One type of litigation consulting that is underused is the planning and conducting of a mock trial. A good litigation consultant can put together a mock trial that is every bit as real in appearance and challenges the litigation team as much as an actual trial.
After a mock trial, the whole team – lawyers, paralegals, trial graphics consultants, courtroom hot-seat operators and everyone else – is ready for trial. They have prepped fully for the mock trial just as if they were going to trial. Not only that, they have prepped both sides of the case. We find that truly wise clients with a lot on the line deeply appreciate the value of getting inside opposing counsel's case via a mock trial.
At A2L Consulting, our team organizes the mock trial (i.e. acquiring the venue and representative mock judges or mock jurors), prepares trial exhibits, courtroom technology, PowerPoint presentations, trial timelines, and whatever is needed for both sides of the case in a mock trial.
So just as our trial team becomes prepared to deal with the other side’s legal case and its witnesses, it figures out how to tackle the trial graphics that the other side is likely to use.
A mock trial can have many advantages:
- Interviews with or real-time measurement of the mock judge or mock jury can show what is most persuasive, and what is the least persuasive, in counsel's presentation well before the actual trial.
- The client or in house counsel has a real opportunity to judge the match of litigator to their case when they observe a mock trial.
- A mock trial can help establish a dollar range for the settlement value of the case.
- The trial team can learn what themes need more explanation, foundation or visual and graphic development.
- As we said earlier, getting inside the opposition's case leads to discovering its strengths and weaknesses allowing counsel to better prepare defenses, trial graphics and best structure their case for a win.
- Finally, with trials becoming quite rare for litigators in large law firms, mock trials are a good place for lawyers to hone their trial skills.
As Ken Broda-Bahm, senior litigation consultant at Persuasion Strategies, says: “We are used to seeing mock trials as essential steps in trial preparation -- to discover your strengths and weaknesses, test and refine your message, and gain irreplaceable live practice -- but today, when goals often focus on dispute resolution rather than trial, focus groups and other mock jury exercises are vital tools of case assessment. They help you analyze and quantify your risks and benefits, and serve as a critical supplement to the gut check that attorneys and clients apply to all cases, including the majority that settle.”
Broda-Bahm notes that “the expense of jury research project can strike some as high, but in complex litigation, the cost of a well-run project is just a tiny fraction of what is at stake. Cost-wise, it is a rounding error, but benefit-wise, it is a good way to invest in your case, your client-relationship, and your ultimate message at trial or mediation.”
As Milwaukee attorney Paul Scoptur said in an article on the website of the State Bar of Wisconsin, “You don’t want to find out what 12 people think about your case on the first day of trial. That’s a little late.”
For more A2L on-site resources related to organizing a mock trial, please see:
- Testing Graphics in a Mock Trial Setting
- Researching Your Judge Before a Real or Mock Trial
- 10 Videos Our Mock Trial Consultants Recommend
- Focus Groups Contrasted with a Mock Trial
- Learn More About A2L Jury Consulting Services
- More about a Mock Trial from A2L Consulting