Categories: Legal Technology

At Trial, Don’t Leave Technology Behind: The Trial Consulting Paralegal


Written by a Paralegal

Reprinted with permission from the June 22, 2009 issue of The Legal Intelligencer. © 2009 Incisive Media US Properties, LLC.  Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.

By including this article in TASA's Knowledge Center, TASA is not endorsing the products mentioned below.  The article's content is provided in an educational context and appears as part of a forum for legal professionals.  

You know you're ready for trial when you have two boxes of trial binders, work copy of records, note pads, pens, and ten extra large trial boards. As you jump on the elevator with trial boards in one hand and your entire case on a pull cart next to you, you wonder, "Do I have everything?"  If it were 1999, the answer would be yes. In 2009, dragging voluminous numbers of records and multiple trial boards to court is a thing of the past.

Since the emergence of state and federal courts requesting electronic filings, cases have become electronic as well. In some courts, the use of large amounts of paper during trial has declined dramatically. With the introduction of TrialDirector by InData, attorneys and paralegals have been given the opportunity to take vital case documents and turn them into electronic demonstrations.

InData TrialDirector is a tool that can work with any database. Once you have downloaded your case documents into the document director, you can begin your journey with TrialDirector. You will have no problems loading documents from software such as CT Summation or LexisNexis Concordance. Your firm can also download your Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. All PowerPoint presentations, including bar graphs, time lines and photos are compatible with this program. 

When it comes to video depositions, TrialDirector can take your video and add a rolling text. As the deposition is on the TV screen, the rolling text is allowing everyone in the courtroom to follow along. Another very popular tool is the "side by side comparison." This feature makes your deposition or document come alive when it comes to cross examination or pointing out inconsistencies in the deponent's deposition. If you want to show more than one document on screen at a time, TrialDirector  allows you to have more than six zones on your screen at once. You can play a video deposition while at the same time showing the judge and juror the exhibits relating to the testimony. Don't forget that during this presentation, the bottom of the screen shows photos or any other documents you desire. This gives the court a better understanding of the testimony or document being described.

As for paper documents, you will be able to enlarge, highlight and create call outs. With the feature "call outs," a muddled document or very illegible document becomes clear and concise. The call out button allows you to enlarge any section of your document, while still leaving the original document in the background. Call outs can be turned into different shapes and any color. If you need to add something extra, don't forget to use a color graphic. For example, if you have a document with 50 lines of unnecessary information, you can call out or enlarge the one line that it vital to your case. This feature gives the judge and jurors an opportunity to follow along and not get lost within the total document. 

With TrialDirector you can also load audio clips. Imagine, having a taped phone conversation, but the sounds may be distorted or one of the people on the line is speaking too fast. With Trial- Director's rolling text feature, the bottom screen will have text of the entire audio. This allows everyone to follow along easily. 

TrialDirector has also put a new spin on media. This program pulls up your media in a flash and shows your 3D animation and QuickTime video to the court. The animation capabilities outshine other programs. The video graphics are clear, and the animation can turn boring photos into a movie reel.  

Years ago when InData introduced TrialDirector, firms had no idea how big electronic trial consulting would become. Some trial consultants believe that TrialDirector brings your case from concept to creation. With the emergence of laptops, computers, BlackBerry® smartphones and other devices to store electronic information, it becomes clear that the fear of the machine is diminishing. 

TrialDirector not only saves time before trial but also saves your client money.  Any legal professional knows that before you make it to trial, you have numerous court meetings to show your case. From arbitration, mediation, certification hearings and settlement conferences, you will have ample opportunity to use TrialDirector. This program is appropriate for any venue. 

So, where do paralegals fit with TrialDirector? Paralegals will gather all of the case documents and have them loaded for the program. Trial consultants will train and provide instruction to the paralegal. Trial consultants teach paralegals how to work the document director, how to use multiple features and how to print from TrialDirector. The trial consulting paralegal will have a starring role in the movie known as "Trial." 

For the firm that does not have paralegals, trial consultants provide support for any court appearance. They also come to your firm and teach attorneys how to prepare the case. If the attorney feels uncomfortable working the program, bar coding has been implemented to take away any uneasiness. While the attorney is discussing the case, he or she can point the small device to the bar code and the document appears on the screen.

Whether preparing for court or a meeting with your client, TrialDirector brings clarity to your case. With Trial Director your files can be transformed into an electronic map to lead the judge and jurors down an easy path to understanding your case.   

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal, medical, or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional. 

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of Incisive Media US Properties, LLC.  

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