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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Friday, December 22, 2017

Ten PowerPoint Tips for the Courtroom

PowerPoint Tips for the Courtroom

(Originally published on ABA Law Technology Today)

Since everyone has a different level of comfort and experience with something used as infrequently as PowerPoint, the objective for this list is to approach the topic from several different perspectives, in hopes that each reader might find at least two or three helpful tips. We’ll begin with some very basic design and layout ideas, and move on to some more technical and advanced features. With about 20 years’ experience in trial presentation, these are a few things I’ve seen used/misused most often.

1. Slide Layout

If you’re using PowerPoint slides, you may select widescreen (16:9) or standard (4:3) slides. The current version of PowerPoint defaults to widescreen, but that may not be the best for courtroom use.
On wide computer monitors, widescreen fills it up. Most court presentation systems still use a standard projector and screen, however, so although you will fill the side-to-side area, your top and bottom may have a lot of blank space. The projector may be adjusted to compensate, unless someone else is using the standard 4:3 layout. Find out what will be used in your courtroom, and set up your presentation accordingly.

2. Color Choices

Volumes have been written on color theory and the visual effects different colors can communicate. Without getting too deep on this, you should consider going with a soft, neutral slide background, as opposed to something that becomes the primary point of interest. You should also avoid using a black text font on a plain white background when possible, as it can actually cause visual fatigue when viewing for long periods of time.

3. Templates

Do use a template. Don’t use a bad template. Using a neutral template will help prevent viewers from becoming distracted by “busy” backgrounds, and can ensure that all slides have a visually similar theme.
Bonus Hint: This is NOT a good legal slide template.
Make sure to use an appropriate font and image sizing. Too much text on a slide, or a small photo in the middle of a slide are common mistakes you should avoid. Make sure any sound effects are disabled, and if you do use animated text fly-ins, use a consistent and subtle effect.

4. Recycling Graphics

With a bit of forethought, you can reuse your graphics, making them even more effective in your closing argument. For opening statements, avoid any argument or going beyond “what the evidence will show in trial.” You may be able to tweak it a bit if you use it during testimony with an expert witness, and later adding an argumentative title or comments to the closing version.

5. Backups and Redundancy

Never assume that everything will work properly. If you plan on using the courtroom system, you should bring a backup with you. Ideally, this would be another computer or iPad with your presentation already loaded, but a thumb drive or even a hard-copy printed set might save the day. Fortunately, many courtroom systems still include a document camera (e.g., ELMO).

6. Video Problems

If you’ve added video to presentations before, you may have experienced an issue where you can see the first image of the video, but it won’t play, leaving you with a great opportunity to explain to the jury what they would have seen if only the video had played properly. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, the media file should be located in the same folder as the PPT file. If you are prompted to upgrade your media file to the current standard, do it, which should embed the media into the PPT. Finally, make sure you test it ahead of time, both in editing and presentation modes.

7. Save Money

Cost is always a factor when it comes to bringing technology into trial. One quick and easy way to reduce costs is with a cost-sharing agreement for equipment rental. In many cases, you might also be able to share “neutral” access to a trial tech for presenting the trial exhibits. This should all be negotiated with opposing counsel well in advance of your trial date.

8. Blowups and Screen Size

Ideally, these decisions are made based on the courtroom layout. In very small courtrooms, or perhaps for a bench trial, you might be able to use a 2’x3’ blowup, with perhaps a 42” monitor. In larger courtrooms, the jury may be seated thirty feet or more from the screen, so you will want to go with a minimum screen size of seven or eight feet. Blowups can then be printed at 4’x6’ or larger. Jurors straining to view a postage stamp at twenty feet is generally not a good strategy.

9. Monitors or Projector and Screen

If your courtroom has technology installed, you will obviously be able to use that.
If not, you will need to decide what sort of equipment to use. While there are several options, and as many opinions, in most cases, I would recommend going with a large screen and projector over several smaller monitors. Your image will be larger, giving you and the jury one central and common point of focus. Plus, you can’t effectively use a laser pointer on a monitor.

10. System Connections

You may be familiar with the terms, “VGA” and “HDMI.” These are the two common video connections used in courtrooms today, and your laptop must be able to utilize one or the other.
Left to right: USB, HDMI, VGA
 You may need an adapter (i.e., USB, mini DisplayPort), and if you’re planning on going wireless with an iPad, you will need a complete system such as Apple TV to do so. The courts generally do not have the Apple system installed, nor any adapters you might need to connect anything other than VGA or HDMI.

Bonus Tip: Blank Screen

Have you ever been presenting and you wished you could quickly blank the screen? To blank the presentation screen at any time, simply hit the letter “B” key on your keyboard. To resume the presentation, hit the key again, or resume and advance the slide with the mouse, clicker, page-down, or the arrow key. The “W” key works the same, although it projects a white screen instead of black.

Bonus Tip: Navigation

If you need to jump directly to a specific slide without going through several others to get there, simply type in the slide number and then hit the “Enter” key. If you do expect to use this feature, make sure to have a printed set or other slide directory with page numbers, since few things can be quite as humiliating as getting lost in your PowerPoint presentation.

