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.

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best Wishes for a Successful and Prosperous 2016!

I hope this past year and Holiday Season have been good for you, and that the New Year brings new and exciting opportunities. Of course, we each have a certain degree of control and personal responsibility -- I’ve never seen a door knock upon itself. Every one of us must do our part to search out new opportunities and take advantage of those that might work for us. What we choose to do when presented with those opportunities is up to us. We will pass by some, investigate others, and jump straight into the middle of a few. 

Along these lines, I would like to add that there are only a few opportunities remaining to attend the first-ever Trial Technology Seminar, this February in Dallas. Once it is booked up, that’s it. If you are interested in the use of technology in trial, graphics, database management, business development, marketing and other related topics, this may be one of those opportunities you should look into. You can view the flyer here:

Thank you for reading, and I truly hope you find this blog helpful. Happy New Year, and may 2016 be a great one for all of us!

Ted Brooks 
Litigation-Tech LLC 
Los Angeles, San Francisco
888-907-4434 Toll-free
2015 Best Courtroom Presentation Providers Award

Monday, December 28, 2015

Preparing for Trial – Local Courts


Many things are often taken for granted, especially when in familiar surroundings. With that in mind, here are a few general items to consider when preparing to go to trial in your "local" courthouse. Unless you're in trial more often than most, things may not go as expected. Forgetting even one of these could easily add a little extra panic to the recipe.

1. Scheduling – In busier venues such as Los Angeles or San Francisco, you may find that your “Trial Date” is actually when you will be assigned a Department, which can then put you in a “trailing” position for a few days or even weeks. This can make planning and scheduling a little tricky, but you should be prepared to adjust your calendar. This affects your entire trial team, including witnesses, vendors and support staff.

2. Courtroom visit – Even though you may be familiar with your local courthouse, unless you’ve been in trial recently (within a year or less) in the same exact courtroom, with the same Judge, Clerk, Bailiff and Reporter, you may be in for a surprise. You might find changes in court staff, equipment availability or preferences as to how and when you may set up. You should determine desired seating arrangements and explore options for Internet access. 

3. Exhibits – You should avoid making assumptions as to how many hard-copy exhibits sets you will drag into the courtroom, or where you will store them – especially in larger matters with lots of exhibit binders. It can be helpful for parties to agree upon a joint list for the bulk of the evidence, each adding their own exhibits as needed. Check the Local Rules, but also discuss options with opposing counsel and address the issue with the Court. It can save a lot of time, frustration and money. Most courts will not appreciate a lot of duplication.

4. War Room – How “local” is local? Just because your office is downtown near the courthouse does not necessarily make it a convenient place to work from during trial or after-hours. Where will you work during lunch or in the evenings, when time is limited? Will you have a printer and scanner in the courtroom? Although a local copy service can be very helpful, the more you can handle on-site, the better. This is especially true for small, quick jobs during the court day.

5. Commuting – If long commutes are a concern, it might make sense to get a hotel near the courthouse. Eliminating 2-3 hours or more of commute time daily can be a real benefit during trial. Your trial day is not over at 4:30 – you will often find yourself preparing for witnesses late into the night and early in the morning before trial resumes. 12-hour days or longer are not uncommon in trial. A printer and scanner can be placed in a guest-room as well, even if a separate war-room is not available.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pro Files: Jason Barnes

Jason Barnes
First, a quick reminder that there are still a few spots remaining to see Jason Barnes, along with Robb Helt and Ted Brooks at the Trial Presentation Seminar in Dallas. Check the link if you're interested.

Jason Barnes has been involved in trial technology nearly as long as technology has been involved in trial. In order to remain competitive, Jason shares that today's trial team needs more than just hot-seat jockeys. They also need access to competent communication consulting, information design, graphic production of all kinds, along with logistic and technical support. As always, feel free to add your thoughts and comments.

