I've spent the last week living out of a hotel working with a trial team trying a patent case in Tyler, and have had a chance to try out a different layout with my trial equipment. I brought two briefcases plus the the ScanSnap in its bag and used a little different setup I thought I'd share. I'm not saying we still don't roll in stacks of boxes, and keep bookcases of notebooks in the courtroom, and I do rely on those, but in terms of what I actually bring in to do my part of the job, this is where I'm at right now.
Briefcase #1 is my courtroom bag, and it contains:
- Levenger notepad and pens (have to be moderately old school in trial)
- O'Connor's Federal Rules rulebook. Don't leave the office without it.
- poly plastic sleeves for papers (one sleeve per task, i.e. voir dire, witness, motion argument, etc., plus one for receipts and another couple for general stuff that accumulates during trial - argument notes, etc.). The poly sleeves have been my secret weapon (uh, well maybe not any more) since law school, when an office I worked in used them to route contracts and other documents to be reviewed. Ever since then I keep a stack at hand to separate and protect documents. As useful as they are in my office, they're doubly useful in a briefcase during trial.
- 13" MacBook Air w/mouse
- iPad/iPhone and MacBook Air chargers
Since all our case files are electronic, we move them over to DropBox shortly before trial, so literally everything in the case is on both the iPad and the MacBook Air, hence no need for pleadings or motion notebooks, at least for me. I annotate documents on both the MacBook and the iPad (using iAnnotate and a stylus) depending on which has the better wifi connection, although I try to annotate on the iPad so I can hand it to cocounsel or the Court when it has a document or transcript page. Being able to hand the iPad to cocounsel or put it on the Elmo is a distinct advantage compared to a laptop, I've discovered in recent hearings and trials. I do not yet use multiple iPads during trial (unlike Seattle attorney Ian "Carries Three iPads" Crosby, who memorably did so at the podium while examining a witness during a trial in front of Judge Gilstrap in Marshall in October). If that many documents are needed, I usually have to fall back on creating notebooks. But I usually only use paper for an outline for voir dire/witnesses/motions, and any documents I'll need to hand up during those proceedings, and those I keep in separate colored poly sleeves. All of that - plus trial notes - get scanned, filed, and the paper originals shredded as soon as the trial is over.
Briefcase #2 and the ScanSnap are set up in the trial war room (hotel or our offices across the street, depending on where we are working). That bag consists of:
- the main office laptop & travel mouse
- the Lenovo second monitor.
- ScanSnap (for scanning while away from the office)
- wireless headset for Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation
- Apple charger for iPad and iPhone (so I don't have to take the trial bag chargers out when I get to the war room and accidentally leave one).
My cocounsel usually have full docking stations in the war room for their laptops with extra keyboards and large monitors, but I don't find that necessary - although that's exactly what I do have in my Tyler office.
Next trial I probably won't bother with the second bag other than to bring the Lenovo (and leave it in the war room), but I haven't installed the software yet to run it off the Mac (for a second monitor for the Mac I have been using the iPad via Air Display, but thus far it is spectacularly unreliable). I ended up not using the ScanSnap this trial, but it's so easy to unhook from my desk at the office and carry around that it's worth bringing just in case.
The list of what I actually carry varies daily, but this is the general layout, and it's worked very well.