December 14, 2018 Practice Points

A Guide to Using Documents at Trial for First-Time Trial Lawyers

How to avoid frantically shuffling through piles of paper while the jury is watching your every move

by Miriam J. Manber

The physical mechanics of using documents at a trial can often be overwhelming to attorneys preparing for their first trial.  Below are a few tips and best practices that will help things go smoothly, and keep you from frantically shuffling through piles of paper while the jury is watching your every move.

Paper documents

Even though many courtrooms are equipped with technology which will allow you to use electronic documents, sometimes the old-fashioned paper approach is still best, especially in small cases with a fairly constrained set of documents being used as exhibits, or in a bench trial where only the judge needs a copy of the exhibit.

Once the parties have exchanged exhibit lists, and any disputes over admissibility have been settled or ruled upon by the court, you’ll want to start making binders.  You will want a binder for yourself, containing your marked-up working copies of each exhibit.  Your colleagues or co-counsel may want similar binders for themselves. 

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