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There are many types of litigation support available to trial attorneys, and they are generally used in preparation for large-scale and complex trials. Support services can involve document management and specialized software for electronic files. Paralegals often summarize and index depositions and reports, as well as information submitted by an opposing party. Attorneys often utilize support services that provide mock trials and focus groups to gauge potential jury response to a case. Support services can also include preparation of legal documents, such as motions and briefs.
In complex litigation, the volume of paper and information can be enormous. Litigation support professionals help organize it into a coherent form and retrieve only the information most valuable to the case. They can prepare a timeline of all the critical events in the case. Information technology specialists use data analytics to retrieve only relevant information from documents. Support specialists also aid in preparing and responding to “discovery,” requests for information between the parties and an ongoing process up to the trial stage.
Demonstrative evidence, things like pictures, charts and graphs used as exhibits, are an important part of trial presentation. Exhibits must be interesting, easy to follow, and make an important point about the case. Litigation support includes creating graphics that help explain the theory or the “story” of a case.
The theory of a case explains what happened, who was right or wrong, and why. It is especially important in a jury trial. Litigation support often includes the use of focus groups and mock trails. A focus group acts as a sort of stand-in for a jury. The lawyers get a chance to present their evidence, make arguments, and poll the group on their reactions to a mock trial of the case.
Focus groups can help lawyers evaluate the strength and weaknesses of their case. It may also help in deciding whether to waive a jury trial and try the case before a judge instead. Insightful jury selection is crucial in a trial. Support specialists aid attorneys by creating profiles of the type of juror that would be most sympathetic to their case theory. Jury specialists are often sociologists and psychologists.
Litigation support does not end with the trial. Support staff and paralegals often help with the drafting of post-trial motions. These motions allege errors that occurred in court rulings or procedures. They also preserve these issues for any appeal. Trial lawyers in complex litigation cases often rely on attorneys who specialize in appeals to prepare briefs and make oral arguments in the appeals court.
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