TrialPad Presentation Setup

We’ve been using TrialPad for the last couple of years and we’ve been really happy with how well it works. There are a couple other similar apps out there, but I haven’t spent much time with them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. With that in mind, Exhibit A is supposed to work well and it’s a lot cheaper at $14.99. TrialDirector is even cheaper (free!). I tried both last year, but I’m used to TrialPad. The presentation setup is similar with whatever app you use.

What you’ll need:

  1. An iPad
    Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

    Image via CrunchBase

If you don’t already have one, I would just buy the newest one. They improve them every year.

  1. There are two main options. One with a data plan (like your smart phone), or without the data plan. I always use to recommend getting the one without. I figured I could always buy a “mobile hotspot” later if I needed it. I have noticed that AT&T offers a mobile sharing plan. So, if you already have that, it’s $10 more a month to also have data on an iPad. I seem to almost always have access to wifi, so I don’t mess with it the added data cost.
  2. The other option is the memory size (16GB, 32GB, and 64GB). 16GB should be fine, but it doesn’t hurt to have extra space. 32GB is probably the safe bet. I have the 64GB one, and after checking, I’m using 12.8GB of space.
  1. TrialPad (or other presentation App)

It’s currently $89.99 via iTunes. I think it was about half that when I first bought it. They seem to do software updates every few months, so it keeps improving.

  1. Dropbox 

    Image representing Dropbox as depicted in Crun...

    Image via CrunchBase

This is probably the most popular cloud storage service. If you don’t want to use Dropbox, you’ll need to transfer the files from your computer to the iPad via iTunes. I haven’t bothered to try that. Dropbox is really easy. Everyone can get 2GB for free by signing up.

  1. A screen/projector or TV to broadcast what you want.
    1. Some courtrooms have projectors, so that would work. We use a large plasma TV on a “utility” cart to put the TV on. It also works well to wheel it over to the courthouse. We also have a DVD player hooked up to the TV. The cart is big/sturdy enough to fit a TV on top plus 6 banker’s boxes of files, if needed. I think it’s rated at 500 pounds. I bought it at Sam’s Club for approximately $80. I also use some bungee cords to ensure the TV doesn’t fall over while I’m wheeling it over to the courthouse.
    2. We were initially going to use a projector, but found the TV to work a lot better for positioning right in front of the jury. Depending on the lighting, projectors can be pretty useless too.
  2. A connection to the TV – two options
    1. HDMI cable with iPad adapter
      1. This is what we used the first couple of trials. It’s a nuisance to be tied to the TV though. A good 25” HDMI cable is around $20 on They’re about $90 at Wal-mart or Best Buy though. The hdmi adapter is around $40 at the Apple Store (or online). You can also use a VGA or other video adapter if your projector doesn’t have HDMI.
    2. Apple TV + Airport Express (for wirelessly displaying the exhibits)
      AirPort Express

      AirPort Express (Photo credit:

      1. Both cost around $100. Apple TV is what plugs into the television. It allows you to watch movies, etc., as well as connect to other iOS devices. The Airport Express is a wireless router. To work wirelessly on a TV, an iPad needs to be on the same wifi network as the Apple TV. Note, I didn’t say it needs internet access. So, this is just a network not connected to the internet. This is the trickiest part, but only takes a couple minutes if you follow the instructions. It still remembers the network if it’s unplugged (like en route to the courthouse), so there’s no issue after the initial setup. The initial setup is
        1. Creating the network on the Aiport Express (another wifi router and some phones can also do this)
        2. Connect the Apple TV to the network that was created.
        3. Connect your iPad to the same network
        4. When you’re ready to present, hit the “home” button on the iPad twice, then scroll over to the left side.
      2. The picture quality is excellent with this setup. We also “tested” it by leaving the TV on and walking outside of our office building. I’m not sure the range, but it’s got to be bigger than a court room.
      3. More recently, I’ve had clients connect their iPhones to the TV in our conference room. It’s a lot nicer than huddling around their phone to see the photos they just took. It’s also easier if there are several people in the room or if they want to point to a specific part of the photo.

TrialPad has a few features I use the most.

  1. The “Key Docs” is definitely the top one. This allows me to organize my files in the order I like, but with specific pages (and highlights, etc). It will save the file in the Key Doc folder as “Exhibit 5 (or what the initial file is saved as, Page 10.”
  2. Highlighter – I like to highlight key sections of documents, as needed.
  3. “Call out” function. Basically you highlight what you want and it makes it larger than everything else.
  4. Import from camera. I always take photos of the jury instructions I want to highlight for the jury. We usually don’t have these finalized with the Court until shortly before closing arguments. Otherwise, I would already have those loaded.
    1. When needed, I will also take photos of Defense exhibits (out of their exhibit book) to put on the TV.
  5. “Freeze” at the bottom of the screen, TrialPad has the “output” button at the bottom of the screen. The options are Blank, Freeze, or Present. I often hit Freeze while I pull up the next document (timed when needed, etc.). The output also has the option to do two pages side by side. This is excellent for comparing two pages/photos.
  6. Zooming in and highlighting or the callout function. This zooms to what I want focused on in the document. The white out function is also handy if there’s a lot of info/clutter on a page.
  7. Depending on the type of witness, it’s convenient to have them walk over to the TV and point to specific areas on a photo/exhibit.

Some neat features I don’t use, but you might find handy:

  1. There’s a “laser pointer.” I don’t actually use it because I just zoom in on what I want everyone to look at.
  2. Whiteboard – basically a dry erase board. You can handwrite stuff on the iPad.

A few tips:

  • A stylus might be easier than using your finger on the iPad. HHI makes one that is less than 10 bucks on Amazon. It’s also a pen, so that’s convenient.
  • Organize the file like you do a trial notebook into PDFs before you move it to Dropbox. I have a folder titled “Exhibits” plus our normal case file folders. Each PDF is “Exhibit # [description].” I also transfer the whole file over in case I need to reference random pleadings/correspondence.
  • I don’t deal with the video player for playing expert witness depos. I’ve found it a lot easier to just use a DVD player.
  • Learn how to use the Key Docs section. I can move between exhibits way faster than having to mess with a trial notebook. You can also rearrange the keydocs as you go.
  • We have a designated briefcase that keeps all the cables, Apple TV, Airport Express together with the TV cart. You’ll also want an extension cable and surge protector. You never know where the outlets are hidden in some courtrooms.
  • I leave the hdmi cable/adapter in the briefcase for backup. We haven’t had any problems with Apple TV though.

The whole setup is less than $1,800, but can be more if you want a nicer TV:

  1. iPad: $600
  2. TV (generally the bigger the better): ~$800 and up. The lights won’t glare as bad on an LCD or vs. Plasma TV
  3. HDMI Cable: $20 for the 25”, but I also have a 6’ cable in the briefcase
  4. Adapters (we actually also bought the AV one too): $80
  5. Utility Cart from Sam’s Club: ~$100 – I would actually buy this if didn’t use the TV or iPad. It’s handy for moving the files if you’re trying the case solo.
  6. Surge Protector and Extension cord
  7. DVD Player: <$100
  8. TrialPad: $90
  9. Bungee tie down cords

I’ve thought about getting a small TV with cart to put right in front of the witness and judge. I haven’t looked to see how that setup would work for “mirroring” the two TVs though. That’s really the only thing I would change with the setup. Feel free to give me a call or email if you have any questions.