November 13, 2018

It takes a techie (and not a village) to ensure that courtroom technology works – works in terms of functionality, and works in terms of effective presentation.  So it is no surprise that NITA turned to a managing director of a forensic presentation consulting firm to author a comprehensive text on trial presentation technology, software, and ‘nuts and bolts.’  In that regard, THE TRIAL PRESENTATION COMPANION lives up to its promise to be a “step-by-step guide to presenting electronic evidence in the courtroom.”  [I do quibble with the description in one way – the term “electronic evidence” should really apply to evidence that originated in an electronic environment, such as emails, text messages, etc., and not to traditional evidence being portrayed electronically.]”

               Who is well served by this companion?  For the lawyer who will be her own techie, every pitfall in trial presentation is identified along with the appropriate step(s) for prevention or remediation.  And And for every lawyer – tech presenter or tech requester – this is an insider’s guide to the lingua franca of the tech director’s world, a lexicon for terms such as “on the fly,” “layer” and stage.”  And for the non-tech-proficient lawyer, the book is eye-opening regarding all the moving parts of assembling and presenting evidence in an electronic format.

What are some examples?  Learning the benefits of pdf versus tiff formatting for documents; thinking through the simple issue of date and time stamps – do you want the time zone for where the document originated or the zone for where it was received; the difference resulting from a screen ration of 4:3 rather than 16:9; and the occasional reference to resources such as blogs [consider or ITunes’ “Trial Technology and Litigation Support Podcast”].

Nonetheless, I am not convinced that this “companion” is an essential for most lawyers, be they solo practitioners who will handle their own tech needs, members of boutique firms who will hire a presentation specialist, or large firm litigation associates and partners who will have a tech department to hand off the digital/media responsibilities to.  Why?  The depth of the explanations, and their highly technical nature, are the prototypic “TMI” that our children complain about.  Lawyers will do better with an overview of what the technologies offer and a guide on how to use them effectively.  The COMPANION offers some of that, but more in technical terms than in the art of persuasion.

Consider THE TRIAL PRESENTATION COMPANION if you have time and interest in a deep dive into the world, responsibilities and mysteries of technology in the courtroom; or if you know how to read selectively; or buy this for your tech assistant/department.  But look elsewhere if you want to know how best to deploy  technology as one of the tools in the advocate’s arsenal.