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In the courtroom, winning depends as much on the documents in evidence as the testimony of the witnesses or the skill of the lawyers. Yet the typical exhibit list in most trials contains an undifferentiated listing of documents that often does little more than dump every deposition and summary judgment exhibit onto the exhibit list. These undifferentiated exhibit lists interfere with the trial lawyer’s most important job: telling the story of the case.

There is a better way. Trial courts should encourage, if not order, lawyers to use storyboard exhibit lists to outline the story of the case. Imagine the hypothetical breach-of-contract case of Flintstone v. Rubble. A simplified storyboard exhibit list looks something like this:

No. Description
Fred and Barney strike a deal
1 “Let’s meet Friday” email, 2/1/13
2 “We have a deal” email, 2/3/13
Barney fails to deliver the widgets
3 “We have some problems, Fred” email, 11/16/2013
4 Foreclosure notice from Bedrock Bank, 11/16/2013
Fred’s damages
5 Lost profits calculations of Joe Rockhead, CPA
6 Market data from Joe Rockhead, CPA

Of course, large trials often involve far more exhibits, often hundreds. Storyboarding these exhibits in the list is essential in large cases in at least three important respects.

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