This is one of those stories you simply cannot make up.
We were using technology to get some ideas about technology. That is, we were surfing around the internet to find descriptions of the successful use of technology in litigation. Our eyes grew weary as we scrolled from screen to screen. There was a lot of same-old-same-old. Then we found an article in the Legal Times from 2005 entitled, “Jurors, Watch the Screen.” You can see the article here. Even as far back as 2005 it was becoming clear that one could use snazzy technology without suffering from the Goliath effect – the perception that your client must have deep pockets. After all, both sides at trials and depositions were using PowerPoints, videos, and arresting graphics. Jurors had come to understand that anyone with a laptop could put on a multi-media show. (Lawyers used to talk about a trial-in-a-box. But by 2005, we went up against a plaintiff lawyer who had a trial-in-a-laptop. He was smooth. He was impressive. He lost.)
The Legal Times article emphasized that however powerful the technology might be, lawyers still needed to ensure that presentations were tight and concise. By being focused, presentations could ensure that jurors were properly focused. Remember the old days when we handed binders with tabbed sections to jurors? We would tell them to turn to specific sections at specific times. But who knows what sections of the binders the jurors were actually looking at while we were conducting our examinations or rendering marvelous perorations? By contrast, placing video screens in front of jurors (hence, the title of the article), lawyers could exercise much more control over what the jurors were seeing. By using technology shrewdly, lawyers can get jurors’ attention, help them understand the story, and make them remember it. Moreover, proper use of technology moved the case along more quickly. Jurors like that. So do judges.
A lot of this stuff is old hat by now. But that 11 year old article had a couple of suggestions that are helpful and interesting to us even now. For example, one lawyer made sure to take pictures of expert witnesses wearing the same clothes they would wear while testifying. Then, in the closing argument, the lawyer could put up the pictures while going over the expert opinions, making it a little bit easier for the jurors to recall the expert and recall the relevant testimony. Another lawyer contested an arbitration in front of three panelists. Instead of passing out the dreaded notebooks, the lawyer gave each arbitrator a laptop computer loaded with briefs, as well as hyperlinks to videos, photographs, depositions, graphics, and animations. That is a smart move.
Most of the war stories in the article came from lawyers at Hogan (then Hogan & Hartson, now Hogan Lovells). That is no surprise. After all, the authors of the article were both from Hogan. But here comes something that might be a little surprising (and now we feel as if we are doing one of those old Paul Harvey “That’s the Rest of the Story” radio bits). One of the authors was Alvin Lindsay, a partner in Hogan’s Miami office. The other author was the firm’s litigation technology manager. His name? Khizr Khan. If you were watching the screen during the recent Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago, you probably saw him. He likely got your attention. We bet you did not forget him.