Use Binder Organization to Set Yourself Up for Courtroom Success
Losing important paperwork is a paralegal's worst nightmare. Proper binder organization can help you find the documents you need at a moment's notice.
Imagine this: You're about to enter the courtroom for one of your most important cases of the year.
Suddenly, you realize you cannot find the right paperwork you need. You have hundreds of papers in front of you to bring in, but these ones are nowhere to be found.
Let's be real. You'd probably lose that court case since you don't have any papers to help you out. You're scatter-brained and not ready to be the best lawyer you can be.
That would be a nightmare.
With the right binder organization, you don't have to worry about this ever happening! Keep reading for some binder organization tips to ensure organization never gets in the way of your work.
Start With a Reference Section
It makes sense to make a trial binder in the order that the trial will occur. This will prevent you from flipping unnecessarily through your binder.
In the reference section, you should include the following:
- Table of contents
- Contact lists
- Case summary
With all of these in the front of your binder, you'll know exactly where to look for each section of the trial.
Table of Contents
The table of contents will give you a directory of sorts. If someone states something you weren't expecting, you can check the table of contents and quickly flip to that section of the trial binder.
You should always have phone numbers, emails, and names for the people involved in the case. This may include the judge, clerks, attorneys, your client, witnesses, experts, and the opposing counsel.
In the case summary section of the binder, you will have the factual and legal issues you are presenting. A summary of everything the court case will be discussing is right here in the front of the binder.
Binder Organization For the Pleadings, Discovery, and Pretrial
It can be pretty easy to throw together the papers you will be using for all three of the pleadings, discovery, and pretrial. But that doesn't keep you organized. As a bonus, while you organize, you can put together a Players List that helps with determining witnesses and any other crucial people to the case, as well as a case chronology to put together any extra evidence you have.
You should have tab dividers for the three of these.
In your Pleadings section, you will house your complaint, answer, and counterclaim.
For the Discovery tab, you should put in any information you have for interrogations or orders on discovery motions.
Within the Pretrial section of your binder, you can organize any major orders including the Pretrial order.
Pending motions are any type of evidence that you or the opposing side wants in or out of the trial. Keeping a section of pending motions is one of the best binder organization tips for your trial.
While gathering the necessary paperwork for this section of your binder, you are also getting up to speed about different pieces of evidence that will be used in the trial.
Once you are in court, there will be several types of motions. There may be a motion to dismiss. This means that the judge dismisses a case or a piece of evidence because there is not enough of it.
There may also be motions to suppress. This may occur if the police made a search without probable cause. Any evidence in this search can be motioned to suppress or stay out of the court case.
With all motions in court, you can add any to your binder as they come up.
This section of your binder will be mostly blank at the start, although you should add tab dividers into this section to keep it organized. This is where you will write down all of your notes on the jury and things you find out as you go through the case.
You should have a tab for the different juror profiles so you know who each person is and what they stand for. You should also have a section on the outline of Voir Dire questions.
Another tab should be created in your binder for an extra section to take notes during the trial. You should have a jury panel chart that outlines each one where you can take notes on what is being said or responses by each.
Probably one of the most important parts of your binder, the opening statement will keep you organized for when you need to speak in court. Make a section for the outline of the opening statement, one for the opening statement itself, and then add any charts you will be using in court to support your side.
Witness Examination and Exhibits
Within these sections, you will probably have the most amount of tab dividers to keep track of this part of the trial.
For each witness, you'll want a different section. Within each, you should include the key questions to ask, any exhibits for each, and the copies of a subpoena for each.
On top of the witness list, you will want to have a section for all exhibits you will be using. This section should be kept in numbered order with many details for your use during the trial.
Just like you had an opening statement section, you will also want a section of the binder for a closing statement. You can include your statement, any props, and a section to keep notes as the trial progresses in case you need to add any information at the end.
Ready For Better Binder Organization and Better Court Cases?
Organizing your binder for court will help keep you in tip-top shape for winning your case.
You won't be flipping back and forth or scrambling to find a piece of paper you need to help with your defense. Instead, you'll be cool, calm, and collected at all times, which will help you win the case you've been working so hard on.
If you need help putting together a binder, our support team is always here to help you pick out the best tabs and supplies for your binder!