1.       Where do you currently work, and what is your primary role?

I co-founded Barnes & Roberts in 1998 after 8 years at a now defunct firm. I serve as the Practice Manager, which means I lead our team of 9 trial consultants. I also act as chief art director and mentor. It’s one of the best parts of my job, helping my team work through difficult visual problems to find solutions. 
2.       Share a little about your background, education and work experience prior to your current position.
I went to university to study computer science but dropped out after 3 years when I realized that, although I was capable enough, I had approximately zero interest in actually being a computer programmer. What I really wanted to do was be a commercial artist. So I spent 2 years in night school studying graphic art while delivering furniture on weekdays and tending bar on the weekends. After graduating, I was managing a restaurant/bar and doing freelance work when I got married and thought a full-time job would be a good idea. As luck had it, I landed a job with what was then Legal Arts in Dallas. I had a wonderful mentor in Pat Stewart, the owner and a pioneer in the field.  The rest is history. 
3.       Share a little about what you do when not working.
I’m pretty focused on becoming a better photographer, mostly landscape work. I try to take at least one long camping trip every year, generally by myself but also with my wife who tolerates my compulsion to get up predawn and head to the best sunrise spot, linger for hours waiting for the tide to go out, or drive down 10 miles of jeep trail just to see what there is to see. I post regularly at
Jason "on the trail"

4.       Tell us about one or two significant cases or experiences in your career.
Quantel v Adobe in 1997 would be the first on the list. It was my first digital trial. We worked with the folks at InData who had a brand new program called “TrialDirector.” As I recall, we had programmers on site who were fixing bugs as they were identified, we through breakers in the court house because our monitors were all giant CRT screens, and we had all video edits done in both DepoDirector and traditional non-linear systems (Media100) just in case. It didn’t always go well with the technology, but anyone with half a brain could see that those techniques would be the way of the future. So, a few months later, I opened my own firm to focus on the new techniques and technologies.

The second pivotal case we had was Texas Industries v Hyundai in 1999 - the case that spawned an industry in the Eastern District of Texas. TI wanted to assert some patents against rival chip maker, Hyundai but didn’t want to wait years to get to trial. They looked around and found the EDTX docket to be nearly empty. They filed. They went to trial. They won. Big. We were proud to work with the TI/Jones Day team on that trial (yes, we used TrialDirector to great effect). Since then, the EDTX has become the busiest patent infringement docket in the nation. Being in Dallas, and having a strong background in computer science, we were well positioned to ride that wave. Other cases have been bigger in terms of dollars or effort, but none have had more impact on my career. 
5.       Share about one or two disasters during your career, and how you managed to recover.
In one of our first trials in 1998, a little state court summary jury trial, we showed up and plugged in our system set up our projector and screen, and fired up Trial Director. We had the opening and witness all scripted out using only live documents. The hard drive crashed. There was no back-up! Yeah, I know, but it was literally our first case. What to do? I had an identical hard drive with me and a tool kit (pre-9/11 security) so I took a chance that it was the power supply and not the drive itself. Firewire drives of the time had notoriously finicky internal power supplies. I disassembled both drives and laid them out on the table, cut the wires on the bad power supply and spliced in the new one. With my attorney already standing up and addressing the jury, I plugged it in. It worked! He never knew until I told him afterwards. The memory of those parts stretched out and taped together in front of me on the desk will haunt my dreams forever. First rule: have a back up. Second rule: have another back up.
6.       What is the best piece of advice you could offer to someone considering stepping into your shoes?
I think the most important question to ask yourself is, “am I committed to this industry?” Being a trial consultant or hot-seat person is difficult and demanding. Long hours and clients with very high expectations, time on the road away from friends and family, the pressure of the courtroom combine for a very exciting but taxing job. If you don’t love it, if you’re not committed, you will flame out sooner than later. 
7.       If you had to do it all over, what would you do differently?
I would have spent more time, earlier in the development of the business, on training and mentoring. In the first five years, I was always running from case to case and didn’t spend enough time developing employees how to do what I was doing. Since nobody ever trained me, I didn’t have that experience and didn’t know how to do it for others. Now we have a formal training program and also many built-in opportunities for ongoing training. 
8.       Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
I would like to be retired (or mostly so) in 10 years. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine being 100% away from trial. I still love it and feel rewarded when I’m doing it. So, maybe I’ll take two long camping trips a year. There are a lot of places to see and photograph. 
9.       What would you consider the biggest change that has transpired during your career?
When I started, all demonstratives, with the exception of some early work in animation, were created by hand. My desk was a drafting table. I used Pantone and markers for color and added type with Letraset rub-on lettering. I used radiograph pens, french curves and triangles. The revolution in desktop publishing brought so many new tools: Illustrator, Photoshop, PowerPoint, Flash, 3D Animation, TrialDirector, as well as large-format printing and mounting. Now we are creating models with 3D printers and VR is likely on the (distant?) horizon. It is exciting to think where technology, as well as the neuro-psychology of teaching and decision-making, will take us in the future.
10.   What do you predict for the future for those in your profession?
I think we are in a period of maturing technologies: boards (still important), PowerPoint, TrialDirector/Sanction/OnCue and others. You see an incremental advancement in these tools but nothing very disruptive to the basic status quo. There are some areas where we are ready for a change, though. The move to all HD (1920x1080) switching, distribution and viewing is on the near horizon. The change will be painful though as hardware and software upgrades will be needed in courts across the country - some of which have only recently “upgraded” to SVGA capable systems.

