United States: High-Tech Trials: Best Practices In War Room Equipment

Last Updated: February 19 2013
Article by Jamey Johnson

A high-tech trial typically will include equipment in both the war room - for trial preparation - and the courtroom - for in-court display of evidence and demonstratives. Whether in the war room or the courtroom, the equipment must be dependable. Nowhere is it more critical than during trial that equipment perform as intended. In the war room, attorneys and staff must be able to rely on computers and printers to speed up the preparation process for the next trial day, and equipment failure could spell disaster, especially if your war room is in a remote location away from your home office resources.

Well in advance of trial, contact your in-house litigation support group or trial consulting company and request a list of support equipment. Importantly, take steps to ensure that the equipment to be deployed is well-maintained and sufficient in specifications to provide the speed and efficiency you will require during trial. If you are working with consultants and are leasing equipment, make sure the equipment provided is new and up to the task at hand. Some trial consulting companies rent out their own equipment as a means of profit, which can incentivize them to hold on to outdated equipment. Make sure you’re not getting the last few items in the warehouse.

Though the type and size of the war room and length of trial will play some role in the amount and kind of equipment deployed, every war room, whether local to your firm or remote, generally will have the same core complement of equipment. First and foremost, everyone in the war room should be equipped with a reliable computer with access to the Internet, which typically means a small network setup (discussed below). Laptop computers are favored for remote environments as they are much easier to ship and deploy than their desktop cousins, as well as transport between war room workspace and sleeping rooms. Moreover, today’s laptops are far closer to desktops in speed and processing power than in the past. Attorneys likely will use their own firm-issued laptops during trial as these devices are presumed to be well-maintained by the firm’s IT staff, and they will be configured for remote access to the firm’s network, as well as for security. If your support staff also has firm-issued laptops, they will suffice for most engagements - an exception is longer duration matters or serial/multi-district litigation with larger trial teams and a central server where it can be advantageous to rent identically configured laptops. This is covered in more detail below.

Printers, copiers and scanners are a necessity in the war room as well. Although today there are many multi-function devices that combine all three, as well as faxes, unless your trial team is small or the trial is short, multi-function devices should be avoided in favor of singularly dedicated devices. The old saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” especially is applicable in this context as each respective function is slower on a multi-function device than on a piece of equipment solely dedicated to its task. Moreover, multi-function devices can contribute to time constraints: For example, when one person is printing to a multi-function device, it cannot be used for scanning or copying, and no one wants to wait to complete a task, particularly at trial when time invariably is in short supply. Additionally, if such a device were to fail, one loses all the functionalities of that device—printing, copying, scanning and faxing—and such a single point of failure should be avoided.

With this in mind, the number of devices deployed will be dictated by the size of your team. A good rule of thumb is to have one high-speed black-and-white laser printer for every five persons. These printers will be the workhorses at trial, whether you’re printing outlines, motions or witnesses binders. You also need to have a high-speed color laser printer on hand. One color printer typically is sufficient unless you will be relying heavily on graphics and demonstratives; then you would need more than one. Be sure the color printer is a laser device and not an inkjet. Inkjet printers are cheap and convenient for home use but simply do not print fast enough for use at trial, and they can run out of ink very quickly. Even color laser printers can be put to task at trial when printing from programs such as PowerPoint. Be sure your in-house support department or outside trial consulting company is providing a late-model color laser printer with a sufficient print speed. Ask for specifications and print speeds: A minimum of 20 color pages per minute is recommended for a war room environment. Importantly, make sure you have a full complement of consumables for all your printers, including toners, fusers, drums, etc. There is nothing more frustrating than running out of toner at 3:00 in the morning before an important witness is scheduled to appear. With respect to copiers and scanners, one of each generally will be sufficient unless the trial team is very large. Conversely, if the team is small or the duration is short, a large-footprint copier may not be necessary, as a scanner connected to a laptop can be used as an ad hoc copier; i.e., you can scan the document into a PDF file and print to a black-and-white or color printer. Finally, if you do decide to go with a large-footprint copier, make sure it is provided by a local contractor and arrange in advance for fast turnaround on service calls. Copiers invariably have issues, such as paper jams and toner clogs, and having immediate access to a local, on-call technician is a must.

