Mark Whalen has built a successful trial support business in Upstate New York by word of mouth alone. He is the kind of “trial guy” that any lawyer would want to tell everyone about (or maybe try to keep him a secret!). Based in Syracuse, his company covers a wide area from Buffalo to Plattsburgh to northern Pennsylvania. Mark has been involved with litigation support for many years. Over that time, he has seen a wide shift in the approach to preparing and to presenting matters of all types and sizes.
Starting with his time working in graphics and video at a large national company, Mark has seen and used many of the tools available for trial preparation and presentation. At the beginning of his career, graphics and printed large-format boards were the main form of presentation in court. This morphed into document cameras connected to projectors and screens. Not too much later, and often in conjunction with the document cameras, complicated desktop programs with dedicated trial presentation technicians started appearing in courtrooms across the United States. Mark trained to present trials electronically using Windows-based software. He soon found himself connecting computers, monitors, and enough peripherals and wiring to set up a full virtual office as well as a projector and screen for the judge and jury. He would then bring up documents with barcodes, to run the presentation program in the courtroom for the duration of the trial. This kind of setup was effective and expensive, but was standard practice for many years.
Mark’s experience led him to start his own trial support business, and he soon found a regional client base of trial lawyers. Just as he stayed on the cutting edge through boards and document cameras, Mark continued researching the best solutions for his clients, constantly evolving his company to make his client’s trials as easy and efficient as possible, without ever losing out on effectiveness. That research led him to put aside the complex programs that need professional “hot-seaters” when he came across a powerful new tool—TrialPad. Mark found that TrialPad was “much more portable and, in the most important aspects, just as capable as the desktop programs”. He also found that TrialPad made it unnecessary for him to attend most trials. While some clients still preferred that he present from the app, most could now do the presentation on their own. TrialPad saved those clients time and (a lot of) money in courtroom presentations. Other clients who might have previously rented a document camera, found TrialPad to be an easy-to-use replacement that was mobile, paperless, and much more dynamic. As Mark put it, “TrialPad killed the Elmo (document camera)”.
Eliminating the need for multiple desktop programs in his business also eliminated the preparation and in-person support that those programs require. This included testing everything whenever an update to the presentation software or Windows came out, staying up to date with ever-changing tools and tool bars, and paying annual maintenance and update fees. Mark told us that “the feature set of TrialPad is constant and consistent, making it easy to stay up to speed with the software” and that “it allows users to be far more familiar with the software, far faster and for far longer than complicated Windows-based programs.” The move to TrialPad gave Mark more time, allowing him to take on more clients, and add to his company’s list of services.
Today, while Mark still does hot-seat and playback work (using TrialPad) when needed, most of his clients are comfortable using TrialPad, and hire him to edit video and set up courtroom displays so trial teams can plug and play. He concentrates on discovery, preserving the record with video, and producing Day-In-The-Life and settlement videos. He gives his clients video formats that can easily be played back in TrialPad at mediation or trial, which saves even more on additional litigation costs.
IN RECENT MONTHS
Mark is always on the hunt for what will best serve his clients’ needs. As a response to the COVID crisis, Mark used his experience and research to become an industry leader in remote presentation technology, presenting evidence in remote proceedings so that his clients could still advocate with the same effectiveness and efficiency as before. The remote presentations are just as plug-and-play with TrialPad as in-person presentations are, and Mark makes them even more worry-free by hosting them for the client. Hosting remote proceedings assists the court reporter and the attorneys involved. Mark can control the settings needed to properly record any proceeding, monitor video and sound, and also display and annotate documents, play video, and assign exhibits stickers. With Mark hosting, the court reporter can focus on capturing everything for the record, and the attorney can focus on arguments, objections, and questioning. TrialPad’s tight integration with remote hosting services and various cloud services makes it easy for Mark to receive last minute exhibits to display and annotate during the proceedings. After a remote deposition, Mark can create a trial ready picture in picture video for his client. The trial ready video preserves the record and can be played back in TrialPad when courts and trials are back in session.
Though there are plenty of efficiencies with TrialPad that save Mark and his clients time and money, the main reason he made the shift to TrialPad is that “it is simply the best presentation option available”. When courts were in session, Mark would sometimes see trial techs with the older Windows laptops and all their connections and peripherals in court. Each time he would compare TrialPad’s performance with the performance of whatever tool the opposing counsel was using. Over and over, he has come to the conclusion that “the old programs can often make the lawyers who use them look clumsy in comparison. [However, Mark’s clients] nimbly tap on a document on their iPad to display and annotate, and sit back down at counsel table without unplugging or even seeming to interact physically with the courtroom technology.”
Mark’s litigation support business is successful because he puts his clients first, and constantly seeks out the best tools as technology advances and improves. TrialPad is one of those tools. He shows his clients how to use it because he knows they will save time and money and that using TrialPad consistently gets real results in the courtroom. He also has stepped up to support his clients during this new reality with which we are all faced. He knows that recommending and supporting software like TrialPad, and always putting his clients first will bring his them back to his company in every matter they litigate. That’s why, in an age of advertising, social media, and webpages, he’s succeeded by word of mouth alone.
Learn more about Mark and Litigraphics, LLC on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-whalen-b76a8511
Update from Mark:
I recently finished a med-mal trial with an attorney who, despite my urging for several years, had yet to use or see TrialPad in action during trial. I told him I’d to trial tech for this particular case as an intro. Long story short, he was duly impressed. He was amazed at the speed and responsiveness. It doesn’t hurt that he got a favorable verdict, either! https://www.nny360.com/news/jeffersoncounty/watertown-jury-awards-former-fort-drum-soldier-13-5-million-for-medical-misdiagnosis/article_4c8940dc-e4f1-5cf7-bbdf-b6c6e17ec46d.html