About Ted Brooks

Los Angeles, San Francisco
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.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Who's YOUR trial tech?

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,

Wrapping up the year, here are a few of our latest Honors & Awards

  • New York Law Journal Magazine, Best Of 2017

    New York Law Journal Magazine
    September 2017
    Best Trial Consultant
    Best "Hot Seat" Trial Technicians
  • The Recorder Best of 2017

    The Recorder
    August 2017
  • Best of Corporate Counsel

    Corporate Counsel
    June 2017
    2017 Best of Corporate Counsel
  • 2016 Best Courtroom Presentation Providers

    The Recorder
    Litigation-Tech and Ted Brooks are proud to be recognized as the best trial presentation providers in California. With offices in the extremely competitive markets of Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is a great honor and privilege to be named as "The Best Courtroom Presentation Providers."
  • Best Courtroom Presentation Providers - Hall of Fame

    The Recorder
    This is the 3rd time readers have voted for Litigation-Tech as Best Courtroom Presentation Providers, and 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!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Litigation Triangle

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, 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

Trick or Treat?

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

CLE: Ethics, Law & Technology

Ethics, Law & Technology

Event Information
Provider: Alameda County Bar Association
Location: Alameda County Bar Association
1000 Broadway, Suite 480
Oakland, CA  94607
Phone: 510-302-2222
Date: 08/23/2017
12:00 PM - 01:30 PM

Credits: 0.5 HR Ethics, 1 HR General

In today's world, every attorney should understand the dos and don’ts of using technology in the courtroom, the huge impact it can have on juries and the risks (including malpractice) of trying cases the old fashioned way. Join us to learn the most effective ways to engage jaded juries and judges and how to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to using courtroom technology. 
Light lunch provided.

FREE for ACBA Members
$115 for Non Members

Registration Link: Ethics, Law & Technology

Please note: there will be a $10 administrative fee if you cannot make the program, and do not cancel in advance. A $10 fee will also be assessed for day-of and walk-in registrations.
If you have trouble registering, please contact the Membership Coordinator at

Ted Brooks, Founder and CEO, Litigation-Tech LLC 
Starting from a background in engineering, technology, and a dot-com web development and marketing experience, Ted Brooks began his trial presentation, litigation support and consulting career in-house with Brobeck, an Amlaw 100 firm of nearly 1000 attorneys. This in-house law firm experience helps bridge the gap often encountered when attorneys work with outside consultants and experts. He founded his trial tech company in 2002, and since, Ted and his firm have won many awards over the years, including The Recorder's Best Trial Presentation Provider 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016; and Most Innovative Use of Technology in Trial (2003).

Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 Best of Corporate Counsel


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.

Ted Brooks
Litigation-Tech LLC

Friday, April 14, 2017

Best Impeachment EVER!

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

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

Battle of the Trial Presentation Apps

TechnoLawyer's LitigationWorld newsletter just published an excellent set of 9 different perspectives on trial presentation apps and software. Authors (limited to 175 words) include Ken Broda-Bahm, Ted Brooks (hey, that's me!), Russell Cardon, Mitch Jackson, Karen Koehler, Ian O'Flaherty, Timothy Piganelli, Jeff Richardson, and Thomas Vidal. If you're a subscriber, I welcome your comments and feedback here - from YOUR perspective. If you didn't receive it, I would be happy to forward the entire LitigationWorld email newsletter to you - just PM or email me your email address and I'll send it. My email is Once you've had a chance to read it, add your thoughts.
If you haven't already subscribed, you should - here is the URL:
For a preview, here's my part:
Ted Brooks, All of the Above: Use Each for Different Purposes
The key is knowing which tool is best for the job — regardless of the "hero" tales you might read.
An iPad is a great way to handle a modest amount of data, and I would not limit it to TrialPad. TrialDirector offers a free iPad app that will handle many of the basic trial presentation features. The problems I run into most often are either having too much stuff for the iPad to manage, or assuming the courtroom is going to be compatible with your iPad.
PowerPoint and Keynote are great, but unlike trial presentation software, they are linear by nature — slide 7 follows slide 6. This makes it cumbersome to randomly jump from one exhibit to another. I use these for Openings and Closings, since they are "scripted," and not as likely to need last-minute changes.
TrialDirector and other computer/laptop software is what the pros are using every day in trials across the nation. When it comes to trial presentation, this is the best and most capable suite of tools available for the job.
Ted Brooks is an award-winning Trial Presentation Consultant and blogger at Court Technology and Trial Presentation.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

One Exhibit No Attorney Wants to See

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 Cost of Trial Experience

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:

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.

Ted Brooks 
Litigation-Tech LLC 
Los Angeles, San Francisco
888-907-4434 Toll-free
2016 Best Courtroom Presentation Providers Award

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017 Greatest Hits

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. 


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.

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.

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.

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.

Here are a few of the most popular interviews in this series. There are several others.

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.