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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Monday, July 20, 2009

Trial Presentation Certification

There has been a recent discussion on a couple of listservs (trialtechnology and legalvideoforum that I'm aware of, and possibly others) regarding Trial Presentation Certification. The problem that I see with that at this point is that it is being offered by the National Court Reporters Association - not exactly the best possible representation of the Trial Consulting profession. In any event, in case you've missed it, here's my reply:

Well, since I've been included amongst the accused here (thanks Robb), I guess I should toss in my two cents as well.
First, I have known Brian Clune for many years, and can confidently tell you that he knows trial presentation. I don't know exactly what his role is in all of this or what the course materials include, however. That's my disclaimer.
As for the idea of a certification, it's not all bad. However, unless it is accepted and/or mandated within the industry, it may have minimal value. I will add that while others may, I would not even consider hiring or referring a trial to anyone who simply had a certificate, had TrialDirector or other software training, and had some mentoring but little or no actual trial experience. I would strongly discourage any of my clients and contacts to hire anyone who's there to learn on their dime. It's all about experience. How do you get it? Possibly by getting hired as a trainee by a large enough company that's willing to train, a law firm, or expanding your current business offerings. Your current clients may or may not support your efforts.
I will also add that in addition to technology, the top Trial Technology Consultants are also well-versed in graphics, visual communication and the legal process itself. The more you bring to the table, the better.
There is a little more riding on your work as a Trial Consultant than whether the video looks and sounds good enough, or is MPEG1 or MPEG2. When you're in court, if you cannot get the right evidence up at the right time, you could be a good candidate not only to be fired, but if you did significant damage contributing to the outcome of the case, you could be sued.
My point is that if you are a court reporter or videographer who has realized there is some money to be made in trial presentation, simply having a certificate(s) isn't going to be enough to make a real difference - but it could be one step in the right direction.
Perhaps it may be an idea that if the NCRA is going to give the course and offer the certification, that it would be more of a court reporter or videographer's specialty certificate of the NCRA, as opposed to attempting to represent that this is a universally recognized certificate? Most trial consultants (that I know) are not members of NCRA. I hope that's some helpful info...

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