by Tony Klapper
Managing Director, Litigation Consulting
When I was a practicing lawyer, trying high-stakes cases in the major law firm world, many of my colleagues would often cast doubt on the need for jury consultants and mock trials. They would say that as experienced trial lawyers, they already had a good feel for a jury and for the art of persuasion. In addition, lawyers would argue that very few reliable conclusions could be drawn from the attitudes and outlooks of a small number of mock jurors. Actually, this is a rather short-sighted way to approach the topic. A jury consultant can add immeasurable value to a trial team’s efforts in any number of ways. Here are five of them:
- Theme development. Working with a mock jury provides invaluable research into what themes will work with the actual jury and what themes will not work. The mock jury will get a chance to hear several proposed themes for your side, as well as the way in which the opposition can be expected to rebut those themes. Interviewing the mock jurors will shed considerable light on what works for them, emotionally, and what does not.
- Message clarity. Many lawyers on a trial team get lost in the weeds and develop countless lines of information without any concern for whether they contribute to their side’s main narrative. It is very easy to review documents for their own sake without any consideration of why they should care about the documents. A mock trial will force all those attorneys to focus on the facts that really matter to their case and will provide the needed discipline.
- Development of visuals. A mock trial is a trial run for your visuals as well as for your theme development. It’s a way of “pressure-testing” the litigation graphics that your side has planned to use and seeing if they work in the real world. Ask your mock jurors whether or not the proposed visuals did enough to make the complex ideas of the case easy to understand for a nonlawyer. If they jurors are still perplexed about your case, they will tell you that in no uncertain terms. Be prepared to ditch the graphics that you have been using and to develop different ones, or to add new ones.
- Juror attitudes. After a mock trial, you will have a much better idea of what kinds of people are not going to be good jurors for your side. By interviewing the jurors after the mock, you will get a sense of whose world view will fit in perfectly with your message and whose view is quite the opposite to your message. You will never have a real jury that’s 100 percent on your side, but a mock trial will help you increase that percentage. Those jurors who see the world the way you do can and will be your “advocates” on the jury during deliberations.
- Support for your recommendations. Sometimes you as a trial consultant will have some difficulty getting your client to accept your view of the case. A mock trial can provide the support that you may need. A mock jury is another set of eyes that will evaluate your case independently and may see things the way that you do. In any case, a mock trial is a good way for everyone on your team to park their egos and listen.
Articles from A2L Consulting about jury consulting, mock trials, litigation consulting, and trial consulting:
- Jury Selection: Should You Follow Your Instincts About a Juror?
- 7 Questions You Must Ask Your Mock Jury About Litigation Graphics
- 6 Types of Jurors That Can Fly Under the Radar
- 10 Things Every Mock Jury Ever Has Said
- Why Listening to Data - Not Gut - Pays Off at Jury Selection
- 10 Signs of a Great Jury Questionnaire
- 10 Ways to Lose Voir Dire
- Do I Need a Local Jury Consultant? Maybe. Here are 7 Considerations.
- 10 Ways to Spot Your Jury Foreman
- Jury Selection: So Few Strikes, So Much at Stake
- The Voir Dire Handbook | Free Download | A2L Consulting
- Jury Selection and Voir Dire: Don't Ask, Don't Know
- 7 Tips to Take “Dire” out of Voir Dire