The summer of 2019 was a big moment in Elissa Haynes’s legal career. She would be trying her first case as lead counsel, and that trial would set the tone for her own style of advocacy before a judge and jury, as well as before her client.
WHEN YOU NEED TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION
As an insurance defense attorney, Elissa had grown accustomed to her carriers wanting to invest heavily in IT professionals for courtroom technology during trial. But Elissa wanted to set a different tone. She wanted to be paperless, appear professional and prepared before the jury, and perhaps more importantly, she did not want to walk into trial with a small army and its accompanying technology in tow. Past experience had shown her that even the most experienced trial tech couldn’t know everything about her case, her strategy, or the direction of her argument, and doing the presentation herself would make her the authority on the case and the evidence in the courtroom, and, in turn, would save her client money. So, on the Saturday morning before trial, she took a chance on software that had been recommended to her by a fellow plaintiff’s trial and appellate attorney, Darren Summerville. After a quick trip to Best Buy to purchase the newest iPad Pro, Elissa downloaded TrialPad and hasn’t looked back.
WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE THREE DAYS
Elissa said that TrialPad “couldn’t be simpler or more user-friendly.” Setting up her case was easy and learning to use TrialPad took only minutes, leaving her most of the weekend to prepare for her trial. By plugging an Apple TV into counsel table, Elissa was wirelessly fighting and winning an important motion in limine on Monday morning, presenting her opening to the judge and jury Monday afternoon, and receiving a defense verdict by late afternoon on Tuesday. In just two days, Elissa had used TrialPad to prepare her case, access all her evidence, impeach the main witness on the fly, call out and highlight important documents, and save them with their annotations for use in her closing argument. Elissa’s experience showed her that TrialPad has many benefits. It costs a fraction of a courtroom presentation tech, it is portable enough to bring to court in a handbag, and it is easy to learn, set up, and use. Most importantly, however, it is very effective in the courtroom. Upon polling the jurors, they commented over and over on the presentation she made, and how it changed the way they viewed the case and led to the verdict they delivered.
WHEN YOU ONLY HAVE ONE DAY
About a month later, Elissa was in trial again in a very small matter and her first as solo counsel. While her first experience with TrialPad had been a time crunch, this trial would prove to be even more of a challenge. Due to her opposing counsel’s last-minute willingness to submit the case to a 6-person jury on the morning of trial, the judge announced that the trial could be conducted in a day and that closing arguments would need to be made by the end of the day, rather than the following morning. Over lunch, Elissa put together her entire closing argument and delivered it flawlessly before receiving another defense verdict. She attributed her ability to put the argument and presentation together at such short notice to TrialPad’s search feature and straightforward annotation tools. With TrialPad, not only was everything at her fingertips—it was easy to find, annotate, and save. Once again, upon polling the jurors, they raved about her presentation and how it helped them see and understand her case.
WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGES
Using TrialPad helps Elissa to be organized, mobile, and paperless in the courtroom as well as outside the courtroom. At the beginning of 2020, many proceedings began to be held remotely. But Elissa’s reliance on TrialPad for presentation hasn’t stopped, in fact, it has probably increased. TrialPad integrates easily with Zoom, and Elissa has used TrialPad with Zoom for depositions, mediations, appellate oral arguments, mock trials and more. Remote proceedings may be here to stay for a while to come, but in a specially set trial coming this March, Elissa will be back in court again, in person with TrialPad, ready to hear her next favorable verdict.
Elissa is a Partner at Freeman, Mathis, and Gary in Atlanta, GA, where she serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s National Appellate Advocacy practice section.