Effective trial attorneys know how storytelling aids can play a major role in supporting an argument in the courtroom. Recent technology has made these tools more convenient, portable and affordable.
Mike Ko, owner of Groundworks Trial Consulting, has been operating technology at trials since 2008. As a professor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, he frequently demonstrates the power of presentation technology to his students.
Recently, I asked Ko for his short list of technology aids that any attorney can use to improve trial presentations. In no particular order, these are some of Ko’s must-haves that won’t break the bank.
1. Dropbox account
“Cloud storage is one convenient resource for getting files to local storage on your mobile device, so they can be loaded into whatever app you’re presenting on. A free Dropbox account typically has enough storage for a handful of active cases at a time.”
2. Trial presentation apps
“A few eDiscovery softwares come with their own trial presentation apps, or have a presentation mode built in. (Editor’s Note: Nextpoint Prep, the software Ko teaches on at Chicago-Kent, runs on all major browsers). This is functionality that users sometimes don’t even know they have.
“If your eDiscovery software doesn’t do trial presentation, but you do have an iPad, check out TrialPad. Prices have gone up quite a bit over the years, but it’s still a value. The limitation is that there’s no Android or browser-based version.”
3. A mouse that works on glass
“Many federal and state courthouses have glass counsel tables. Most popular mouses don’t work on glass, because the reflective surface doesn’t jibe well with their optical tracking technology. An ‘air mouse’ that isn’t limited by the surface it rests on—like Logitech’s Anywhere MX—is a more versatile tool that can prove to be a great investment.”
4. A remote presenter
“If your presentation includes slides, it may be more effective to control it remotely rather than being tethered to a computer. I prefer remotes with USB receivers for more universal reliability. For illustrative purposes, it’s also nice to have an integrated laser pointer.”
5. USB thumb drive
“I generally just keep a handful of these around that hold 4-8GB, and can be treated as disposable. They’re very handy when working in teams with large files—especially when the only internet you have is a MiFi (mobile hotspot).”
6. Adobe Acrobat DC
“The full version of Acrobat is useful for all aspects of litigation, including Bates stamping, electronic signatures, rearranging/combining pages in a document, or applying exhibit stickers. There is a free version available, but some of the aforementioned tasks can’t be done with the free version.”
7. Laser pointers
“I usually use the one in the remote presenter, but I also bring a handful of these to trial. Sometimes, you may also want to give one to the witness. And they get lost.”
8. A wireless hotspot
“I don’t usually need one, as I can typically tether from my phone. But they’re useful if your team frequently spends a lot of time in courtrooms that don’t have internet access.”
Want to draft more memorable and convincing trial arguments? Check out our post on the science behind better trial presentations.