3 Tips for Trial Preparation and Successful War Room Organization
Trial preparation is a team effort. Your team needs a place to gather and truly collaborate. That means setting up what is known as a “war room,” a place where the team can prepare for the battle of trial.
We all wish there were a blueprint for setting up the perfect war room. The truth is, there are tons of ways to physically set-up a war room. A successful war room meets all your needs, so base your war room arrangement on your trial needs and available resources.
1. Choose the best site for your trial preparation
Transportation and location are equally important when choosing the ideal war room. The functionality of the war room will determine the most logical location. Conference rooms offer a temporary location, equipped for day-to-day activities. Suites and hotel rooms are more permanent but will have more limited equipment. Local attorney offices are a wonderful option for semi-permanent war rooms, already equipped with materials and tools. Factor in the proximity to the courthouse if circumstances allow.
Balancing the need for space with the economics and cost of the war room is important. The amount of space will shape the way you build the functionality. You need to consider everything that makes the space a good place to collaborate for the legal team. Having a well-organized space is essential.
The functionality of your war room will provide adequate space for everyone to work and allow room for all your equipment. This is the space where the legal team will conduct trial preparation, including preparing documents and witnesses, strategizing, practicing, and even sharing working meals.
Your technology needs for your war room depend on many different factors. What equipment do you use to prepare for trial? Who will run it?? Will you take or rent everything you need for trial? And will you need it to practice?? Do you hire a professional vendor to handle your high-tech needs? Is someone on the trial team technology savvy who can handle high-tech needs or assist if there is an issue with trial equipment or a computer glitch?
Research via Local Resources and Vendors
Finding the right space for your war room may be as simple as asking around. First, reach out to your trusted local vendors, such as courier services, court reporters, videographers, interpreters, special process servers, trial consultants, etc. Vendors are often excited to trade referrals and they’d be happy to help.
Local Paralegal organizations is another good place to explore reputable vendors. Most paralegal organization publicize their sponsors and vendors on their website.
Both choices will give you names of reputable vendors in your trial area. Competitive pricing is attractive, but trial is not the time to learn you get what you pay for the hard way. Here’s a list of paralegal organizations to start with.
- National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)
- Kansas Paralegal Association (KPA)
- Kansas City Paralegal Association (KCPA)
- Heartland Paralegal Association
- Missouri Paralegal Association (MPA)
- St. Louis Paralegal Association (STLPA)
- Kansas Association of Legal Assistance (KALA)
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA)
2. Prepare and set up for your war room
Setting up your pre-trial war room involves a lot more than counting workers and providing desk space. You will need workstations similar to your home office, as well as a large conference area with seating. All the necessary office supplies take up space, too.
Orienting your war room around your technology needs will save you hassle and frustration. Being able to know that the right chords are where you need them and can reach the outlets means you can focus your efforts on using your software to do what you need to do—prepare for trial. This includes external hard drives, in the event of crashes.
The legal team is going to spend a lot of time in the war room, so the amenities of a good restaurant and the amenities of home will go a long way to helping them stay focused.
Here is a quick checklist of everything to keep in your war room:
- Contact List: Your list would include the full name, address, phone number(s), and email address of everyone involved in the case. Require at least one alternate contact for each person on your list.
- Court Information: This means the physical location of the courthouse, security clearances, parking, overflow parking, division email, diagram of the courtroom, important phone numbers, name of the Judge, Judge’s Clerk, Court Reporter, Division Number. Do not forget to inquire what number your case is on the Judge’s docket.
- Logins and passwords: Display the passwords and clear login instructions for Efiling/eServing, remote server access to the firm’s network, internet; efax, and other key softwares and programs.
- Supplies: Spend time thinking about supplies you may need during your trial preparation and create a checklist. Every item, every resource you acquire for trial should include a reference of how this item made its way into your possession. (brought from office) (rental) (borrowed) (new item purchase) (included with accommodations). This step will make the redistribution of trial supplies seamless and without loose ends.
- Furniture and Workstations: Easily transportable work stations and furniture will help you ramp up your pre-trial efforts right away. Find out if they are included in your accommodations.
- Vendor Information: Categorize a list of vendors from 24-hour eateries to dry cleaners to trial consultants. Remember the old saying, “Something you forget at the start will be the one thing you need in a moment’s notice.” Defuse all possible issue with your preparedness.
3. Make the space adaptable to face last-minute challenges
Before trial begins, organize your thoughts and answers to the following questions.
How will you transport trial aids and exhibits between the war room and the courtroom? Will you be permitted to store your trial equipment in the courtroom before and during the trial? Are you required to make arrangements with security before you can bring in outside equipment and larger exhibits? Are there rules of the court or the judge that would limit how and when you will be permitted to use your visual aid? Will you need assistance moving or operating the visual aids?
If you’re facing a trial, you need a team that knows how to set up a war room for the best trial preparation possible. You can learn more about the results Brown and Crouppen has achieved for our clients with our approach here.