1. Attorneys are notorious for failing to clue in the trial technician. After all, they are bred to be untrustworthy because source leaks of critical document information could ruin his case and an attorney is very protective of his interests by nature, especially before a trial. You have to establish a rapport This can not be done at trial – it has to be established weeks in advance.
2. You should have a cost schedule prior to trial. Do you have a sufficient budget for to present the “story”?
3. As is often said "you don't get a second chance to make a first impression." Make sure your keyboard shortcuts are memorized and that you have an uncluttered desk space at trial.
4. Make sure that your name was included on the Order from the Judge to allow you to bring in electronic equipment. Doubly ensure that all attorneys and necessary technicians are also on the order. This makes bringing in the equipment easier with multiple people allowed to enter carrying equipment and ensures there is no last minute delay.
5. Using PowerPoint: Almost anyone can prepare a slide in PowerPoint, but making the right choices to win over your jury is much more difficult. There is a difference between being only technically accurate and having the ability to layout a graphic that is persuasive, pleasant to view, and clearly presents the facts.
6. You should visit the courtroom before the trial begins. Often litigators learn too late that a courtroom is too small for a standard projector and they have no place to store boxes overnight. This will entail making frequent trips with all your equipment and material if you have not spoken to the court clerk about in-house storage. If you press hard enough, you will find a broom closet for that easel and projector. It may not be a locked room but if it is inside the court room the court may be locked over-night. If it does have a locked door, make sure you ask for those who have the key.
7. Failure to test graphics in advance: You don’t want to find out during the trial that your graphics or your equipment are incompatible with the courtroom setup or are ineffective. As any qualified jury expert will tell you juries rely on more on what they see than what they hear, roughly by a factor of 2:1.
8. Failure to understand your judge: There are many good ways to research a judge, some of which we have detailed in a popular article. You simply must understand how he or she decides things. In the court nearest me, there are judges who will not tolerate trial technology of any sort, and there are judges who get annoyed when you don't use it. In either case, showing the same graphic too many times diminishes its effectiveness. The Judge will want to know why, if the Jury saw the graphic previously, we are reviewing it again.
9. Going nuts during trial preparation: The single worst thing that can go wrong is when the leader loses his or her cool close to trial when anxiety is at its highest. Not getting enough sleep, high anxiety, millions of dollars at stake, and a bad temper do not make a good combination.
10. Failing to brainstorm what could go wrong: Plan for the worst and expect the best. Are there hand held exhibits? Make sure they are all in numerical order by Exhibit Number. The moment they are called you want to be able to grab the right exhibit without having to cross-reference a Bates Number to an Exhibit Number to locate the correct document.