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The Major League

May 25th, 2021|

My family is a baseball family. My dad, the late Park T. Pigott, Sr. played baseball, coached baseball, and generally speaking, lived much of his life for baseball. I am not usually fond of sports analogies, however, recent experiences with clients of Magnus Research Consultants have reminded me of baseball. Almost all of Magnus’ clients “play in the major league,” in that they are trial lawyers and litigators who are at the pinnacle of their legal career, with cases of a substantial magnitude that warrant retaining a trial consultant. Our most recent client, as one example, is a criminal

Politics of Litigation

May 20th, 2021|

Magnus is hired for many reasons. To evaluate the liability issues in the case. To assess the damages potential. To determine at whom to point fingers. To get a plaintiff to understand the realities of their case. To get a defendant to understand the realities of their case. Is it a case to try? Is it a case to settle? For insurance adjusters, how can I get my supervisor and her/his supervisor, to authorize settlement? Or, should we fight it at trial? Only in this last example, learned years ago, did I ever get an inkling of an idea

Holiday Inn

May 18th, 2021|

I wish it were possible to know the number of Holiday Inns where I have stayed and the number of nights I have stayed in them. When my parents and I traveled across the “lower 48″ states in the United States, our hotel of choice was Holiday Inn. Often, we planned our itinerary around the location of Holiday Inns. I loved swimming in the pool in every Holiday Inn we visited. Those were the days! In my work as a trial consultant since 1989, my travels have taken me across the United States, from Alaska to the U.S. Virgin

Retainers

May 13th, 2021|

Call it a deposit; call it a retainer. Magnus doesn’t start work without one (except in rare circumstances beyond the scope of this post). We need money, we want money; importantly, other people want money. We learned, the hard way, that clients need to “show us the money.” One of our first cases blew up on us and the client pulled the plug after we started spending our money on his behalf (and we had little to spend in year 1). He cost us what seemed like a fortune at the time and we never heard from him again.

Bystander apathy

May 11th, 2021|

Why do some people help others in need while other people appear to ignore the suffering of another person? What factors make it likely that bystanders will intervene when a stranger is in obvious need of help, for example, while being attacked in a public place? What is the impact of other people on the willingness of someone to help a stranger in distress? These, and related, questions have been asked and answered by social psychologists over the past 50 years. In fact, the bystander effect, also known as bystander apathy, is one of the most frequently researched topics

Heuristical thinking

May 5th, 2021|

Biases and heuristics often, but not always, go hand in hand. While bias is attributed to the absence of reflective thought, leading to limitations in judgment, heuristics are used intentionally when making inferences. Heuristics are common sense reasoning strategies employed by laypersons. They are “shortcuts” that accelerate the decision making process. Heuristics may or may not be based on logic and they may or may not lead to the correct decision. Heuristics have been extensively researched by social psychologists (and economists) since the 1970s. Magnus’ reports often include the heuristics employed by mock jurors when they deliberate on a case.

Social desirability

April 27th, 2021|

Social desirability has important implications in jury selection. Social desirability refers to the phenomenon of saying or doing something because “everybody else” does. For example, when an attorney or a judge asks a prospective juror whether he/she can put aside all biases, predisposed beliefs, and personal feelings and instead, be an impartial judge of the facts of the case being tried based on the law and the evidence, the socially desirable answer is “Yes.” Few among us want other people to believe or know, with certainty, that we are biased, have already made up our minds about the defendant’s

Hard Work

April 15th, 2021|

Always learning – that’s the reality of life, and in operating a business. A lesson learned many years ago happened when we hired a young woman as a research associate. She fit all of our hiring criteria for education, background, etc. She was attractive and well dressed. Her appearance was important to her as evidenced by her manicure. She didn’t work at Magnus long; she resigned, in part, because of the physical aspect of lugging our equipment around and setting it up. But, worse, she broke a fingernail when doing so! It occurred to us then that we needed to

Hiding behind Email

April 1st, 2021|

Prompted by my posts about “different direction” and “ghosting,” a related phenomenon is hiding behind email, especially as a way to deliver bad news. Maybe it is just me, but it seems a matter of professionalism and fairness that, if one asks someone else to do something like prepare a proposal for consulting services, the asker should be willing to talk with the proposal preparer after receiving it. Proposals are not free; there are real costs associated with them. Even if it’s only the paper on which the original is printed then scanned, there is a cost; sending a hard

Sorting out responses and non responses

March 4th, 2021|

A few months ago, Melissa and I were talking with one of our favorite clients, Buddy Schulz, when he commented that Melissa’s job during jury selection involved sorting out responses, and non responses, of potential jurors. He was noting that it is one thing to evaluate what someone says during jury selection (or perhaps with any interaction, including job interviews, interrogations, etc.). But, it is clearly another thing to “hear” what they don’t say, that is, what they are not telling you. As a trial lawyer, or trial consultant, during that short period when the jurors can talk, known