Trial prep has evolved over the years. There are now countless presentation tools. What you choose can make the difference between a smooth trial and one riddled with missteps. Over the years I have assisted countless clients in choosing the right software. To fully determine clients’ needs, I begin by asking these questions:
- How many exhibits?
- How many depositions?
- Plan on using deposition impeachments?
- Who is running the software?
- What technology is available at the trial site?
From there I can help determine what software will serve best. Let’s look at different presentation software tools, and what I recommend as the best for different trial scenarios.
Less Than 50 Exhibits (and No Video)
If under 50 exhibits and no need to display video, I recommend the free TrialDirector for iPad app.
TrialDirector for iPad is a straightforward app that any tech-savvy attorney or paralegal can run with minimal training. The app offers basic annotation tools; split screen for showing up to two documents at a time; and a simple pinch zoom to easily navigate documents.
No matter how tech-savvy, I still recommend downloading and practicing with the app before opening statements begin to help ensure a seamless presentation.
Less Than 200 Exhibits (and No Impeachment Videos)
If less than 200 exhibits and no impeachment videos, I recommend using the TrialPad for iPad app. It offers a professional looking presentation with multipage views and more functionality in terms of annotations and organization than the free TrialDirector for iPad app. If someone on the trial team is tech-savvy and comfortable troubleshooting technology on the fly, this is a good option. The TrialPad app is a one-time purchase of around $130.
TrialPad cases can be carefully organized to accommodate larger cases. A good consultant can assist in organizing and building a database for such circumstances. You can also edit and load video clips ahead of time as a workaround if you want to use video with TrialPad. While a laptop is best, if the user is most comfortable on an iPad (or it’s the only available resource), a trial technician can make recommendations to make it work.
Here is a good blog that outlines how to use TrialPad.
200+ Exhibits and/or Impeachment Videos
If there are hundreds of exhibits or deposition impeachments, the game changes. Using TrialDirector for iPad or TrialPad for iPad requires scrolling to find what is needed, making it difficult to organize and find exhibits. Beyond that, the slower processor of an iPad isn’t equipped for larger cases and may result in lag time when you try to pull up the exhibits you need. That is why I recommend a laptop-based program with a more robust and professional database for cases with 200+ exhibits and/or impeachment videos.
Two good options for laptop trial presentation software are TrialDirector 360 and OnCue. A robust Windows laptop computer is needed to run these databases. Specs can be found online, or you can ask any trainer or trial consultant. Both have many annotation and video options plus other great features such as:
- Impeachment videos on the fly with or without scrolling text
- Quickly key in and call out any exhibit
- Split screen video with exhibits
- Live call-outs and annotations on exhibits while the deposition is playing
- Show up to 4 documents at a time for comparison
- Bring up documents quickly and efficiently
TrialDirector is a yearly subscription and more user friendly to a beginner. OnCue is a monthly subscription that may take a bit more training for the beginner. Both are stable professional programs. So, it usually comes down to a personal preference. These programs are typically a good option for a professional hot seat operator or courtroom technician to run, but other team members can learn with the right training. Keep in mind, a professional technician will often be more efficient than a member of the team who already has other responsibilities with the trial. Also, a technician will be able to consult on best practices, especially when using a database with many options that a new user may not be aware of.
Keep Courtroom Technology In Mind
The courtroom and its available technology matter in the selection of presentation tools. Some courtrooms have a full, up-to-date system that makes it easy to just plug in. Some courtrooms do not have great Wi-Fi or any audio/video equipment. Worse, some force the utilization of old, outdated systems. It is important to prepare, scout the courtroom and assess your technology needs prior to opening statements so everything can run smoothly. If unsure on what’s available in the jurisdiction, or how to connect, contact a professional trial consultant technician for assistance.
Contact Complete Legal for a Free Consultation
If you are going to trial and researching presentation options, contact Complete Legal for a free consultation. We offer training, database building, video editing, syncing to transcript, graphics and consultation on all matters related to trial presentations.