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9 Hidden Skills of Trial Technicians and Hotseaters You Never Knew About

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

Trial Technicians, Demonstrative Evidence, Hot Seat Operators, Trial Technology, Trial Director, OnCue

As a trial lawyer or someone working close to one, you may already be familiar with trial technicians and hotseaters. These professionals provide essential technical support during trials, ensuring everything runs smoothly. They usually sit adjacent to counsel's table and run your trial presentation, including the displays of exhibits and demonstrative evidence. However, you may not know that trial technicians and hotseaters possess a host of hidden skills that go beyond their technical capabilities.

Here are some of the hidden skills of trial technicians and hot seaters that you never knew about:

1. They Dress Appropriately

If you are in court, you should dress like you are in court. To me, a lifelong Virginia/DC resident, this means white, blue, or cream shirts, a dark suit, and a conservative tie. Black shirts, light-colored suits, and loosely knotted or holiday-themed ties are a no-go at Persuadius. But each trial team has its own style. It is essential to blend in with your trial team. Good trial techs and hotseaters know this intuitively. They want to avoid making a fashion statement in a courtroom or standing out. They want to blend into the background.

2. Some Trial Technicians Are Designers, But It's Rare

A rare breed of trial technicians or hot-seaters can also create (sophisticated) demonstrative evidence, usually in PowerPoint. These multifaceted individuals typically start as designers and become trial technicians/hot seaters. This is a beneficial talent. They typically cost more per hour because of these individuals' rarity. Still, they allow the trial team to create exhibits mid-trial instead of simply showing documents and doing live callouts.

3. Ability to Multi-Task

During a trial, trial technicians and hotseaters must juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. They must keep track of the exhibits, manage the audiovisual equipment, and coordinate with the legal team, ensuring everything runs smoothly. Their ability to multi-task and stay organized is a valuable asset in the high-pressure environment of a trial.

4. Communication Skills

Trial technicians and hotseaters are excellent communicators. They must be able to communicate effectively with the legal team, the judge, and the jury, all while remaining calm and professional. They are skilled at presenting complex technical information clearly and concisely, making it easy for everyone to understand. See How PowerPoint Failures in Demonstrative Evidence Can Sink a Case

5. Problem-Solving Skills

During a trial, unexpected technical issues can arise at any moment. Trial technicians and hotseaters are experts at problem-solving and troubleshooting. They have the technical knowledge and experience to quickly identify and resolve any issues that may arise, ensuring that the trial proceeds smoothly. See 24 Mistakes That Make For a DeMONSTERative Evidence Nightmare

6. Ability to Stay Calm Under Pressure

The courtroom is a high-pressure environment, and trial technicians and hotseaters are no strangers to this. They are trained to remain calm and composed under pressure, even when faced with unexpected challenges. Their ability to stay calm and focused is essential to ensuring that the trial proceeds smoothly and that the legal team has the support they need.

7. Attention to Detail

Trial technicians and hotseaters have a keen eye for detail. They are responsible for ensuring that all the exhibits and evidence are appropriately labeled, organized, and presented clearly and concisely. They pay attention to every detail, from the formatting of the documents to the color of the highlighter used to mark critical points.

8. Anticipating Your Next Move

The best hot-seaters can almost read your mind. It is not mind reading, but careful preparation with the first chair results in the appearance of two dancers or athletes working in unison. See Why Rapport Between a Trial Lawyer and a Trial Technician is So Important

9. Ability to Work Without Much Sleep

Trial places unique demands on attorneys, paralegals, and trial technicians alike. Although one of my favorite trial lawyers used to say, I never sleep better than when I'm at trial because I know everything's ready to go, most great trial lawyers are not like that. Law school got us all thinking we should cram at the last minute. I tell our trial technicians and hot heaters to make a rule early on in the trial that they need to get sleep and thus need to be in bed by 1 AM or whatever time they prefer.

If you are looking for a trial technician, please contact Persuadius and allow us to perform a conflicts check. If it is too early (it's usually not), you can download the free trial tech and hotseater ebook below.

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