Make Litigation Timelines in PowerPoint

Half my family are attorneys so how I became a software developer is a bit of an oddity.  Regardless, since my focus is on presentation software, it didn’t take long for me to think about trial software and their presentation needs.  I started to wonder about software that could help make their legal presentations, particularly their openings/closing statements, much easier to create and more persuasive.

Excel litigation timeline tableAlthough I don’t know much about legal presentation strategies, I do understand how people process information and therefore how important it would be for litigators to properly present the foundations of a case.  I also understand that litigators need an easier way to put together a clearly outlined and logical timeline of events.  They tell me it would help judges, juries and mediators not only understand their cases better, but also remember the important facts they have laid out for them.

However, when it comes to creating impressive visual legal timelines it seems they struggle with the same issues that many of my enterprise customers struggle with.  They do not have good software tools to do this kind of work and when they do use a timeline maker or Viso, it doesn’t  work well with PowerPoint.  Their tools are challenging stand-alone applications which produce unappealing graphics that are difficult for judges and juries to follow.

As it is in the corporate world and on campus, PowerPoint seems also to be ubiquitous in the legal world.  It is optimized for delivering really effective presentations and so using PowerPoint to make litigation timelines makes a lot of sense.   The challenge for many litigators is that PowerPoint is a blank slate and there is no simple way to create litigation timelines.  Office Timeline may solve the problem.

It is a timeline maker that is embedded into PowerPoint, so using it to create, manage and present compelling litigation timelines is intuitive and quick.  It starts with a simple wizard for entering chronological data or importing those events directly from Excel. Then with a push of a button this chronology is turned into a beautifully laid out timeline slide in PowerPoint.  Once created, it is easy to control and format the timeline so presenters can test various ways to emphasize key events.  It frees litigators from having to design and gives them an effective vehicle to persuade.

Since my exposure to the legal world has been limited, I wanted to validate some of this thinking with an expert in the field.  I contacted Sherry Wirth, President of The Exhibit Company, a Texas litigation design and trial support specialist firm.  They have been doing this kind of thing for a long time and she told me that judge and juror retention can be increased a whole bunch when visuals are used in conjunction with oral argument. Sherry said that her firm has created over 800 litigation timelines over the past 18 years.  She said they are really effective because they are a road map for the jury, a path they can clearly follow which reinforces the key facts, evidence and testimony.

I asked about the tools her firm uses and she said they “have tried just about every timeline program out there and always defaulted to PowerPoint because it give us ultimate flexibility and it is a platform that most of our clients are familiar with.”  She also said that, it is a painstaking process even for experienced PowerPoint designers to create timeline slides in PowerPoint.  I asked her team to try Office Timeline to see if it would be valuable in the litigation industry.  Here what she said.  “It is a game changer, it’s simple and elegant interface lets you literally copy and paste your information from Excel and with the push of a button, create a beautiful timeline.”  (see short demo in the video below)

This valdiated my assumptions and our team is focusing on solving more challenges in the legal presentation space. Download and try the free version of Office Timeline for PowerPoint.

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