How to Prepare a Winning Trial Notebook

The Paralegal Resource
December 16, 2013 — 2,485 views  
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Every paralegal and legal assistant knows very well about the weightage of a good trial book. It comes out as one of those tools which are frequently used by paralegals to organize their trial documents. This makes it essential for legal assistants to keep the trial book updated by adding all the information related to the trial. Plus, it keeps all the information handy, which means you do not need to carry several files, just one trial notebook.

Importance of Having a Good Trial Notebook

It is very important for every paralegal to organize all the material related to the trial efficiently so that it can help when the need of a quick reference arises. It is even better if you take out time before the trial to organize separately all the related documents like opening statements, closing statements, cross examinations, direct examinations and so on. Trial notebooks usually have a three-ring binder which makes it easy to enter all the important documents and information in different sections. This helps extensively during the trial. Apart from helping in storing all the key documents and information at one place, a trial notebook also ensures that the documents don’t get misplaced.

Best Practices for Preparing a Trial Notebook

One thing that you need to keep in mind while preparing the trial book is having all the essential documents ready. Remember that you don’t need to create a trial book just to impress your client or any other lawyer. This means that it can be of great use if you prepare a trial book for every case.

Creating a good trial notebook can be simple, if you consider the following:

  • The first thing you want to do is to gather all the evidence that you need, and come up with a list which can help you in tracking the exhibits. If you are working for the plaintiff, opt for numbers and go for letters if you are fighting for defense.
  • Once you complete the trial outline, list out every point that will help you in proving or disapproving at the trial.
  • Then, create a witness list and also include a section against it where you can check mark once the witness has served.
  • You can start with trial preparation by arranging a trial brief. But this will be possible only if the judge allows trial briefs.
  • Create a separate folder for witnesses from both sides. Also list the facts that you would want to question them about during the trial.
  • You can include pretrial orders which may help in regulating the course of the trial.
  • Come up with a few sample questions.
  • Prepare an outline of an opening as well as closing statement of the trial.
  • Create trial verdict forms.
  • Make sure that you organize all the information in such a manner that the most important data stays readily accessible.
  • Also, make a minimum of two trial notebook copies and store them at different places. It is ideal to keep one at the office and the other one at home.

The Paralegal Resource