Now that you have your laptops, printers and scanners set, it is time to think about “sharing.” The ability to share is crucial in a war room: You will want to share printers, data and, of course, the all-important Internet connection, and this is where a small network comes into play. To share Internet bandwidth, along with printers and data, you will need a network router connected to the primary Internet connection and shared with all computers via Ethernet cables or a wireless connection. You can leave the actual details to your litigation support staff or outside consultants, but you will want to ensure the network is secure. If Ethernet cables are used, make sure they do not run through public areas where someone could have tampered with the lines. Likewise, if you’re going to use a wireless network, make sure the network is set up to send encrypted data and that passwords or keys are required in order to get connected. Though wireless security has come a long way in recent years, it generally is preferable to use a wired connection with cables running through secure areas. One can’t be too careful with confidential data and electronic work product.

With the infrastructure in place, you need to plan how you’re going to access all that data and all those documents you’ve accumulated for trial. The first question to ask is whether you will be bringing data with you for easier/faster access and, if so, how much data? The more data you bring, it becomes increasingly important to have a file server on-site. For shorter duration trials with small document databases, you may not need any centralized, on-site hosting or network sharing capabilities. What’s stored on each individual’s laptop may be acceptable, and, with sufficient bandwidth, you always can access your office network via Citrix or VPN. However, for larger engagements, you normally will have some sort of shared network on-site with the ability to share printers and data - and, of course, an Internet connection. At a minimum, your litigation support staff or outside consultants should have access to a central storage location in the war room to house the trial presentation database, video depositions and any demonstratives that may be used. A central location from which to access these data, coupled with a small network, allows the support team to share and print information, access e-mail and the Internet, and back up important files. Any changes made during an evening of preparation are stored in the central repository and can be loaded to the trial computers each morning for display during court. Depending on the amount of data, number of users and trial budget, the central repository need not be a full-blown, enterprise-level server; for example, a desktop computer with a shared or external drive connected to a laptop and configured to be shared over the network may be sufficient.

Longer engagements, such as multi-district litigation and large-exposure matters with complicated products, may demand a proper file server with significant storage for locally hosted data. These types of engagements usually require large trial teams that will need sustained access to trial and discovery databases and video depositions, which, by themselves, demand a lot of storage and cannot be accessed over the Internet. Indeed, the Internet can become a bottleneck in this situation if there is no locally hosted data. Multiple persons using Citrix or VPN to access data back at the office can grind even the most robust Internet connection to a slow crawl. Every file accessed in such a manner must be pulled across the Internet to the user’s laptop and, thereby, uses bandwidth; additionally, such connections typically are encrypted, adding to the load on the Internet connection. A T1 or faster connection generally is sufficient for moderate remote access, but 10 to 20 associates and paralegals relying exclusively on such a connection and constantly accessing files likely will result in staring at an hourglass. This is not to say you need to bring all 25 discovery databases to the war room. Rather, schedule a meeting with your in-house support group or outside consultants to discuss on-site hosting vs. Citrix/VPN access and come up with a plan to mitigate bandwidth erosion during the trial. The result may be some combination of hosted data with an increase in Internet bandwidth. Regardless, when faced with significant data, plan well ahead to make sure all the information is at your fingertips when you need it.

Finally, regardless of the decision pertaining to having a local file server in the war room or remote access to your firm’s resources back at the office, always maintain a backup of the work product and database(s) used on-site in the war room. This can be a function of a properly configured file server, use of a separate device such as tape backup or network attached storage device, or even an external hard drive. Much like running out of toner for the printer or copier at 3 a.m., failure of your principal data storage device can be disastrous—make sure you have a complete backup of the data and plan in advance with your litigation support team or outside consultants for the protocols and equipment to be used to ensure data redundancy.

In sum, whether configured in your office for a local hearing or set up in a leased space for a remote trial, make sure you have access to quality computers, equipment and peripherals and the ability to efficiently share printers, data and Internet connectivity.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FTI Consulting, Inc. or its other professionals. (c)FTI Consulting, Inc., 2011. All rights reserved.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions