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Fourteen Days Before Trial: The Home Stretch

Elise Dresser, Jessica Te

For lawyers preparing to go to trial, the two weeks before trial are critical. That is when you check off the final items on your to-do list and finalize your trial plan. After months of hard work, your research and preparation will be put to the test.

Fourteen days until trial

Finalize your strategy and visualize how you want the trial to play out.

  • Complete your trial binders. Ensure that you have all the documents you need for trial, including exhibits and cross-examination materials. Make sure they will be readily accessible when needed.
  • Finalize motions in limine and oppositions, the trial brief, jury instructions and questionnaire, voir dire questions, joint statement of the case, special verdict forms, joint witness lists, and joint exhibit lists. Ensure that your legal assistants and paralegals have the most recent versions of all trial documents because they will be responsible for compiling the final trial binders and clearly marking all exhibits.
  • Finish witness examination outlines and exhibits.
  • Create a checklist for courtroom logistics.
  • Complete and practice your opening and closing statements.
  • Have a final rehearsal with your clients.

The legal assistants and paralegals on your team can assist with the following tasks:

  • Creating a checklist of items to bring to trial. This may include:
    • Laptops
    • Trial binders
    • Exhibit binders
    • Trial and exhibit logs
    • Motions tracking charts
    • Witness contact lists
    • Subpoenas/agreements to appear at trial
    • Voir dire/juror profiles
  • Preparing a trial supply box to keep you organized during trial. Items you may want to include are:
    • Writing tools and accessories: pens, pencils, highlighters, Sharpies, pencil sharpeners, staplers, extra staples, staple removers, paper clips, a three-hole punch, White-Out, post-it notes of all sizes
    • Electronic devices and chargers: a portable printer, flash drives, extension cords, power strips, batteries, laser pointers, cell phone and laptop chargers
    • Stationary: legal pads, scratch paper, envelopes, expandable (Redweld) folders, manila folders, extra binders, scotch tape, copy paper
    • Personal items: extra suit, first aid kit, sewing kit, Kleenex, acetaminophen/ibuprofen, easels, or a dolly for transporting boxes
  • Confirming the availability of copy service vendors and, if needed, the court reporter.
  • Planning out meals.  Pack water and snacks for the trial team and look into meal delivery services and restaurants located close to the courthouse or hotel.
  • Making additional plans to prepare for the upcoming trial. For example, if a trial is scheduled for an extended period, your team can assist you by compiling a list of local dry cleaners, hair salons, office supply stores, drug stores, and shopping centers.

The job does not end when trial begins; rather, it is the start of a fresh new set of tasks and deadlines. You can be focused completely on your trial because your support staff will be ready to assist every step of the way. Always expect the unexpected, and remember, the key word is communication!

Now, you are ready for trial.

Seeking more tips? In case you missed it, check out our previous blogs about trial preparation:

About the author Elise Dresser

Elise is a legal assistant for the employment law team.  From opening a file to going to trial, she attends to each phase of each case with great care.   

About the author Jessica Te

As a member of McManis Faulkner’s marketing team, Jessica assists the firm in its outreach efforts.