As noted above, I see a lot of promise in 3D printing but widespread use of VR is still, I think, a long way off. I believe that the 3D capabilities in modern HDTVs could be put to good use right now by folks creating 3D models, for example, in construction defect cases. It is not quite “VR” but the idea of asking jurors to wear polarizing glasses is easier to imagine than having them don giant headsets.

On the business side of things, I see growing price pressure and commodification of hot-seat services. More and more law firms are likely to at least experiment with in-house presentation staff. For providers, we have to make the value proposition compelling. We have to offer more than hot-seat jockeys: communication consulting, information design, graphic production of all kinds, logistic and technical support must all be included. Of course, experience is a key. Many of us have more trial experience than our clients will ever have. Bring that experience to the team.

Contact Jason Barnes
Phone: 214-421-5900 

Don't forget - if you haven't already registered, there are a few spots left to see Jason Barnes, along with Robb Helt and Ted Brooks at the Trial Presentation Seminar in Dallas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pro Files: Bruce Balmer

If you've ever been involved in the technical aspects of legal videography, you've likely learned a trick or two from Bruce Balmer. He is a regular and frequent contributor on the Yahoo Legal Videography group, offering equipment and software recommendations, and tips on how to correctly record a deposition. Even if you're not concerned with how it gets done, Bruce is a very interesting guy. 

Bruce Balmer, CIRM, CLVS, CCVS
1.              Where do you currently work, and what is your primary role?
CompuScripts, Inc. and CompuScripts Captioning, Inc., two closely held companies specializing in court reporting, legal videography, and closed captioning services. I provide technical and IT support for both companies and lead the legal videography efforts.

2.       Share a little about your background, education and work experience prior to your current position.
I have a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina, along with several professional certifications related to manufacturing operations and legal videography.

My professional career began as a manufacturing specialist with Corning Glass Works (now Corning, Inc.), Whirlpool Corporation, and a European startup in South Carolina. I ultimately moved out of manufacturing and into distribution in the mid 1990’s. I was a part of a team developing a brick and mortar company’s entry into internet ordering in the early 2000’s, along with the installation of a number of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. I left that company to join my wife’s court reporting and captioning firms – she needed help, and I had a lot of exposure on how to streamline operations so we could expand our offerings without working ourselves to death.

3.       Share a little about what you do when not working. 
I’ve been a runner since 1978. I play golf (poorly), walk my rescue dogs, bike, and contemplate the universe, one day at a time. I spend a lot of time helping out other videographers on several of the legal video blogs on the web. I serve on the Media Team at a local church and on the NCRA CLVS Council.

4.       Tell us about one or two significant cases or experiences in your career. 
I had just started in the legal video business and was brought into a multi-deposition case requiring fast turnarounds. We were running MiniDV tape at the time, and I was having to encode the tape every night to meet delivery deadlines. Woke up every 85 minutes to flip tapes. Insanity, and sleeplessness, reigned. I went to a convention in LA and saw a software application that would digitize and QC video on the fly (Serious Magic’s DV Rack). My world perspective changed overnight. I was a computer junkie who was able to leverage that exposure and experience and apply it in (what was then) a unique way in my new profession.

5.       Share about one or two disasters during your career, and how you managed to recover.
My first camera purchase did not have the capability to do timestamping on digital ports, and I ultimately had to scrap that camera in order to achieve the streamlined workflow I envisioned for legal video. It ultimately forced me to become a prolific reader (and collector) of operator manuals used in the legal video industry. Nobody in the industry was doing what I was trying to do, and I had to depend on my own research to figure things out. I’ve since developed, maintained, and circulated numerous lists of equipment that are appropriate for the legal video industry to help the new folks from tripping up on an inappropriate purchase.

