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Modern Presentation Tools for The Courtroom: iPads, Apps And The Latest Technology For Legal Presentations
Modern technology has made its way into the courtroom, just as it has in nearly every facet of society. Advanced tools like tablets, specialized programs and apps, as well as video and audio equipment, have revolutionized the way attorneys prepare presentations for trials and other legal proceedings. We’ve put together a brief rundown of some of the tech tools that can help you close the case.
The tablet revolution
Any discussion of technology in the legal field must begin with the iPad. There is really no dismissing the impact that Apple’s tablet has had on our industry since its introduction in 2010. The iPad – along with computer programs and apps that were developed specifically for trial preparation – allows attorneys to give more dynamic, efficient presentations. These tools also allow you to go paperless. There is no need to carry huge folders, files, and banker’s boxes into the courtroom, because everything for your trial can be stored on a laptop or iPad for easy access. Along with trial preparation programs, there have been dozens of other apps developed for legal research, jury selection, social media research, word processing, note taking, dictation, and more.
The tech tools don’t stop there. PowerPoint is still a standard program, but others have upped the game in terms of presentation software, including Apple’s Keynote and Prezi.
In most cases, all of these programs can be used on a laptop and then transferred to an iPad when it’s time to go to trial.
Trial preparation apps
The two leading preparation apps are TrialPad and TrialDirector. Both programs help you organize, manage, search, annotate, and store documents, files, and videos, while leveraging the portability of an iPad. Both tools allow you to find and select any file easily, which mean you can skip from one point in your presentation to another seamlessly. So, if a question comes up later in cross-examination or redirect, you can quickly locate the corresponding file.
Why are these tools so powerful? They allow for more dynamic, seamless, and organized presentations. According to Above The Law, “Complex concepts or case theories can be distilled into demonstratives, such as graphics or animations, that can quickly convey the essence of a case. Technology lets us quickly arrange and rearrange our view of the case file by what each exhibit is relevant to: issue, standard of care, proximate cause, damages, or witness bias.”
Some highlights of TrialPad and TrialDirector capabilities include*:
- Easy document storage, navigation & management
- Callout, laser, highlighting & redacting tools
- Display a section of a transcript for emphasis
- Overlay exhibits for easy comparison (such as comparing handwriting samples)
- Show split screen for side-by-side comparisons
- Bookmark exhibits for quicker access
- A variety of shapes, lines & drawing tools
- Freeform drawing on a virtual whiteboard
- Importing photographs and videos, as well as different types of files, including: JPG, GIF, PNG, TIF, multi-page TIF and TXT, DOCX, XLS, PPT, Keynote, Pages & Numbers
Projectors, screens and audio equipment
All the technology in the world won’t help if you don’t have the right equipment to display your presentation. Start by choosing a good LCD projector, as they produce the best picture quality. They can also be set to full brightness or dimmed to show darker colors, contrast or shadows according to the lighting conditions in the courtroom. If possible, choose a projector with a wide-screen (16:9) format, as the standard format (4:3) will leave you with a blank space at the top and bottom of the screen. Another good idea to consider is a short-throw lens, which will allow you to place the projector closer to the screen. This way, you can avoid walking in front of the projector and possibly causing a distraction.
You also need a good screen in order to display your presentation. These days, many courtrooms are equipped with built-in screens, but check the size, as they might not be big enough. You want at least a 7-8 foot screen. There are types in which the screen is stored inside a tube. The screen is pulled up from the tube so there is no need for a separate tripod or stand.
Often courtrooms will have a TV monitor rather than a screen. These are generally not big enough to be viewed very well in a large courtroom, however they do have the advantage of showing color and clarity better than a white screen. If you will be using a TV monitor, consider setting up individual monitors for the judge, jury and at the counsel tables. This ensures everyone has a good view of crucial evidence. According to Trial- Technology.com, “The added benefit is that this system may be used to preview evidence before it has been admitted into evidence, leaving the projector off. Once an exhibit has been admitted, the projector is then turned on for the jury.”
Lastly, make sure you have good external speakers if you are using video evidence or testimony. The sound will not be adequate if you rely only on a laptop or iPad.
These are just some of the latest tools available, which can enhance your legal presentations. Explore your options to ensure you are incorporating them into your trial prep so you can really make your case.
*Note: Not all features are available with both apps