrowing your search to the services needed and the location. If you need a Trial Presentation provider in Los Angeles, that’s what you should search for.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
|Trial or Settle? Trick or Treat?|
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of congratulating a client on settling their matter prior to trial. Many times. Perhaps too many times. While I do have a vested interest in the case going to trial, I can certainly understand any reluctance on the part of a litigant or counsel, given the incredibly high level of stress and risk involved. What are a few of the factors to be considered?
1. How have settlement negotiations been going? Are the numbers getting closer together, or does one side expect the other to give it all up? Settlement is not about winning or losing – it is more about compromise, which is sort of like winning AND losing at the same time.
2. What is the reputation of opposing counsel? Some attorneys and firms have a strong reputation for winning nearly every case they try. Does that really matter? Perhaps in a close case, where courtroom experience can have a significant effect, but don’t be convinced that past performance guarantees a verdict.
3. What about the evidence? Now there’s an interesting question, especially since that is exactly what the jury is going to be asked to consider and deliberate upon. Not opinions, not reputations of counsel, but the evidence. If you’ve got the evidence, you’ve got the verdict – provided, of course, you’re able to present it effectively.
|Another recent Litigation-Tech award!|
4. Where are the leaks in your boat? I’ve listened to many attorneys and clients as they’ve convincingly explained their story. If there were only one story to be told, it would be a simple formality to get it done in trial. However, the next question I always ask is, “Where are the problems with our case?” I always ask for trial briefs – not only ours, but perhaps even more importantly, those from the other perspective. Trying to “believe” both sides is the key to forming an objective opinion. That is what a jury is expected to do.
5. Trial is not about settling. By this, I mean that once a decision has been made to go forward with trial, there is no room for compromise with respect to representation of your client. I am not saying that a settlement cannot be reached during, or even after trial, but that there are no good excuses for approaching it with anything less than maximal effort. This may mean long days, spending lots of money, and simply outworking the other side. Litigation is definitely not a 9-5 job.
These are just a few of the many things that should be considered in every matter preparing for trial. If you’ve been building up the case for some time, don’t forget to get other perspectives and feedback from those unfamiliar with the details.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Friday, June 30, 2017
Who is the best TRIAL TECHNOLOGY "HOT SEAT" PROVIDER?
Although for the majority of trials we support we are hired by law firms, we are also frequently retained by insurance carriers, government agencies, and occasionally, directly by clients. Since starting Litigation-Tech in 2002 in the middle of the dot-com implosion, we've won a lot of cases, many long-term clients, and we've picked up a few awards along the way. With that, we are proud, honored, and humbled to share the news of our latest award, where readers of Corporate Counsel responded to the question, "Who is the best TRIAL TECHNOLOGY "HOT SEAT" PROVIDER?" by selecting Litigation-Tech.
We realize there are many excellent trial presentation providers available to firms, and we are grateful to have been chosen as one of the best. Our reputation is perhaps our greatest asset, and with that, we thank you.
Friday, April 14, 2017
LitigationWorld: Micro-Symposium on Valuable Lessons From Memorable Trials
All trials have moments of drama from which litigators learn valuable lessons. This issue of LitigationWorld features a micro-symposium with six such lessons. These memorable trial events and resulting tips from Ted Brooks, Karen Koehler, Benjamin G. Shatz, Neil J. Squillante, Thomas H. Vidal, and Edward Zohn encompass courtroom decorum, direct testimony, cross examination, demonstrative evidence, impeachment, and trial strategy. (This was first published on Technolawyer's LitigationWorld newsletter. I have shared my contribution below, and would be happy to forward a copy of the entire newsletter email upon request. Email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ted Brooks, Impeachment Requires Diving Into the Details
There's nothing as game-changing in trial as a rock-solid impeachment of a key witness. In the Robert Blake murder trial, the media had already tried, convicted, and sentenced Mr. Blake. Everyone was convinced he would spend the rest of his life in jail. Well, everyone except for his attorney — M. Gerald Schwartzbach (and me, of course).
During trial prep, we had carefully inspected and reviewed all the photographic evidence, and we discovered many interesting things which would later be used in trial. It seems that nobody else spent the time and effort we had to see what was really in there.
So we have a lead detective on the witness stand, questioning him about the possibility of mishandling the evidence. Gerry (Schwartzbach) asks him if he was there at the dumpster, which was later emptied to find the murder weapon.
Our detective denied being there at or even near the dumpster, as we displayed the photo to the jury. Once Gerry got him committed and locked in to his story, using TrialDirector, we zoomed in on a tiny little area of the photo, showing him actually on the dumpster. The detective then stated, "Oh yeah, I guess I was there."
[Publisher's Note: For a detailed account of the Robert Blake trial, see Ted Brooks, Inside Robert Blake's High-Tech Defense, LitigationWorld (Apr 26. 2005)]
Ted Brooks is an award-winning Trial Presentation Consultant and blogger at Court Technology and Trial Presentation.
Jurors and Technology in Trial: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits
|Acquittal -- PRICELESS|
Click here for a related article with additional photos showing this impeachment during the Robert Blake murder trial.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
One Exhibit You NEVER Want to See
|(click to zoom in)|
Can you recall watching some case where an exhibit like this might be appropriate? This is one trial exhibit you never want to see – at least as the Defendant in your own trial. I can tell you that I’ve seen plenty of cases where a client might have had a decent chance of prevailing, had they decided to try filing something like this.
With Florida recently joining, over half of the States have now adopted the revised version of Rule 1.1 in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The original Rule 1.1 states: “A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” Fair enough.