On a completely different note, our captioning company received some money in advance to do a large amount of work over an extended period of time. We didn’t allocate the money properly and ended using it up before the bulk of the work was completed. We cut spending to the bone to meet payroll and complete the work, impacting our cash flow for a period of time. We ultimately set up a management system that released money to the company’s spending account based on completed work delivered to the client. Call it the growing pains of a (then) young, private, company.

6.       What is the best piece of advice you could offer to someone considering stepping into your shoes? 
Become certified. It opens your eyes to what should be done. Learn how to read manuals and understand your equipment and connection paths. Become a great troubleshooter and problem solver. Always bring multiple solutions to a potential problem to every event. Listen intently. Be willing to throw out equipment and processes when they keep you from moving forward. Delight the client, even if you have to jump through hoops to do it.

7.       If you had to do it all over, what would you do differently? 
I was afraid of dropping out of corporate America and into small business. A majority of my family was employed by larger companies for most of my youth. As a result, I didn’t get exposed to the benefits (and struggles) of small, closely held businesses. I’ve now been in the small business sector for over a decade, enjoy it immensely, and wish I had made the change sooner. It takes two minutes to make major decisions – decisions that take months in the corporate environment.

8.       Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? 
I’ve been giving back to the industry for the last 8 years. I plan on expanding the sharing of what I’ve learned over the next 10 years – the industry needs someone who can read manuals.

Balmer: "Learn how to read manuals"
9.       What would you consider the biggest change that has transpired during your career? 
I started my professional career in May, 1981. The IBM PC was introduced to the business world in August, 1981. You had a choice – stick with the proven past, or take a risk with the newest of unproven tools. I took the path less traveled, and it dramatically impacted the rest of my career (thank you, Robert Frost, for The Road Not Taken).

10.   What do you predict for the future for those in your profession?
There will be constant change in offerings in the legal video sector, and capital acquisitions are going to have a shorter life span than what we experienced in the past. Embrace the trend and seek a path that embraces continuous improvement in your breadth and quality of offerings.

Contact Bruce Balmer
Phone: 803-988-0086

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pro Files: Robb Helt

This is the first interview of a new series in which we will take a look at what makes some of the people in our professions tick. If you've been in the trial technology trenches for a few years, you've probably heard of Robb Helt. He started the original Trial Technology group on Yahoo, recently launched a popular podcast series, and has a very impressive resume'. Feel free to follow up with your questions and comments.

Robb Helt

1.       Where do you currently work, and what is your primary role?
Suann Ingle Associates LLC. - Director of Trial Technology and Client Development

2.       Share a little about your background, education and work experience prior to your current position.
I started in this industry in late 1998 doing video depositions for McDaniel & Wells. This moved quickly into the role of Trial Presentation. Prior to coming to M&W I graduated from Wichita State University with a BS in Information Systems Management and then a Masters from the University of Arkansas in the same. I left McDaniel & Wells on June 28, 2004 to start my own company, Litigation Resource Group in Fort Smith Arkansas. LRG was in business from Jan 1 2005 to Jan 16 2014 when we were purchased by a firm in Memphis TN. After spending a little over a year in Memphis, I am now living in Dallas/Fort Worth. 

3.       Share a little about what you do when not working.
When not working I am playing golf and spending time with friends and family. It is very rare that I am not working. I have an extremely understanding wife.

4.       Tell us about one or two significant cases or experiences in your career.
The West Memphis Three case was one of the most memorable for me because of the impact that it had. The second, of course, was the Super Bowl of trials and that was the BP Oil Spill Trial in New Orleans. The BP trial was exciting because of the stress level. 125,000,000 documents to call up at a moment’s notice. It was different because the prep lasted 15 months and there were more than 70,000 exhibits. We pushed everything to it’s limit…the software, hardware, and ourselves.

