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Emergency Roadside Kit for Trial Lawyers

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 22, 2017 1:02 PM

It may sound like a tool for ambulance chasers, but actually an emergency roadside kit for trial lawyers is a good idea.

There's nothing as rookie as having to borrow a pen from the bailiff or a notepad from the clerk in the middle of a trial. It's not a good look to have your tablet or computer -- with all your files and research -- run out of battery power in the middle of a presentation.

For those days on the litigation road, may we suggest a few things to put in your emergency roadside kit?

The Briefcase

Old school or new, the legal briefcase is a must-have for packing your roadside kit. Style is so personal, we'll leave that subject alone.

But you gotta have enough room for these essentials: a laptop or tablet; a notepad or two; a trial book; digital assistant; charger and power cord.

We're not talking about room for deposition transcripts, discovery responses, client files, or documents that can be scanned or accessed via the internet. Your computer, i.e. laptop, tablet, or digital assistant, should have the capacity to store that information or the connectivity to retrieve it. Here are 42 apps for that.

Laptop, Tablet, Digital Assistant

Many lawyers these days walk into court with half-sized tablets, or maybe only a cell phone, apparently comfortable with the handyman version of trial kits. But half of those guys have also dropped their devices, often shattering screens and evoking screams for their failure to ensure a $700 phone or $1,200 tablet.

This just in: a briefcase can cost less that a cell phone case. So save the monthly insurance premium and deductible and put your portable devices in a briefcase. You're going to need it for the other essentials anyway.

The phone, which can double as a digital assistant with a calendar, calculator and recorder, ought to go in your pocket or purse. But get a device -- like a laptop or tablet -- with a larger screen for reading documents in the courtroom. You're eyesight will last longer and you won't look like a teenager on Snapchat.

Trial Book, Notepad, and Low Tech

Trial books, notepads, pens, and other low-tech tools may be yesterday's technologies, but they are as important to trial lawyering as history is to modern times. We need them, especially when hi-tech fails.

Whether it's dead batteries, dead cell zones or inaccessible wi-fi, a technical difficulty can become the emergency that makes low-tech tools so necessary. Better have pockets in your briefcase for a stapler, sticky notes, pen, and paperclips, too.

And always have your trial book close when going to a trial proceeding. It should be a roadmap to trial to keep you from getting lost. A trial brief; outlines for voir dire, opening, closing and witness examination; references to exhibits, depositions, relevant discovery responses and jury instructions should be part of the book.

Even if you think your trial won't go that day, just imagine the judge calls you into chambers and throws out an issue that could terminate your case right there -- and all you have is a cell phone?

"I'd like to use a lifeline, Regis?"

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