Saturday Feb 04, 2023

The Hotseat: 5 Considerations When Hiring A Trial Technician – JD Supra


A “hotseater,” or trial technician, will allow you to focus on delivering a winning argument by taking care of the technical aspects of trial presentation.

You can’t practice law without a legitimate license, and you can’t go to trial without a compelling presentation. But how do you find time to put slides and documents together? And what happens when the computer conks out? And who can make those inevitable last-minute changes to the presentation?

Those are all excellent reasons to seek out an experienced and professional trial technician, more commonly known as a hot-seat operator or “hotseater.” They take all the stress off your shoulders so you can focus on arguing the merits of your case.

Here are 5 tips and “best practices” to keep in mind when working with a “hotseater” for your next hearing or trial:

1. When Do You Need a Hotseater?

Your job is to be persuasive, and the hotseater’s job is to make sure your points are dynamically presented in the clearest detail, all without a hitch. Don’t make the mistake of trying to do this on your own or pawning it off on someone less experienced – this is a critical component of your trial that requires the skill and finesse of a professional.

Technology should not be an afterthought because when it’s done correctly, it can help keep the attention of your audience on what you want them to remember. Think about how an image, graphic, or animation can support a point you need to make, and the hotseater will do their best to make it happen.

For example, you might set up an easel in the courtroom to hold a large timeline on foam board, but it might be difficult to read. It can be much more impactful if you walk your audience through each event as a build in Microsoft PowerPoint. This helps you break down complex concepts and scenarios into more understandable chunks, and an experienced trial technician can make a big difference.

2. Hire a Professional

Not only can a professional hotseater transform your vision into a reality on screen, they can help provide you with ideas on presenting information, from creating “callouts” on documents to exporting video clips. It may even be something as simple as suggesting that you use a different color on an image to make it stand out and look more professional.

An experienced trial technician will also be comfortable with all the setup and logistics of getting the hardware ready so you don’t have to worry about it. For example, they can determine the necessary cords and extension cables to make sure all hardware is operational, and they’ll tape everything down so you don’t trip while questioning a witness. A hotseater can set up and take down the equipment, confirm all the files are in the proper format, ensure backup plans are in place, run the presentation, and generally make sure everything is working.

See video here.

Nextpoint’s Nick Junneman discusses his work as a professional trial technician and litigation project manager, from the pre-Covid landscape to a new digital world in the legal field.

3. Scope Out the Location

An experienced and professional hotseater knows to scope out the location …….


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