Trial technology has become a crucial tool for today’s attorneys. Those who avoid trial preparation and trial presentation technology quickly find themselves disadvantaged when litigating against those who use it well. Litigating cases without good trial presentation and preparation technology is like going to a war with one or both hands tied behind your back.
There are many good options available in trial technology packages — with every manner of bells and whistles for solving the problems we confront as litigators. And if you invest in trial technology, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of those features, and giddy with anticipation of all that they do.
But, don’t become too enamored of your acquisition of trial technology, or you risk falling into a common trap.
Learn How to Leverage the Power of Your Trial Technology
The trap comes from our own thinking that the acquisition of trial technology is a panacea. The acquisition of trial technology is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end. If you believe that merely because you have acquired the software you are all set for trial, you’re going to be dissatisfied with your use of the technology.
Trial technology is only as good as the investment of the people using it have made in understanding and leveraging it. If you do no more with your technology than learn how to project a document on the screen, your technology will be only an expensive document viewer. But, if you take the time to really learn the software — and how to access its features and benefits — trial technology will be your best friend.
Here are some pointers on how to learn and leverage trial technology software:
Learn and Understand the Features of Your Trial Technology Software
- Know every task the software can do for you. You don’t have to know how to use every aspect of it yourself, but know what to ask for as you prepare for trial. Knowing the possibilities is very freeing for trial preparation.
- Discover all of the options available for each task. Can you show video in multiple ways? Can you show documents and excerpts in various sizes? Can you leverage the documents and other discovery materials to maximize the ground you gain on every point you make?
- Be aware of the amount of time it takes to use the software to prepare a case. In the same way that we know that it takes us a certain length of time to review a transcript, make yourself aware of the realistic time required to edit the 50 deposition video clips you’ll need, or to respond to your opponent’s objections, or the court’s requests.
- Learn about multiple ways in your software to accomplish the same goals. While you are learning to use your technology, keep track of variations in the way you can accomplish the same task. That variation can add an additional layer of interest to your trial presentation. Deliberately building variation in the way you use and annotate documents in an examination, for instance, will keep the jury more involved, and make your case more compelling.
- Figure out new and creative ways to use the software to reduce time spent in case preparation. Most trial technology packages have powerful pretrial features not often used by attorneys. Those features aid in case planning, motion preparation, deposition digesting and other important pretrial tasks. Employ every feature and you’ll see your pretrial preparation time cut drastically. Reward the creativity of your staff as they discovery time-saving techniques derived from the software.
- Drill with your trial technology so you know what to do in the event of a special request from the court. See my earlier posting on this topic, entitled “The Biggest Mistake Attorneys Make with Trial Presentation Technology.”
- Debrief with your staff after using the technology. What went right? What went wrong? Ask yourself these and other debriefing questions to make your next experience even more beneficial.
Leverage All Trial Technology Training and Support
Some of the best ways to leverage the software comes from taking advantage of training, learning and support opportunities:
- Subscribe to newsletters, blogs and other written materials produced by the creators of your trial technology software. You’ll often find pointers on how to use the software more effectively.
- Provide rigorous and ongoing training for any people working with the software in any capacity. From the most senior partner in the firm to the legal support staff, everyone should have a vested interest in understanding the depth and breadth of this software — even if you differentiate in the level of proficiency or detail required for certain individuals.
- Take advantage of trial technology software support. If you acquire a new package, it will almost always come with support. Negotiate the level of support so your staff can get answers to their questions rapidly and as often as they like. Insist on telephone support. Take advantage of it while you have it. And consider putting in place support contracts so that you have access to information on how to leverage your software from experts. Finally, as trial comes up, put into place 24/7 support so you can have access to experts at the most crucial time of your case.
- Search out manuals or online documentation on the software and make it accessible to everyone using the technology. Create an internal “knowledge base” where everyone can document their experiences with the technology and provide pointers to others on how to get the most out of the software.
- Consider using certified Trial Technicians to help run the software. If your staff is new to the software, or not as well versed as you would like, consider hiring outside support to streamline your experience. They are skilled in the real-world courtroom use of the software, and you’ll pick up great pointers for your next trial.
By learning how to leverage the power of your trial technology, you’ll escape a common trap for lawyers, and maximize your opportunities for faster trial preparation, better settlement results and a winning verdict.
Would you like to learn more about trial technology? The Winning Litigator can help. Read our discussions of trial technology consulting, or request a free consultation to discuss how we can assist you with your technology needs.