The bonus comes in the “new” added language, which includes:
“To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”
The exhibit shown here is not part of an actual Complaint. It was created specifically for this article. However, the risk is very real, given the significant advances and advantages of technology, coupled with the relatively slow adoption of state-of-the-art legal technology. That risk applies to its use in “competent representation.” Whether it would be something like dismissing the capabilities of e-Discovery, failure to search social media accounts, or suffering a devastating loss in trial because you didn’t have enough time to present your entire case (without using technology), this is not where any attorney wants to be – in the Defendant’s chair.
Note that Rule 1.1 doesn’t state that the attorney must know everything, but it does imply that counsel should at least know about everything. You don’t have to be an expert, but you may need to call one. There are readily-available experts in nearly every facet of legal technology.
Some language included in many complaints filed states the following at some point: “…knew, or should have known.” It can be pretty hard to get around that – especially when it is so clearly stated by the ABA.
Now, if you’re still looking for some good excuses, you might want to check out ten of the best I could come up with: “Why You Should NOT Use Technology in Your Trial.” Otherwise, please don’t be THAT attorney!
Friday, February 10, 2017
The Vanishing Civil Jury Trial - In case you’re the only one who hasn’t noticed, there seems to be a trend toward keeping litigation matters away from the eyes of a jury. This means fewer trials in the courts, followed by fewer attorneys with trial experience. Attorney Gary Gwilliam wrote about this in Plaintiff Magazine a few years ago.
|The "Hot Seat"|
Although many cases are settling or going to arbitration, there are times when an agreement simply cannot be reached. It’s not always a clear argument of right and wrong. If it were, there would be no need to litigate. If you have a good case, the fear of going to trial is not a good reason to surrender.
In the ongoing Oracle v. Google matter, U.S. District Judge William Alsup recently addressed the need for “the next generation of practitioners” to gain courtroom experience, stating, “The court will particularly welcome any lawyer with four or fewer years of experience to argue the upcoming motions.” See: https://www.law360.com/articles/828058/google-oracle-should-let-young-attys-argue-judge-says
Experience is Everything - Even with fewer trials to go around, Trial Presentation Consultants and Trial Techs still find themselves in trial frequently – as it is their core business. Like other professions faced with a shrinking market, this has caused a refinement. While it might appear to be an attractive and lucrative business, it is often difficult for the newcomer to get actual trial experience. As with a good Trial Attorney, experience is everything. This results in the best rising to the top, and getting the most work.
In-house or Outsource - Although you might be comfortable handling your own technology or having your paralegal take care of it in some cases, there are those clients with trials that don’t justify using anyone without many years of courtroom technology experience. Since it becomes a full-time job, many in-house litigation support teams bring in help for complex and time-consuming matters.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen the whole in-house vs. outsource idea come full circle. Once a luxury reserved for only the largest firms, trial technology is now readily available to all. Although there are options, only those firms with an unusually high amount of trial work should need to hire full-time trial-support employees.
Costs and Vetting - If you do decide to go outside the walls of your firm, a typical trial day can run as much as $1500-$2000 or more, depending on the venue and who you’re working with. This might come to around $10k per trial week. For a rough idea on a two-week trial, adding some time for trial prep, you may be near $25k or so.
That is a lot of money, and I would suggest performing a bit of due diligence, beyond just clicking the first paid ad link you find on Google. I’ve written a few articles intended to help in your vetting process:
The Greatest Asset - One of the most important benefits of working together with someone who (especially in these days of fewer trials) spends a great deal of time in the courtroom can be their level of familiarity and confidence in the whole process. I have heard many times that the “calm” nature of a good Trial Presentation Consultant was a greatly appreciated benefit. Please don’t hesitate to see how your provider measures up, or ask us for an estimate on your trial.
Los Angeles, San Francisco
2016 Best Courtroom Presentation Providers Award
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
We’ve shared a few “Greatest Hits” lists over the years, and so here’s the next installment. Although we get a great deal of traffic from Google and other web searches, we also have our “Top 10 This Week” list, a blog-specific Search feature, and of course, our Complete Archive Directory. All of these may be found to the right and below this article.
Rather than just another list of favorites, this is a topical directory of a few articles in each category, featuring several of the best articles on this blog. If you have a topic of interest, or are looking for something in particular, a search will likely bring several relevant results. Expanding the Archive tree may be a little less efficient for searching, but there you can see articles listed in the order they were originally published. Although we've limited each topic to 3 entries, there are a number of additional related articles in each category on the blog.
2017 GREATEST HITS
Although cost is not the same as quality, it is something that everyone should be concerned about. Here are a few ideas on how to save a few bucks for your clients.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Claiming ignorance of technology these days just won't cut it, and many clients know this.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT TRIAL TECH:
There are a number of great trial support providers these days, but there are also a few you might want to avoid. Here are a few things to look for.
TRIAL TECH SERIES:
This selection is intended for those in the trenches, or interested in how this all works. If you're inclined to be in the "hot seat," this series may help.
IPAD IN TRIAL:
If you're a trial attorney or trial tech, you've probably seen an iPad in the courtroom presenting evidence. Although my personal position remains that a laptop is better for larger matters, an iPad can certainly handle the job in smaller cases. The article on the bottom was the first to cover TrialPad, which remains the most popular app for trial presentation.
PRO FILES SERIES:
Here are a few of the most popular interviews in this series. There are several others.
ALL-TIME MOST POPULAR:
These are the top 3 articles on the blog. Two of them are directories of LinkedIn groups for attorneys and legal professionals, and one is about a revolutionary wireless iPad keyboard.
I hope you've enjoyed this list, and save the link for future reference. Feel free to add your comments here, request additional info, suggest future article topics, etc.