2’s Company – Magnus Insights

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Confirmation Bias, Part 2

July 11th, 2019|

In thinking about my prior post on confirmation bias, I thought about one aspect of being hired as a professional trial consultant. It happens that I recently saw an announcement of a bar association seminar on do it yourself (DIY) mock trials. I know that mock trials are often expensive when conducted by a qualified trial consultant (what constitutes the distinction of “qualified” has been the topic of other posts). I get it, sometimes a case does not warrant the cost of a professional. But just as other DIY projects, DIY mock juries often suffer from the lack of expertise

Confirmation Bias, Part 1

July 4th, 2019|

I read an article recently about confirmation bias and how it negatively impacts social science research and progress. Confirmation bias is “the tendency to seek, interpret, and create information in ways that verify existing beliefs.” (Brehm & Kassin, Social Psychology, 1989. Which is, coincidentally, a textbook for which Melissa co-authored the Instructor’s Manual and Study Guide.) Confirmation bias happened when one sticks to what one already believes despite conflicting, or contradictory, information. Often, the initial belief is based on incomplete information or, perhaps, new information is developed over time that is contrary to the old information. It is not always

It’s all Marketing

June 27th, 2019|

I will admit, I probably have a bias. Both my undergraduate and graduate business degrees had a strong emphasis on marketing. Therefore, in the context of operating a small business, I am cognizant of details that create impressions. As a result, it seems to me that almost everything done in a business is marketing. The way the phone is answered creates an impression. The look of a proposal is marketing. The tidiness of a piece of mail that will land in someone’s hands. The absence of typos in a report. The look of the brochure, the report, the website, or

Dress for Success

June 25th, 2019|

In the 1980s, “Dress for Success” was in vogue for people (although, it seems, primarily women) who wanted to achieve status in the world of business. There were books about how to dress for success, as well as seminars and other related products. My (then) employer enrolled me, along with other female executives, in a Dress for Success seminar, where we spent a day learning about the colors that accentuated our appearance, how to conduct ourselves in meetings, and generally, proper attire and etiquette in our professional lives. Once again, thanks to my mother, I was miles ahead of the

Jury Consultants Are Not Just for Jury Trials

June 20th, 2019|

In the vein of prior posts, this is an attempt to clarify another misconception about what we do as trial or jury consultants. Usually in the context of an introduction, I hear what might be called “sales objections.” There are varieties of these objections, but one is this, if introduced as a “jury consultant” I sometimes hear a retort, “Well, we never do jury trials, we only _______.” The blank is typically either “settle our cases at mediation,” “do bench trials” or “resolve cases in arbitrations.” For the first one, see the prior post, Trial Consultants Are Not Just for

Trial Consultants Are Not Just for Trials

June 13th, 2019|

It happened again. I am introduced to a new, prospective client, a lawyer at a very large firm – one with a nationwide presence, hundreds of lawyers, and many offices. This is the kind of attorney whom I assume understands the concept of what a trial consultant does. But, no. I send an email introduction and the response is “…I’ll keep you in mind if we ever get to the trial stages of a case – very rare at a firm like this.” I know it is rare, and the truth is most of our work is conducted way before

First impressions (do matter)

June 4th, 2019|

First impressions matter. They really do! Social psychologists who study impression formation and cognitive psychologists who study presentation order effects, such as the primacy effect, agree that information presented early has a greater impact than information presented later. Impression formation has been heavily researched in social psychology since the 1940s, when Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments in which research participants received a list of personality traits that described someone. The results of these studies revealed that the information presented first had more impact on people’s impressions of others than information presented later. Since these ground breaking studies, considerable

Analytics

May 30th, 2019|

Melissa and I had lunch with a long time client recently during which he brought up a “new” thing he hears from his clients. That is, give us the “analytics” on the case. Analytics is a concept that gets lots of airplay in various contexts. The business world has long focused on numbers to indicate performance on various measures. These are analytics. Polls, like political polls, can also be counted as analytics of success. Marketing research on a variety of products and services can indicate likely success and profit (though not always; anyone remember “New Coke”?) We have written 2

Like “Bull,” but without the Bull

May 28th, 2019|

At the time of this writing, there is a popular television show that is loosely based on the life of a well known celebrity who used to work as a jury/trial consultant. The title of the show is “Bull,” and based on what I have seen, the show contains more “bull” than truth. However, because most TV shows are made for entertainment, not education, the liberties taken by the show’s writers are much the same as those taken on shows that depict other professions. For example, who believes “General Hospital” was an accurate depiction of what it is like to

Cleaning the Closet

May 2nd, 2019|

When we have lulls in “real work,” we have a to do list that keeps us from getting bored. At the top of that list recently was cleaning out the equipment closet. The equipment closet is where we store an array of items required for our work. You might think, by looking in our closet, that we’re an audio-visual company. (We’re not, but video recordings are a big part of our “end product” or “deliverables.”) It contains video cameras, tripods, tons of cables, plus cargo cases to pack all of it for the road or for air travel. Though we’ve