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Expanding The Use of Video in Law Firms

by Doug Blanchard

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New viral videos appear daily. Most of our news comes from video clips on our smart phones or iPads rather than a newspaper. Many websites have replaced endless paragraphs of text with click and play videos. White Papers are nearing extinction as their authors now record a video about their subject matter. TED Talks are the de facto source for new and provocative information on virtually any subject matter.

We are now deeply entrenched in a digital and video age that asks us to watch, rather than read. Information about what is happening in the world, both around the corner and around the planet, is easily accessed on YouTube.

The legal profession has historically been a slow adapter of new technology. So, do you have a strategy for using video in your practice?

From websites, to digital marketing via YouTube or Facebook - and especially in the court room - video has proven to be a compelling medium to reach and influence your intended audience.

Let's start with websites and the Internet. When people in need of legal services try to determine which firm would best represent them, most will ask someone they know for a referral or recommendation. Then they almost immediately "Google" the firm, and check out their website.

From small matters to multi-million dollar lawsuits the connection with an attorney is critical. Do you have a video snippet highlighting who you are, what you have achieved, and what you can do for a prospective new client? If not, and you are relying on a static head shot and several paragraphs of where you went to school, what honors you achieved and the articles you have written, your prospect has most likely moved on to another firm in the search results. A static site cannot offer any sense of personality and demeanor.

A website featuring videos of each of the attorneys lets their personality, voice and individual characteristics come alive. A prospect gains a sense of what it would be like to deal with the attorney, and if they would feel comfortable with their representation. People have developed much shorter attention spans and expect instant access to information to answer a question or to help form or validate an opinion.

This has become vital for trial attorneys trying to influence a jury or judge to see their side of a case. Video in the court room is no longer a mysterious or exotic tool. Much like the early days of eDiscovery systems, which are now the norm for document intensive cases, video is a necessary and expected part of a trial presentation.

As one young prospective juror remarked during voir dire: "Dude, if it's not on YouTube it didn't happen."

The use of digital resources, especially day-in-the-life videos, accident recreations and animation are having a significant impact on plaintiff attorney's court room presentations. There is a growing variety of tools available to compliment an attorney's oral argument.

Trial presentation software programs: These organize volumes of exhibits and demonstratives, including video clips and power point slides, which can be instantly recalled and pulled up on video screens for the judge and jury to review. These programs are more efficient than paper copies, trial boards or ELMO machines and can better capture and keep a juror's attention.

Animation and accident re-creation videos: If a video of the actual event does not exist, which is becoming a rarity, re-creating the event with an animated version has almost the same impact, especially with the use of HD technology.
Video depositions: An increasing number of attorneys are now requesting their court reporting firm record a video copy of a deposition. These can be reviewed after the deposition to look for discrepancies in answers, and can be used at trial to impeach a witness for lack of consistency in their responses.

Day-in-the-Life videos: One of the most powerful methods of demonstrating the extent of an injury to a plaintiff is to watch them try to perform their daily routine and everyday activities. Tasks that were once easy to complete, but are now a substantial challenge, if even possible at all, provide compelling evidence of the damage inflicted by an incident. With HD recording equipment and new video applications available, all PI firms should seriously consider using this method to represent their client's best interests.

Change and the adoption of new technology is always a challenge for any business, especially law firms. However the rate of change and the ever evolving use of video as an everyday component of our lives is undeniable. Developing a strategy for the use of video as part of the marketing program should be a top priority for every firm. For trial attorneys, the use of video and other emerging technology could be a considerable advantage versus firms that rely solely on the attorney to argue the case. There is nothing more convincing than seeing a video of something. It truly has become the norm. How effectively is your firm using video resources?

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** A previous version of this article appeared in Attorney-at-Law magazine.

dblanchard
By Doug Blanchard - Vice President, Business Development - Jensen Litigation Solutions

Doug has been involved in the legal industry for over fifteen years and has worked across the EDRM cycle. At Jensen, he works with leading law firms and corporate legal departments on trial preparation and presentation strategies, and provides best-in-class court reporting and deposition services.… read more...

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