Robb at work in the Haliburton war room

5.       Share about one or two disasters during your career, and how you managed to recover.
1. I used the "pack and go" feature one time in the middle of the day during trial. It completely wiped my database and all global paths. I recovered by grabbing the database backup, shoving it to another laptop and moving the DAT, CMS and MDB. All of this was done while my lawyer was asking questions of a witness.
2. I had a kidney stone during a trial in 2009. I was able to do the trial while on prescription pain meds and never missed a beat. However, I do not remember 2 days of the trial. I was there but I have no memory. I was truly on Auto Pilot.

6.       What is the best piece of advice you could offer to someone considering stepping into your shoes?
Trial Technicians have an insatiable work ethic to do great work and provide superior service to our clients. My success is a result of my dedication and discipline: I eat, sleep and breathe trial.  The only other advice would be NEVER sign a non compete. 

7.       If you had to do it all over, what would you do differently?
I would not change a thing, other than the sale of LRG in 2014. I would have kept the company and merged it into my current company.

8.       Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Teaching this industry to those who are willing to learn.

9.       What would you consider the biggest change that has transpired during your career?
The reception of my podcast and the introduction of all things "touch"

10.   What do you predict for the future for those in your profession?
I think it is going to be more of a Software as a Service industry and with things becoming easier and less expensive, you are going to see more and more paralegals and lawyers trying to do this themselves. It has been going that direction for 10 years and continues to go even more with all things touch being at their disposal.

Contact Robb Helt:
Phone: 682-593-5610

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

iPad in Trial

Jeff Richardson (iPhone JD) recently shared an interesting story of attorney Carolyn Elefant’s use of an iPad and the TrialPad app in trial. He includes a list of several others as well.

While Jeff and Carolyn share another great story of the iPad in use for things once reserved for computers, one thing we don't read about much is where the iPad falls short in power and function. While the iPad can do many things, it is still not a computer, and there comes a point where its limitations are (or should be) realized - often with specific tasks that would require labor-intensive workarounds using several different tiny task-specific apps. Some things simply cannot be done efficiently without a computer. Smaller cases may be a great place for the iPad, but I wouldn't want to try juggling 50,000 exhibit pages in trial without my laptop. Let me be clear that I do enjoy using my iPad, but I don’t use it as my primary workstation. Call me a hater, but the iPad just isn’t a practical tool for everyday use, in my opinion – especially when you need all the horsepower you can get.

My point? Use the iPad if you want, but don't get caught up in the hype to the point it hurts your case or productivity. Be aware of your own limitations, and those of the tools you have at your disposal. If you’ve never been much of a “techie” in the past, it’s not likely the iPad will make you one. There’s a little more under the hood than you might realize. Just because Carolyn Elefant can do it (read her story) doesn't mean you can. Definitely don't  just show up for trial with your iPad and expect everything to work properly.  As with most other things you can try doing yourself, it's still a good idea to use the right tool for the job, or to bring in an expert when needed. Trial is not so much about looking cool as it is representing one's client in the best possible manner. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Trial Presentation Options

What’s up with all of the new trial presentation applications being released recently? Will the likes of TrialTouch, OnCue, Limine and Maestro take a bite out of the professional trial presentation market? Are they geared more toward their own (proprietary) in-house use, or toward attorneys wanting to do it on their own? A few of these have already been featured on the popular Trial Technology and Lit Support Podcast (

OnCue ( appears on the surface to be oriented toward the professional market, but with the fallback of using it in-house as a proprietary application. According to their site, OnCue was “Engineered by pros for other pros. The most powerful features will be appreciated by those using it day in and day out.” As a joint venture of Core Legal Concepts and RLM TrialGraphix, the OnCue site states, “We make software but don’t provide courtroom support–we have other companies* for that,” with the asterisk referencing the joint venture statement. With Core and RLM providing trial support services, it might seem a bit odd that they would be marketing the software they developed for their own in-house use to their competitors. But then again, inData also offers trial support services, so it may not be such a unique approach after all. In comparison, inData is more about TrialDirector sales than trial support services, while Core and RLM are more about trial services than software sales. Published pricing options range from $50 per month to $80 per month.

