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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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Trial Tips – The Friends and Family Plan

Dr. Laurie Kuslansky recently shared a few examples of how trusting friends and family members for litigation advice might be less than optimal (see No Advice is Better Than Bad Advice in Litigation). Although there are many good ways to save money, there are at least as many bad ways to save money. Cost does not always equal value.

This article is number 4 in a series entitled “Trial Tech Tips.” Focused on the crossroads of law and technology, and in no particular order, we will share a collection of proven and tested methods for accomplishing a wide variety of common and/or critical tasks encountered during trial preparation or presentation. We will also try to rank them from one to ten on a “geek scale,” with one being not too technical, and 10 being very technical.

On a geek scale of one to ten, this article would be rated at about a 3.

I have heard some great stories of lawyers winning huge cases, while saving tons of money by doing everything themselves. With all of the latest in software, iPads, and readily-available technology, anyone can learn enough to handle nearly everything on their own, from graphics to mock trials to jury selection to trial presentation, resulting in thousands of dollars easily saved! Just imagine how happy your client would be with that! Or, better yet, if you’re handling the case on a contingency basis, you will be able to enjoy the entire pie, rather than having to share!

Mock Trial –
One thing is for certain – If you do bring in friends or family members to help, you can be assured that they will share your desire to succeed. They want you to win, and they believe that you will prevail. Your friends and family members believe in you and your case as much as you. And that is the problem. There is not one real juror who will believe in you or your case before they have heard the evidence.

During the course of trial prep and presentation, I will generally offer feedback and advice on what I think of the evidence, or how the trial is going. Do I have any less vested interest in your success in trial than your own mother? Absolutely not, but unless your mother has many years of actual trial experience, her perspective might be a little different. A professional Trial Consultant has no desire to simply make you feel good about your case. Rather, their job is to discover strengths and expose weaknesses in your armor.

Graphics –
I heard a very successful lawyer give a presentation in which he proudly shared that his teenage child had created the graphics that were instrumental in a favorable verdict, and encouraged attendees to do the same. Although it may have worked once for him, will it work for you? Is it really worth the risk or the money saved? Maybe. Or, maybe it would be prudent to bring in someone who does this type of work on a daily basis.

Trial Presentation –
I’ve read a few articles where attorneys have successfully handled their entire trial presentation themselves with an iPad. It worked for them, so why couldn't it work for you? What could possibly go wrong? I won’t go there now, but you can find more on that here.

Conclusion –
There are indeed ways to save money when it comes to litigation. Some will have the ability (and extra time required) to learn how to do everything on their own. Most will not. Practicing law is just one piece of the litigation pie. There are many other pieces to be distributed or consumed. Just as your client believes that you are the best attorney available to represent them, it should be a top priority to surround yourself with equally-talented professionals who you believe can help ensure that your case is prepared and presented in the best possible manner. While any client can appreciate cost-savings, they can also appreciate counsel that engages the best trial team available. Of course, a favorable verdict is always a plus.