Ten Questions to Ask Your “Hot Seat” Provider

First, I’ll define the term “Hot Seat.” In litigation, thisis used to describe the role of the trial presentation technician or consultant– the one responsible for managing and presenting the evidence to Judge andJury. Any delay in presenting the requested exhibit can seem like an eternity. One miscue on their part, such as bringingup the wrong exhibit, can immediately result in a mistrial – hence the term, “hotseat.”

1.      How much will it cost?
Make sure to get the “real numbers” in any estimates you receive, and see ifthere are hidden extras, such as overtime, travel, equipment, weekend orholiday charges, project management fees, etc.

2.      How much do you personally make?
Cost does not always equal value, and hourly rates do not necessarily indicatethe level of competency of the individual actually providing the services. Thismay be a very personal question, but if the hourly rate is $250, and yourhot-seat tech is making $25 of that, there’s a problem.

3.      How many actual court trials have you personallyhandled the “hot seat” in?
This should be a realistic number, and is not the same question as, “How manycases have you worked on in any capacity?”

4.      Have you ever been involved in a trial similarto this?
Your “hot seat” person will be comfortable, and thus more effective, infamiliar surroundings. Although it would be unrealistic to expect experiencewith the exact case type, things like the size and value of the matter, venuetype, data formats, and general type of litigation are all helpful qualities.

5.      What extra value do you have to offer the trialteam?
In some cases, the answer may be zero, and that is fine. In others, similarcase experience, case feedback, jury monitoring, or other extras may help makethe decision whether or not to hire.

6.      May I see your bio?
Don’t expect to see a résumé, as you’re not hiring an employee. However, youhave every right to request a bio of the person(s) who will be assigned to yourcase. Make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

7.      How long have you been doing this type of work?
A few years can be a reasonable amount of time to master most of this. Unless you’re knowingly hiring a trainee(can you spell m-a-l-p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e?), make sure they’re not learning on yourdime, and at the expense of your case.

8.      Can you assist with Opening Statement andClosing Arguments?
Depending on the case, it can often be helpful to have another set of eyes lookingat things, and offering ideas on how to tell the story visually. This may ormay not be something you need or are willing to pay for in your case.

9.      Are you capable of producing on-site graphics?
Any hot-seat technician should be able to make at least minor changes on thefly as needed. There’s simply not always time to engage the “graphics team,” regardlessof wherever they may be located.

10.  What sets you apart from your competitors?
This can apply both to the company, and the individual(s) assigned. However, hiringa well-known company does not necessarily mean that the person they will assignis the best for you. Make sure it’s a good fit from top to bottom.

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