Limine: Short-Term Tablet Rental
Limine ( is offered presumably with a primary market of attorneys who want to do it themselves, and secondarily, litigation support folks who are looking for a reasonably-priced trial presentation app. A partnership with equipment rental firm Aquipt fuels their Microsoft Surface touchscreen tablet program, which comes loaded with the software for trial. Microsoft Office comes as an optional upgrade. Once you’re finished with your trial, you just return the tablet. The rental fee includes access to the PC desktop version of Limine Classic, which is also limited to the duration of your trial. Litigation Support professionals can also partner directly with Legistek to “offer Limine-equipped touchscreen devices as part of your essential trial support services.” Published pricing options include a short-term rental for $599 (up to three weeks with Limine and a tablet, and up to four weeks with Limine Classic) and a PC desktop version for $499 annually.

Maestro ( looks to be aimed toward the litigator who is already on the current or prospective client list of Colorado-based High Impact, an illustration and interactive animation provider. Their illustrations and animation work are among the best I’ve seen, but until now, presenting it to a jury has been left to the professionals. Another touchscreen offering, “Maestro is comprised of an interactive touchscreen interface, your choice of dynamic presentation modes, intuitive gesture controls and an arsenal of user-friendly editing tools.” Rather than using a touchscreen tablet, Maestro uses a large monitor, similar to what you might see on the evening news. You can develop your own presentation, or you can “(invite) your support staff to help organize and manage your presentation behind-the-scenes - even as you’re delivering your argument.” I’m not so sure I’d recommend having someone work on your presentation over the Internet while you’re doing your Closing, but I guess that’s up to you. Pricing is not yet published on their website.

iPad Screenshot 4
TrialTouch ( has been around a bit longer, but I'll include it here among the newer options. Another option focused on the do-it-yourself attorney, "Trial Touch™ is your paralegal, service bureau and trial technician in one convenient, easy-to-use solution." This iPad app serves as a delivery vehicle for the graphics and animation work of DK Global, as well as for working with and presenting your other trial exhibits. According to their website, "Trial Touch includes a variety of tools giving you the ability to redact, highlight, magnify, and even stamp your documents and assign them as exhibits to witnesses. All of the features of the app are optimized for the iPad, giving you the capability to convert gigs of video, imagery, and data without the worry of playback failure or errors in loading." Published pricing ranges from $1900 for 5GB to $9995 per year for a "monthly subscription service that gives you the ability to upload all your documents and videos to the server."

Comments and questions about any of these are encouraged. Perhaps we can convince the software publishers to chime in as well, adding some insight. Additional comments may be found on the Trial Technology LinkedIn Group.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Time To Vote!

No, this has nothing to do with the Primaries -- although that has certainly been an interesting and entertaining topic lately. Readers of the Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg are encouraged to nominate us in a blog competition currently found online at The Expert Institute.

According to the site, they are in the process of “creating the largest and most comprehensive ranking of legal blogs online today as chosen by thousands of voters ...Each blog will compete for rank, as well as exposure to our monthly readership of more than 200,000 legal professionals.”

Listed categories include Medical Malpractice / Personal Injury, Criminal, Technology, Commercial and Intellectual Property Law, Labor and Employment, Education, Niche and Specialty. We would greatly appreciate your vote in the Technology category. While there are cash prizes for the top 3, the real benefit for us would be that even more legal professionals come to discover the resource we have been working on diligently for many years.

Of course, another great source of legal blawgs is the ABA Journal, where we are listed in the following categories:  Trials & Litigation | Law Practice Management | Evidence | Legal Technology | Consultant | Business of Law -- If you can’t find something of interest to read there, you’re probably not really interested in reading. There are many other categories to choose from as well.

A little history of our blawg:

Our first blog post was published in July of 2009. Since then, we have published nearly 200 articles focused on the intersection of law and technology. Before blogging, beginning back in the late 1990’s, we frequently wrote for several print publications, including Law Technology News (now LegalTech News), still another great resource for legal-geeks and others concerned about integrating technology and law. One recent Legal TechNews article (HM Electronics v. R.F. Technologies), tells the story of what can happen to attorneys who don’t bother keeping up with technology. 

LinkedIn groups are also an excellent way to follow specific topics. While some are controlled and moderated better than others, many have some great info, along with unique opportunities to interact and connect with like-minded professionals. I would suggest you check out the Trial Technology group, if you find this blawg interesting.

We have previously published two lists of a few of our favorite LinkedIn groups for attorneys and legal professionals, which remain in the top two all-time most popular posts on this blawg:

The membership stats shown in the articles are a bit outdated, but the groups remain of great interest.

