I’ve seen this tendency as well, though I have not yet seen anyone bring in their “good with computers” kid to run trial presentation. Still, I think what he talks about at the link is something attorneys need to take a moment and think about:
“Today, I talk about what I still consider to be my biggest competition when it comes to getting hired as a hot seater. When an attorney who hasn’t worked with a hot seater before starts figuring out what it costs, they frequently get sticker shock and then try and find ways around incurring those costs. Combine that monetary impulse with an misunderstanding of what, exactly, a hot seater does, and then the mythical super cheap hot seater arises. This is usually a relative who is in high school or college, “good at computers”, and a fraction of the cost of what a regular hot seater would cost. But this is certainly a situation where you get what you pay for. I normally don’t like to share war stories on youtube and I don’t mean to single anyone out or embarrass anyone. But I think it’s a helpful cautionary tale to both attorneys, hot seaters, and “young persons” alike.”
I’ve always been of the mindset that in a firm where I work, there are three types of “hot-seat” situations.
1. If the case involves a small set of exhibits, will last a couple of days, and probably no one is going to be adding anything or objecting to anything, great I can teach a paralegal or associate how to get the exhibits up on a screen. They are already there, so not a bunch of extra costs for the client.
2. If it’s going to be a little more complicated, maybe you’ll be showing exhibits side by side and pulling out quotes, or maybe you’ll need to redact on the fly, or add new exhibits as you go, great I know the program, and can do that. Take me with you, at the firm’s billable rate for Lit Support.
3. For a five week trial, with hundreds of potential exhibits that have not been agreed to, will change, and you’re going to need someone to manage the whole thing as you go? Hire someone who does this full time. Don’t mess around with that. There’s no replacement for that level of expertise.
I find those levels to be useful, but getting everyone to stick to them can be a challenge, because that last one will cost you. Having the whole thing go south on you in court, might cost you more though.