2’s Company – Magnus Insights

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Passing the Baton

September 7th, 2017|

A mental concept that I utilize in our trial consulting work is one of that of passing a baton, as in a relay race. The flow of our engagements is such that we function as a team, with much of the work being done by one person at a time. Engagements usually begin with me doing a case intake, conflict check, and needs assessment. After those initial steps, a proposal is created, and skipping ahead, once we are retained, Melissa takes the baton from me to begin planning the project. The research day is all hands on deck and the

Gender Barriers

August 10th, 2017|

Recently an article appeared on the front page of the Sunday New York Times entitled “When Job Puts Sexes Together, Workers Cringe.” Great title – it called out for the story to be read. But, Melissa, who read it first, and I found the story shocking in terms of the data it reported. The data were from a large survey of over 5000 registered voters. The study focused on whether it was appropriate or inappropriate for people of opposite genders (not married to each other) to be alone in certain situations and the answers were broken down by gender. In

It doesn’t cost, it pays.

August 3rd, 2017|

I was speaking with someone recently who was lamenting about how cost is a factor in decisions, sometimes, with a penny wise and dollar (pound) foolish approach. This person quickly related a story about when he was buying a piece of equipment for his office and asked what it cost. The astute salesperson said, “it doesn’t cost, it pays…” I like that! (And, I told my new acquaintance that I was going to appropriate it for this post.) That is exactly the message I try to share with prospective clients. The cost of mock jury research (or whatever we are

Too many lawsuits, too many lawyers…

July 13th, 2017|

All of us who work with, for, or who are, lawyers, have heard it over and over, “there are too many lawyers/lawsuits” or “lawsuits are frivolous.” Sometimes this includes a reference to McDonald’s and coffee, but it is a comment that we at Magnus hear often in some form. I heard it recently when asked what I do for work – “I’m a trial consultant, all my clients are lawyers…” The person’s comments were along the above noted lines. That day I paused and then I explained that, in 25+ years consulting on cases, I can think of very few

Department of Justice Eyewitness Guidelines

July 6th, 2017|

As I noted in a previous post, research into eyewitness accuracy was a starting point in my business partner/wife’s study of psychology and the law. I suppose it is normal in the course of things that science, specifically psychology, was ahead of the law. Law is usually based on precedents, while social science is based experimentation and hard data. Well, as of 2017, the law took a big step forward to catch up and utilize the science of the past 50 or so years of study in this area. In January of 2017, the Deputy Attorney General for the United

Take Notes

July 4th, 2017|

Having been a student from the time I was 4 years old until I earned my Ph.D. at the age of 26, I learned how to take notes to document the important things in my life. My note taking abilities have served me well in my career. I have calendars dating back almost 40 years; if I need to know what I was doing on a particular day, it takes me mere minutes to look it up. I also write verbatim notes of conversations I have on the telephone, including with clients. My notes are dated and include a list

Ready for War

June 29th, 2017|

In the first few months of this year I have received several calls from attorneys looking to engage a trial consultant in what I consider to be ridiculously short time periods. Two cases will illustrate my point. First was a call from an associate attorney at one of the largest law firms in the state who was defending a significant and complex commercial case. The call came less than a month before trial and at a time the trial team was so slammed with last minute depositions and hearings that they really did not have time to conduct mock jury

Judges are People Too

June 22nd, 2017|

We recently wrote that lawyers are people too. It has been interesting for me to watch client reactions when Melissa occasionally finds herself needing to remind the attorney/clients that judges are people also. Once an attorney becomes a judge, and puts on the black (usually) robe, a new relationship develops between their former colleagues and them. Some of this is a matter of position power, some of it is to avoid conflicts of interest. Some new judges may let their power go to their head, but some of this is an artificially created perspective, which is the reason Melissa has

“No thanks” to Bad Clients

June 6th, 2017|

The older I get, the more I choose to spend time with nice people and the less time I choose to spend with mean people. My philosophy has evolved to include family members, spouses of family members, friends, spouses of friends, and clients. Even though clients, unlike the other categories of people I have listed, are paying me to spend time with them, I limit the time I spend with clients to those who conduct themselves in a professional manner, who treat my staff and me with respect, and who value my role on their trial team. I am not

Trial Consultants We Have Known

June 1st, 2017|

In any industry, business, or practice, one gets to know one’s colleagues/competitors. And, we have, in the past 30 years, seen the gamut of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Melissa started her career with Litigation Sciences, Inc. and many of the consultants who were affiliated with LSI remain among the top consultants in the country. There are many other highly educated, qualified consultants around the U.S. However, going forward on this post, I want to comment on some who fall into the bad and the ugly categories. Without naming names, I provide these examples because it sometimes seems