Friday, July 31, 2015

10 Reasons You Should NOT Install Windows 10 (yet)

1. What could possibly go wrong? Just quietly ponder that on your own for a moment.

2. Have you ever done something like this on your own before? Although Microsoft has made it appear to be a very simple process, the potential consequences are significant. Seriously – this is the Operating System for your computer. It’s like the techie version of open-heart surgery.

3. Will your mission-critical software still work? Even after success during beta testing, some software does not work properly yet with the current release. It’s only a matter of time, but don’t jump off the bridge before checking with your providers to make sure your stuff is compliant.

4. Are you concerned with privacy? If so, you might want to pay close attention to the License terms, along with some of the options and choices. Failure to do so may compromise your (and your clients’) data. In the legal profession, that may somewhat less than ideal. Pay extra attention to how (or if) you configure Cortana.

5. Do you have an extra computer? If so, this would be a good place to do your own testing and training. See if you’re comfortable with how it works before locking yourself into an uncomfortable working environment.

6. Do you have some free time? If you’re in the midst of an important project, the answer is probably no. You should expect to spend several hours with the upgrade, and then several more learning and working with it.

7. Should you accept default settings? Generally, it’s the path of least resistance, but it is also the path of most unknowns. Check out your options before merrily clicking “Next.”

8. Can you wait, or do you have to upgrade now? There is no urgent rush, although according to Microsoft “you must upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of availability.” At this point, that would appear to be July 28 of 2016.

9. What can you do if you upgrade and then find some of your software no longer works? According to the FAQ page, you will have one month after upgrading to revert back to the previous version, although I have heard of problems continuing even after a rollback.

10. Should you have someone else do this for you? If you’re in a large firm, you probably won’t see a firm-wide rollout for at least a few months – and for good reasons (see above). For smaller firms, if you have an IT person or service, you should consider having them handle the upgrade for you. If you’re independent and on your own, then you’re independent and on your own.

So, you’re not scared and you want to go for it? No problem, and you don’t have to wait for your scheduled release date. Simply use this link and let the games begin: 

I've gone through a number of major software upgrades over the years, and I would say Windows 10 is certainly going to be worth every penny - especially for those getting the free upgrade (currently running Windows 7 or 8). How quickly you jump in is up to you (or those upon whom you depend to manage these things for you). I personally found one specialized software issue which will prevent me from rolling it out to my "money-maker" machines right now, but overall, the system looks very nice and is simple to use.

Windows 10 Home Screen with Start Menu, Edge Browser

A couple of additional handy resources:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Top 3 Legal Technology Trends in 2015

A recent ThinkTank article asks several leaders in the Legal Technology space to share their big-picture thoughts on the direction we're heading. A few of the key issues mentioned are the billable hour, artificial intelligence, and smart devices. For my bit, I've included a bit on courtroom technology. Here is my Q&A. Links to the full article are below.

“What are the top three legal technology trends you have seen so far in 2015, and what do you expect to see in the near future? Why should law firms/attorneys be paying attention to these?”


1. Courtroom trial presentation systems
Many courtrooms are now equipped with trial presentation equipment, and when they have it, they expect you to use it. State courts are still a bit behind the Federal courts, but overall, the Judiciary is very supportive of its use. Two key reasons are the efficiency of evidence presentation, and the advantage of helping the jury to better understand the evidence. Some judges have estimated a trial can proceed as much as 30-50% faster.
Although this trend is generally a good thing, not every courtroom is set up with the same equipment. The newest installations are getting HDMI systems, and older courtrooms have VGA equipment and connections. Fortunately, the new systems are also including “legacy” VGA access. In any event, one should never assume that everything will work as expected. A thorough test of your actual system is a must.

