Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trial Technology Lifecycle.

The use of trial technology has seen exponential growth over the past few years. Social media and the constant sharing of ideas certainly have assisted to close gaps which existed in the past. It is indeed rare to find the best in breed using last year’s tech in a high stakes trial. However it remains something litigators should be considering when preparing for trial. Certainly some dated technology is still useful but it is always wise to continue investigating proven and industry accepted current tech.

Often budget constraints, busy schedules or just plain ignorance of current tech is the culprit for many case teams. With that foundation in mind many smaller firms turn to a vendor. In theory in order for the vendor to remain competitive they must monitor the technology lifecycle very closely. Unfortunately that is not always the case when retaining a vendor. Very often what is being paid for is indeed dated or obsolete technology.  Therefore it is wise to ask questions, get references and compare the tech being used to the vendor’s competitors.

Years ago I was involved in a two week trial just when trial presentation software had started to take off. Both my case team and opposing counsel were still using document cameras as a crutch. We both retained a vendor to provide us with our own ELMO and projector. Unfortunately the vendor our team hired provided us with outdated tech. The difference between our opponent’s presentation and ours using our respective equipment was glaring. Our images were grainy, dark and just anemic by comparison. By the end of the second day we made an arrangement to split costs with opposing counsel and shared their equipment. Don’t be fooled by fancy sales pitches and slick advertising. Do the legwork and make sure you are getting the best equipment and software to assist with presenting your client’s case.

On the law firm side of things it remains imperative for the litigation support department to be familiar with new technologies and trends. Even if trial presentation remains something which is outsourced case teams often rely on Lit Support for advice on whom and what to use. If Lit Support is involved in trial presentation work then the correct budgetary allotments need to be allocated to insure the firm is not behind the proverbial eight ball. Many practices which settle most of their cases often fall victim to the trial technology lifecycle. When making it to the big stage there is nothing worse than snickering jurors because the tech is outdated, malfunctioning or inoperable. The bottom line is making sure the technology your team is relying on has not been superseded by something more reliable and visually compelling.  To quote McNealy, “Technology has the shelf life of a banana.”

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