As the world becomes ever more dependent on technology, jurors, judges, and witnesses increasingly expect lawyers to proficiently use it. Mastering the use of technology in the courtroom is not only possible but also extremely wise.
1. Choose Your Software Wisely
First thing’s first. It is imperative to choose the correct presentation software. Programs such as Trial Director allow you to easily show a document to a witness, draw the witness’s attention to important parts of the document, and display demonstratives. Discuss your options with your staff and industry experts.
2. Know Your Audience
Some judges have strict rules about using technology in the courtroom and may even limit or disallow it. Others require a motion to be filed before using it. Call the judge’s chambers and discuss what you will be permitted to use and what you need to bring with you (monitors, a screen, cords, etc.). Also consider who the trier of fact is. Many jurors expect the use of technology and can become frustrated by too many paper exhibits.
3. Timing is Everything
It is essential to know when to use technology in the courtroom. Think beyond jury trials. Will your argument in a hearing be strengthened by the use of visuals? Are there documents that need to be shown in a way to flag key information?
4. Surround Yourself with a Team that Makes You Look Good
As is true in every courtroom interaction, your team can make or break you. Make sure you surround yourself with people who are exceedingly good at their jobs and able to quickly adapt while maintaining a calm demeanor. Bring with you an experienced paralegal who knows how to use the presentation software and who can handle the logistics while you focus on the content.
5. Preparation is Key
Equally important as choosing the correct software is mastering the use of this technology before you have a judge and 12 jurors watching your every move. Have your team set up the software in your office and practice pulling up the documents. Ask for time to set up the equipment before court starts so there is plenty of time to fix any issues that may arise.
6. Always Have a Backup Plan
Of course, as good as your team may be, sometimes technology fails. Be sure you have a backup plan. Have hard copies of exhibits, a printer in the courtroom, extra cords, a spare Wi-Fi device in case the internet in the courtroom goes down, etc.
Tiffany deGruy is a partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Birmingham, Alabama.