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Disconfirming Stereotypes

July 10th, 2018|

Many people, including those who should know better, use stereotypes as a basis for making important decisions. Although, by definition, stereotypes can contain “a kernel of truth” (according to Dr. Gordon Allport, who coined the term), they are often incomplete and sometimes, wrong. A recent conversation with one of my clients prompts this post. The client, a well respected and experienced trial lawyer, called me recently to ask me whether I would agree with the premise that millennials are terrible jurors for plaintiffs in personal injury cases because they are self centered, entitled, uncaring, and cold hearted. I responded that,

Busy is Good!

July 5th, 2018|

Being busy is a good thing when you own your own business, law practice, etc. I find it interesting, though, that other people do not share my perspective. From time to time, when speaking with someone who doesn’t quite appreciate that busy is good, I try to understand why. When this happens, the person to whom I’m speaking is usually not the firm owner, but rather, a staff member. I get it; sometimes the person’s pay does not change regardless of how busy he/she is, though often it does. Several incidents stick in my mind. One was a client’s paralegal

Checking the Price Tag

June 28th, 2018|

The old adage “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” doesn’t apply to litigation. In part, this is because, especially in the context of civil litigation, affordability is not decided by the buyer. Buyers (insurance claims adjusters, for example) usually operate as if there is no price tag to check. We have worked with hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of these types of buyers and they have methods they use as a part of their case evaluation to figure what they consider a “reasonable price” to resolve the case – that is, “buying” the claim. It may

Lawyers play chess; jurors play video games

June 21st, 2018|

I “appropriated” the title of this post from a litigation graphics consultant I heard speak recently at a Florida Bar function. I thought she was on to something with this simple, contrasting, perspective. Litigation is a “game” of strategy, and like good chess players, litigators are good at these strategies. They can move all of the pieces as they file and answer the pleadings, take depositions, attend hearings, and participate in mediation, and more. These traditional activities do resemble the strategic actions and decisions in a game like chess. The game changes, however, when it comes to playing “games” with

O.J. Simpson’s Contribution to Trial Consulting

June 7th, 2018|

The topic of O.J. Simpson came up recently in a discussion I recently had about the world of trial consulting. The murder of O.J.’s former wife, and the subsequent trial, was one of the first televised celebrity mega trials. For better, or worse, almost everyone was aware of the accusations against O.J. in that case. The impact on the practice of law in America was tremendous. Millions of people followed every minute of the trial, heard every ruling by Judge Ito, and every argument by the prosecuting attorney, Marcia Clark (who subsequently wrote a book) and the defense lawyers (Johnny

“You’re Not Cheap!”

June 5th, 2018|

I recently attended a meeting with an attorney, who is a client of mine, and the attorney’s client, the person who paid for my services. It is rare in my world of jury/trial consulting to attend a meeting that involves the “end client,” that is, the party to the litigation, as opposed to his/her/its attorney. (I include the pronoun, “its,” in that most of Magnus’ end clients are not individuals; rather, they are corporations represented by attorneys, who then retain my company.) The purpose of this meeting was to review an extensive written report I prepared, with the excellent help

CYA: Another Reason for a Mock Trial

May 31st, 2018|

CYA, 3 little letters about something important – self protection. Cover your ass – there, I’ve said it. I don’t know when I first realized that attorneys sometimes use a mock trial to protect themselves from their client. There are many reasons for a mock trial but it was perhaps the attorney who once told me “My client thinks the case is worth $200,000; I think it’s worth more than the $1,000,000 policy. One of us is wrong and we need to find out now, not in the courtroom.” This was a defense attorney and, over the years, both defense

“You’re Making Me Look Bad” (Because I Didn’t Read the Contract)

May 24th, 2018|

More often than one may think, I’ve been told by attorneys, who are the majority of our clients, that they never read our contract. This usually emerges when some detail “surprises” them. Yes, they received and later signed the contract to authorize our work. Yet, they often indicate that they did not see or understand some term or condition. The terms and conditions in our contract have evolved over the years as various clients have found ways to twist things to their advantage, that is, they try to take advantage of us and our work. And, while it is a

Courthouses

May 22nd, 2018|

I like courthouses. I also like libraries and art museums, but this post is about courthouses. In my career as a jury/trial consultant, I have spent countless days, hours, and minutes in courthouses, from Alaska to Florida. When I am working with attorneys during the jury selection process in trials, the courthouse and its courtrooms are my “office away from office.” Having had ample opportunity to sit on the uncomfortable benches located in most courthouse hallways while waiting for attorneys, judges, and jurors, I have often wondered why I am so comfortable in courthouses. Unlike most people I know, who

Not Telling Client About Proposal

May 17th, 2018|

Some of these posts are prompted by the puzzling events which occur when operating a business, especially one with high stakes, with litigious people, and the stressors of succeeding when facing tremendous pressure and challenges. I recently met with an attorney who asked me to meet with him about a case and ultimately requested a proposal. As I always do, I prepared and sent the proposal as promptly as possible and then made a follow up call to find out if he had any questions about my proposal. Many times, the next step is a conversation with the other attorneys