2. Court Reporting options

Having a Court Reporter available for trial has been an unrealized luxury for many years. With budget cuts hitting the courts, there have been some changes to the system. For starters, you cannot assume that a Court Reporter will be provided for your trial. Some courts (and some departments of courts) still provide the service, while others require you to provide your own reporter. In some courts, only a digital audio recording is offered. If you wish to have a transcript, you’ll have to get that done on your own.
Another recent option available in some courts is “digital court reporting,” where an audio file is recorded, and voice-recognition software is used to create a transcript. Although it isn’t flawless and will not become the “official record” of the proceedings, it does a decent job.
3. Mobile devices and apps

Everyone who has an iPad raise your hands. I’ll bet more than 50% in a room full of lawyers will have one, and most everyone has some sort of “smart” device these days. I remember getting a Blackberry when they came out. It was astounding that we could actually get email while in a courtroom! My, how times have changed. This whole mobile revolution is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing part may be obvious to some, in that you can have a 24×7 connection to anything from virtually everywhere. The curse part is that you have a 24×7 connection to anything from virtually everywhere. Throw in a dash of cyber security concern, and you have imminent disaster online 24×7 for your IT Department.
For smaller firms and solo practitioners, there is an app for nearly anything you need to do. Although it may be only a few dollars here and a few more there, it all adds up, and with the limited functionality of each app (and the iPad itself), in most cases, it really can’t completely replace a computer.
Larger firms will likely need to standardize and roll out apps in a similar manner as they’ve been doing for years with regular computers and software. There are many options out there—many with inherent risks, compatibility issues and other concerns.
Here's a link to the full ThinkTank article, Legal Tech Trends: Experts Sound Off on What to Expect in 2015 and Beyond.
Here's a link to the complete set of expert responses: Want to know more? Here are the full answers we received from our experts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Best Courtroom Presentation Providers

Litigation-Tech has been named one of THE BEST COURTROOM PRESENTATION PROVIDERS in The Recorder’s 2015 poll! 

This is the 3rd time readers have voted for us as their favorite, and we have been informed that as a result, we will also receive the Hall of Fame Award. Thanks so much to all who voted! It is truly humbling to be recognized among the many fine trial presentation providers in the Golden State. I can say that we love what do, and we're glad others do too!

Today marks the 6th anniversary of Court Technology and Trial Presentation! We have a great collection of popular articles, many of which have been reprinted and used in other publications, various CLE programs, and have been featured as Technolawyer's LitigationWorld Pick of the Week. This blawg is written and shared with the intent of informing and educating others in topics relative to the crossroads of law and technology.

Litigation-Tech now features a mobile-friendly website, which will automatically re-size itself according to your device and browser size. Try it out on your phone or tablet. If you're into geeky things, you can re-size your computer browser to get the idea. Final tip - those who have web sites should consider updating yours to a mobile-friendly design as well.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Local Court Rules - Local Experience

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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Connected With Court

In this era of fewer trials, if you still find yourself in front of a jury now and then, you may have noticed a few upgrades to some of our courtrooms. You’ll find equipment installed and available in many Federal courtrooms, and some Superior courtrooms as well. It’s a good idea to check into this well in advance if you are going to trial, in order to determine what (if anything) is available, and what you’ll need to bring in order to make it work for you. You should also test the actual system. There is no good excuse for not being able to present your Opening Statement due to equipment issues.

Most courtroom presentation installations will accept a VGA connection and an audio cable that fits into a headphone jack. Some of the newest systems have HDMI connections. These feature full HDMI capability, but usually also include the older VGA option. In either case, you should test your laptop and should know how to make it connect to various audio and video ports. Although HDMI also carries the audio signal, most laptops can be configured to send it via the headphone port if desired, even when using the HDMI for video. In a recent setup, I needed to add a speaker set, since the installed courtroom audio system was not loud enough.

In most cases, you won’t need to bring much with you, and in some cases, you may not be permitted to supplement the court’s setup. One large screen and a projector are still the most effective method of getting everyone to look in the same place at the same time, and you can also use a laser pointer if desired. That stated, some courts don’t have a projector and screen, and some will not allow you to bring one in.

In my experience, the Courts generally have a technical person available to offer training and limited assistance on their system. It’s not their responsibility to know how your laptop or iPad works however, so you’ll need to know how to configure your own computer. If you’re planning on running an iPad via Wi-Fi, you’ll need to provide everything required to make that happen.

Many courtrooms have little or no equipment, so you’ll have to bring and install everything. This is generally shared with opposing counsel, along with associated costs. A couple of earlier articles on this blog include details for typical courtrooms, and for larger courtrooms.

Of course, if you have better things to occupy your time, a Trial Presentation expert can take care of all of this for you. Since they are in trial more than most attorneys, they can help ensure that you have the best available option set up and ready to go, and can assist during trial.