Trial technology is no different than anything else in life. It can be the greatest thing for a lawyer and his clients and a good presentation is also appreciated by the judge and jury. But why all the worries about technology?
Many attorneys fall into the “I hate change” category. When you fall into this category, you use technology challenges as an excuse for doing things the old-fashioned way. What is the old-fashioned way? Big boards or trying to put a document on the overhead projector like your high school science teacher.
But are technology challenges too great to sway you into the modern age? The answer is a simple, NO! Having a willingness to use technology will make a huge difference in your success. If you go in skeptical, you’ll exit unhappy. You don’t need to be one of those “early adopters”; just get on the tech train and shovel the coal!
Anything worth anything requires some learning curve and patience. Trial and error and practice make perfect. I think this is the crux of the problem. The amount of time to learn vs. old habits are the only challenges you are really facing. I have been a trial technologist for more than 15 years. I have seen a lot and everything I have seen tells me the day is coming when an attorney will walk in and plug in for any court proceeding. What device? What connection method? Wireless or wired, who, what, when and why?
Don’t worry about all that. Just get on board today and come along for the ride. Now, I want to address the elephant in the room. The “what if”. “What if the technology fails on me? (most of time it’s operator error BTW). “ I do not want to look inept in front of a jury”. “Mr. Roach, you have no idea how much money is at stake and my client is counting on me”.
Yeah, understandable and a solid defense for sure. But having been in courtrooms for many years, I can state unequivocally that technical issues cannot affect facts. I have seen and experienced my own technology issues in a courtroom and the only thing I can say is that it has humanized me. It will humanize you. You will be given sympathy and you will become the underdog with the jury rooting for you to conquer the technology. Go ahead and put in a call to your local favorite judges and ask them. Ask them if anyone who has faced technical challenges in court are looked upon as a courtroom pariah? Ask did technology issues that you have seen attorneys face cause the jury to side with the opponent? I would not find the judges answers surprising. My part II of this article will be a summary review of this exact question posed to judges from across the country.
I can promise anyone reading this article that while you may be a hesitant player; and you’re not a trailblazer, and you don’t buy the latest technology when it comes out or you never actually set the clock on your VCR all those years ago, you can easily become an efficient and knowledgeable advocate using technology in a courtroom by yourself or your staff paralegals. Some states even let you bill for the paralegals time when you win an award in court. That’s a win-win-win!
Questions? Concerns? Thoughts? Advice? Education? Please feel free to contact me anytime to discuss technology. If you would like a product demo, give me a call or email or have your paralegal set up a time. A very wise man once told me over and over and over this: The more you investigate, the less you invest.
Bill Roach is a partner and creative director of products at ExhibitView Solutions, LLC. ExhibitView Solutions, LLC creates useful tools for litigation including ExhibitView Trial Presenter, TranscriptPro transcript manager, and PDF+ Exhibit preparation software and iTrial, an iPad app for making trial presentations.