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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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cutting Costs in Trial

Paper v. Technology
One obvious place to save money in litigation might appear to be cutting out all of the fancy technology, along with its associated equipment and support personnel. While one could make a simple argument in support of that move, looking a little deeper can show that exactly the opposite is likely to occur – the client may actually spend far more to go “old-school,” using nothing but binders full of exhibits.

Technology can pay for itself
If you've been through even one trial, you are well-aware that the hourly time clock spins no faster than when it supports an entire trial team working long hours, often traveling to the venue and setting up a remote war room. It has been estimated that compared to a hard-copy exhibit trial, using technology can cut trial time by as much as 30-50%, and can increase the volume of evidence admitted and displayed by a similar amount. A recent award of $1.03 million in costs was granted in a classic courtroom battle of paper vs. technology. In this case, Plaintiff’s counsel shared, “I think we would have been here a lot longer without the technology to pull things up.” Technology can pay for itself.

Costs may be recoverable
When you prevail, many of your trial prep and presentation expenses may be included in your recoverable costs. While the example referenced above may be leaning toward the high end just a bit, with the total of verdict plus interest in excess of $100 million, (about 1%), it doesn't appear quite so excessive. At the close of a successful case (Plaintiff or Defendant), we are often asked to help clarify what to include in a motion to recover costs for things like graphics, trial prep, and in-court trial presentation. One thing is undisputed – If you don’t ask for it, you (or your client, actually) will be footing the bill. While you might not be awarded 100% of these costs, the majority of outside expenses are generally covered.

Malpractice claims can be costly
In the matter referenced above, Defendant’s counsel states, “Jurors can make decisions without the benefit of graphics and without trial technicians putting graphics on a screen.” While that statement may be true without any further qualification, one must also consider whether jurors might make better decisions when aided with the benefit of demonstratives and the ability to see the key text of each exhibit. One reader comment offers a final bit of food for thought: “Very good article, raises some interesting points about what one needs to do for trial, could open up the flood gates of malpractice for those that don't. Could make for interesting strategy discussions.”

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