Trial Preparation: The Other Checklist

When it comes to trial preparation, we’re all familiar with the famous “100 Days Before Trial” checklists that tell us what documents have to be filed by certain dates, when information exchanges have to take place, making sure trial binders are put together, etc.  However, there is another checklist you need to make sure is in your trial toolbox that will ensure you and your trial team have all the logistical and finer details covered.  Your team will appreciate you taking the lead and being proactive in handling these tasks so that they can focus on the bigger picture and trial strategy.

Meeting with Clients – Set up a meeting with the trial team and the clients to go over expectations, pros and cons, costs, and all available options.

Begin Booking Offices and Accommodations – Hotel room blocks.  Who needs accommodations? (All attorneys? Support staff? Clients? Witnesses/Expert Witnesses? Vendors?) Do you need a “war room” at the hotel or at the local court reporter’s office? Do you need meeting rooms? Can local counsel assist with meeting rooms?

Will everyone need to be there the entire duration of trial?

Remember, cases settle, so make sure any reservations can be canceled without penalty, if possible.

How close are the accommodations to the courthouse?

Do you need to arrange transportation (i.e., to the trial city, to and from the airport, to and from the courthouse, etc., do witnesses need to be picked up and brought to the courthouse or other location, etc.?)

What Vendors Will Be Needed – Printing companies for exhibit preparation (posters, display boards, photo reproduction, document reproduction, etc. – – use local company and transport to trial? Is there a company near the trial location in the event of additional needs or damage to originals?), audio-visual tech/assistance for A/V presentations during trial (reputable, has trial experience, willing to travel or use vendor in trial location?), court reporter (is there a court reporting agency at the trial location with the most updated technology – real-time reporting, dailies deliveries, etc., or do you need to arrange for a reporting agency with those capabilities that can travel?). Are your vendors willing to be on call for the duration of the trial?

A/V Equipment – Who is using it/running it? Is it your own equipment or rental equipment? Does the person who will be using it have experience doing so? What tech support does the court have available? Don’t set yourself up for surprises – – DO A PRACTICE RUN BEFORE THE START OF TRIAL. Have a tech on standby to assist or consider hiring a trial tech vendor.

Meals – Do meals need to be arranged for the trial team, for meetings, for clients/witnesses, juries? What restaurant/market options are near the courthouse and the hotel? Can you arrange for an Instacart or grocery delivery to the hotel for items such as bottled water, non-perishable snacks, fruit, etc.?

Is There an Office Supply Business Near the Hotel or Courthouse – Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, etc., where office supplies can be readily purchased if need be?

Mail/Overnight Delivery Services – Is the trial being held in a remote location? Is there overnight delivery available in the event something needs to be expedited to the trial team?

The Courthouse – Has anyone on your trial team been to the assigned courthouse/department before, or is this a new location for them? Where are the electrical outlets in the assigned courtroom for purposes of plugging in A/V equipment, laptops, etc.? Do you need extension cords, extra batteries? Does the court have “dark days” or half-days?

Consider Using a Shared Project Management Software Platform for the Trial Team – Such as Trello or a similar program that allows team members to update tasks, assign new tasks, track status, enter completed items, etc.

Create a Trial Contacts List and a Witness Contact List for the Trial Team – Make sure the information is accurate and the contacts on each list are notified that they should be prepared to receive calls/texts/emails from the trial team at any time during the duration of the trial. This list is a LIFESAVER!

Last But Not Least – Prepare for the unexpected and be ready to adapt to changes in trial.


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