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15 Conversations to Have BEFORE You Hire Your Trial Technician

Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.
By: Kenneth J. Lopez, J.D.

Trial Graphics, Trial Technicians, Trial Consultants, Trial Presentation, Trial Consulting, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Trial Preparation, PowerPoint, Trial Director, OnCue

In the high-stakes world of trial presentations, hiring the right trial technician or hot seater can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. These are not usually your Litigation Graphics experts (see Why Trial Tech ≠ Litigation Graphics). Before making this crucial decision, it's important to have 15 key conversations with potential candidates to ensure they have the skills, experience, and demeanor necessary to support your legal team effectively.

From discussing their technical expertise and familiarity with courtroom procedures to assessing their ability to handle high-pressure situations and work collaboratively with your attorneys, these conversations are essential in finding the perfect fit for your trial team. By taking the time to thoroughly vet and communicate with potential trial technicians or hot seaters, you can feel confident in your decision and maximize your chances of success in the courtroom.

To pinpoint the perfect match for your team, here are 15 key conversations that should be had, presented in no specific order.:

1. Availability: Finding the right trial technician or hot seater can be daunting, with availability often serving as the biggest challenge. The top professionals in this field are typically booked months in advance, making it crucial to plan ahead and secure their services well in advance. When time is of the essence, turning to a reputable firm like Persuadius can be invaluable, as we have a wide network of experienced trial technicians ready to support your legal team at a moment's notice. By tapping into our resources, you can ensure that you have access to a pool of highly skilled professionals who can help you navigate the complexities of trial presentations with confidence and expertise. See Good Luck Finding a (Good) Trial Technician in May or October.

2. Local:  Finding a local trial technician is often a top priority for most trial teams — often inexplicably so, as far as I'm concerned. The convenience of having them nearby can be helpful, allowing for seamless communication and collaboration. But for less than the cost of one hour of your time, you can have them in the hotel where your war room is located. While it's important to prioritize skill and expertise over proximity, having a local trial technician can offer added benefits, such as being readily available for on-site support and minimizing logistical challenges. They might also have experience in the courthouse where your trial will be held. Sometimes, they might even know the clerk, which can be truly helpful.

3. Zoom meeting: Before stepping into the courtroom, connecting with your trial technician through a Zoom meeting is essential. This initial interaction allows you to gauge their compatibility with your team and ensure they align with the image you aim to portray. Establishing a good fit with them is crucial as they become an integral part of your legal team.

4. Conflicts: Naturally, it's essential to cover the essentials, such as identifying any conflicts. Although trial technician conflicts differ from those of attorneys, it's crucial to ascertain if they have previously worked with opposing counsel or represented the opposing client.

5. Experience: You will want to know about their experience and whether they've worked on a trial like yours. Do they mostly work with small plaintiff firms or large defense firms? Do they mostly work on short trials—or two-day trials, or do they work on months-long trials? 

6. Working both sides: Collaboration and teamwork are essential components of a successful trial presentation, and having a dedicated trial technician or hot seater can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your legal team. While it may occasionally happen, sharing a single trial technician between both parties is generally not recommended. This practice can lead to conflicts of interest, compromised confidentiality, and potential bias in presenting evidence.

7. Document intensity: Is this a case with 1,000 documents or 1 million documents? What has been their experience working in both types of cases? Furthermore, are there video depositions to be synced? How many clips are you looking to generate? A dozen or a couple of hundred?

8. Redundancy: What is your plan if something goes wrong with your primary laptop? Great trial technicians will answer this quickly and without pause—the same way they will answer it in the courtroom. Similarly, what is the plan if they get sick?

9. Software: I don't think it matters much, but sometimes it does. You'll want to know what software they are using for trial presentations. Generally, two options are OnCue or Trial Director, which are supplemented by PowerPoint.

10. Cost/hr: Hourly rates can vary significantly in the trial technician industry. While some professionals may charge as low as $100 per hour, others may demand upwards of $500 per hour. At Persuadius, our rates typically fall between $150 and $250 per hour, ensuring quality service at a competitive price point.

11. Per diem: It's a given that the trial team will cover expenses for local travel and meals, making this an effortless topic to discuss.

12. Daily hours: Many trial technicians typically provide a daily rate, encompassing a set number of hours as a minimum and often packaged for convenience. It's worthwhile to delve into this topic during discussions with potential candidates.

13. Weekend hours: When your trial stretches over one or more weekends, trial technicians usually have a defined schedule for weekend work that they bill for. This can range from charging based on their hourly rate to setting a minimum fee for weekend hours.

14. Cut-off times: Seasoned trial technicians typically establish a flexible but respected nightly cut-off for their work. They prioritize being sharp and focused in the courtroom and understand the importance of getting sufficient hours of rest each night.

15. Are they with Persuadius?: While it may sound like shameless self-promotion, rest assured it's not. Our team members are rigorously vetted and have earned recognition as top hot-seaters nationwide. In fact, we've even authored a comprehensive guide on this subject! Check out the Litigators Guide to Trial Technicians and Trial Technology below for more insights. We have a new version that we are about to launch by the end of June. Subscribe to our blog to be one of the first to see it.

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