Updated: Jul 9, 2019
Tired of working overtime the week before trial? Those days are over. Follow the seven tips below and discover just how easy the days leading up to trial could be.
Trial preparation begins on day one
The more organized you are at the outset of the case, the easier trial prep will be. As the case progresses, keep a running chronology of facts for easy reference. Microsoft Excel is a great way to do this because you can sort the columns by date, name, or whatever category you want. You can also compile different sheets in the same workbook so all your information is available in the same place.
You should Bates Number incoming documents that could become trial exhibits, and keep track of pleadings, discovery and witness information. Summarize incoming deposition transcripts as well as case law that is applicable to the case.
Check the local court rules
Each court has a different set of rules and deadlines for submitting pre-trial memos, witness/exhibit lists, and trial exhibits. The rules also vary for numbering and presenting exhibits - some courts prefer 3-ring binders while others require spiral or comb binding. Don’t allow the evidence to be excluded for failure to meet the deadline or adhere to the correct format. Once you know which format the court wants, you’ll need to have a complete copy of the exhibits for your attorney, for the court and for the opposing attorney. Outsource the exhibit printing to a litigation support vendor to save time.
Subpoena the witnesses early
As soon as the trial date is set, issue subpoenas to the witnesses who will need to testify at trial. You can always cancel if the testimony becomes unnecessary at a later date. Too many witnesses to keep track of? You can outsource this task to a litigation support vendor.
Remember to set up a time with the witnesses to review their testimony close to the trial date so the details will be fresh in their minds.
Know the prospective jurors
Dig up dirt on each prospective juror from credit bureaus, tax records, civil and criminal searches and voter registration records. You’ll be able to find out the juror’s age, occupation, political affiliation, and use this information to determine whether or not the juror is being truthful during voir dire. You can purchase a report with detailed juror information from a litigation support company that specializes in this service.
Plan and set up the war room
Your team will need a place to strategize before each court session. You’ll want to be able to call the office, make photocopies of last minute exhibits and have access to an internet connection for legal research. Physical needs are also important, so don’t forget about food and beverages to power your team through those late night sessions. Get with a trial concierge company that can find the right location to meet your needs.
Determine how to best present the evidence to the jury
Today’s juror has a limited attention span. Evidence that is thoughtfully presented by the use of graphics, PowerPoint presentations, video segments, or 3D animation will have much more of an impact. A trial graphics company can assist you with getting your evidence in the best viewable condition. Ensure that the courtroom has the necessary equipment, such as screens, projectors, cables, connectors, internet connections, etc. If not, you’ll need to bring your own equipment or rent it. Consider hiring a technology assistant from a litigation services company that will be able to fix any logistical errors during trial.
Conduct a mock trial
A test run will put your witnesses at ease, solidify your attorney’s arguments and help everything run more smoothly at the actual trial. Investing a little extra time for practice could pay off in a big way.