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What Supplies Do You Need at Trial? Trial Organization Part I

I’m writing from a hotel in Wicomico County (on Maryland’s Eastern Shore), where I will begin a two-day jury trial tomorrow morning.

Here’s a great tip for staying organized during trials, especially the ones that keep you away from the office for several days. I always bring a set of portable office supplies. I keep them in a black nylon case that fits right inside my laptop bag. Inside I have:

  • A travel-sized stapler
  • A miniature three-hole punch for last-minute additions to my trial binder
  • Small and medium Post-It notes for flagging transcripts and medical records, or labeling copies of exhibits.
  • Paper clips
  • Binder clips- one or two in each size
  • A yellow highlighter
  • A black Sharpie marker
  • A red pen
  • •Extra pens- in my case blue Pilot P-500 Extra Fine point. If you have messy handwriting, the extra fine point helps it stay legible.

You need all of these same things if you are preparing for a moot court trial, too.

I leave the office supply case near where I keep my laptop bag at home, so all I have to do when I am getting organized for trial is open it up, check to make sure I don’t need to replenish anything and throw it in the bag. Little details like these really help keep my trial presentation organized. I hate a messy, disorganized trial table- I find it very distracting. Having a set of portable office supplies helps me to keep everything in its place in my trial binder and my exhibit folders.

The jury sees everything, so having a clean trial table and a meticulously organized trial binder (and the supplies I need to keep them that way) helps create the right impression right from the start.  This matters.  The jury wants the optics.  You want to look prepared and organized.  What does this do for you?  It helps you get the benefit of the doubt when you are not organized or the unexpected happens.