We’re often asked what are the steps involved in getting a great presentation together. What does one do first? There is no shortage of advice so we’ll add another list and tailor it specifically to the litigation.
1. Develop the trial themes.
Aim for four to six. This is where it starts its that simple. Don’t bother moving ahead without doing this, it will waste a terrific amount of time.
2. Get command of every piece of evidence in your case.
Period. Hard to imagine how you move forward without this if you are a lawyer. Somehow this has become acceptable to compromise on. That’s a mistake. Every piece of evidence must be available to be searched at a moment’s notice. This is our Copacabana rule of litigation.
3. Make a slide with each piece of evidence.
Use PowerPoint or Keynote or just cut them up with scissors and paste them on a sheet. The only rule is each piece of evidence can only be on one slide, and each slide and can only contain one piece of evidence. If the evidence requires a lot of setup or a lot of explanation, then the evidence is probably too circumstantial to be useful in court.
Oh and text slides of legal analysis, reasserting the four additional parameters that the evidence does not meet, are not evidence. Documents, deposition testimony, photographs, voicemails. Evidence, not analysis. We see trials with literally millions of pages that come down to 5 documents. This process is meant to figure out which 5 documents you want it to be about.
4. Organize the evidence by the outline
Every item in the story outline from #1 should have at least one slide but probably more from #3 with a piece of evidence on it. Rearrange the deck until its in the order of the story. If there are story lines with no evidence, leave them out, no one will care about stuff that can’t be proven. Like that the plaintiff as a history of mental instability. These make for fun stories over a beer after a late night at work with your cohorts, but that’s about it.
Of course, unless you are skilled enough to get it in. Good lawyering counts for a lot. Then it’s a great slide! This is where great lawyers spend their time, getting good facts for their case into court.
5. Practice out loud
Don’t worry it will be terrible. Don’t do this in public either, do it by yourself where your humilation and anger at the world won’t be seen by others.
6. Cut the bad stuff, keep the good stuff
7. Go back to #4
8. Show up early on game day