Featured Pro: Thomas H. "Tom" Vidal

Since TrialPad first came out, today’s Featured Pro, Tom Vidal, has used it for jury trials at both State and Federal levels. The first time he pulled his iPad out in a courtroom, his opponent was using an Elmo document viewer connected to the court’s audiovisual system. Tom connected his Apple TV to the same courtroom audiovisual system, and the stage was set. Using the iPad and TrialPad was a first for him that day. He had practiced, tested ahead of time, and was prepared, but with a judge and jury in the room, there would be a moment of truth. And when that moment of truth had gone, Tom told us that it “could not have gone better as a communication and presentation tool.” The presentation had been seamless, and Tom was hooked. Meanwhile, the “failproof” Elmo wouldn’t focus on the documents properly, and Tom’s opponent was even criticized by the judge because of it. 

That trial set the stage for many more to come, and for a shift in the way Tom prepared his cases for trial as well. Here are a couple of ways Tom uses LIT SOFTWARE apps to organize, prepare, and present his cases:

  1. Organizing in TrialPad: To begin with, he puts every potential piece of evidence in TrialPad. Then, he creates folders in KeyDocs for each witness, and starts to add documents as he creates his witness examination outlines. He told us that our apps have “revolutionized the ability to get things done, and have enabled (him) to easily find an access all key case documents and materials.”
     
  2. Wireless presentation: As much as he can, Tom presents wirelessly because “One of the places where there is no contest between iPad and a laptop is communicating and interacting with others. To keep focus and eye contact, I’d prefer to have a 3-ring binder over a laptop at the lectern. Having an iPad in your hands is like holding an unobtrusive notebook, and you can walk around the courtroom, all the while maintaining eye contact with the jurors.”
     
  3. Be your own presentation professional: In a more recent trial in Federal Court, Tom’s opponent did not use an ELMO, but an entire trial team with presentation professionals, lots of extra monitors, and complicated looking programs. The trial team would call out a document to be shown, then call out an action like “highlight paragraph two” or “underline the second sentence.” When Tom’s turn came, he did all the same things, but with out any calling back and forth. He said, “The interface is so easy. You pick a document, zoom, highlight if you want, and you keep the jury focused on you and the document, not on a person at a desk on the other side of the room. The presentation is clean, buttoned up, and all at your fingertips.” In that trial, his opponent’s trial presentation team didn’t know the documents in the case as well as the lawyers presenting them. After all, there were hundreds of them, and the lawyers had been working with those documents for months or years prior to trial. This led to some miscommunication between the trial team and the presentation professional, and eventually lead to Tom’s opponent asking Tom to bring up a few documents for the jury.
     
  4. Use TranscriptPad for more: While Tom is a dedicated TrialPad user, he shared with us that TranscriptPad is also one of the workhorses of his practice, and stressed that TranscriptPad is not just to digest transcripts. While he does assign Issue Codes for case issues, and creates corresponding helpful reports, he also assigns Issue Codes for chronology using terms like “Scene 1” “Scene 2.” Then, he creates reports that will put the testimony in the order that it played out in real life, as opposed to the order it came out in deposition. Creating reports by scene also allows Tom to create a comparative chronology to drill down into the disputed facts, which is a life-saver when preparing for trials or motions for summary judgment.
     
  5. Mobility can be a time gift: Tom values his time, and will take a car hire service like Uber to a meeting or deposition so that he can prepare on the way, reviewing any key transcripts and documents all on his iPad. TrialPad and TranscriptPad make that kind of quick review, fast, easy, and immanently more portable than paper or a laptop. “I realized that I finally had mission-critical software that works.”
     
  6. Managing exhibits in DocReviewPad: One of Tom’s most powerful case management tools is a simple exhibit list. It contains each document or physical exhibits, plus some other info, and Tom takes it with him everywhere: interviews; hearings; depositions; and of course, trial. Now, instead of just a list, Tom also has the documents with him in DocReviewPad. He can consult the list to see if a document has been used as a exhibit in a deposition, for example, review the contents, and even make notes. 


For every matter Tom works on, he has everything with him at all times — and his briefcase is only two and half inches wide.

Tom Vidal is a Partner at Pryor Cashman, in Los Angeles, CA. He focuses his practice on Litigation, Media and Entertainment, Intellectual Property and Technology. 

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