2’s Company – Magnus Insights

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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

Help the Jury Succeed

May 3rd, 2018|

I subscribe to an email publication called the Jur-E Bulletin; it is published by the National Center for State Courts. It is a very informative publication and I recommend subscribing to it as you never know what tidbits will be there to be learned. Like a few other posts in our blog, this one was inspired by a story reported in the Jur-E Bulletin. Earlier this year, there was an article entitled “Helping Juries Succeed” which was originally published in the New Jersey Law Journal – it was written by attorney Jeffrey M. Pollock. The entire focus of the article


April 3rd, 2018|

I have heard some parents extol their children’s leadership abilities while, simultaneously, praising their children for not being a follower, “like everyone else.??? This dual conception of leadership, while it may appear on the surface to be accurate, is not supported by decades of social psychological research. Most widely accepted social psychological definitions of leadership explain it in a more fluid manner, suggesting that, because most of us have been able to influence other people at one time or another, we have the potential to be leaders in some situations and followers in other situations. In fact, this conceptualization of

The “Trial Show???

March 29th, 2018|

Two recent cases on which we conducted mock trials prompted this post. In the first, the lawyers presenting the case did so using 8×10 photographs of the incident scene which they held up in front of the group of mock jurors. No enlargement, no projection, just a photo. Post research, I attempted to “encourage??? the client to step it up to the next level and use more and different visuals – to use an electronic presentation at trial to ensure that everyone in the actual courtroom can see the photos and exhibits. But, these lawyers had never done such a


March 27th, 2018|

Leaders and leadership have been studied by social psychologists for decades. The most widely accepted definition of leader is a person who influences group activities. A leader is someone who uses social power to move others in a desired direction by getting other people to follow his/her suggestions or orders. Most people, at one time or another, have assumed leadership roles, in that they have been successful in influencing others. In order for someone to be an effective leader, he/she must be similar to the other group members, as well as be perceived by them as one of the best

Impression Management, part 2: Snap Judgments

March 22nd, 2018|

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (January 31, 2018, page A9), “The Mistakes You Make in a Meeting’s First Milliseconds,” by Sue Shellenbarger, prompted me to think about first impressions in the courtroom. And, particularly, the jurors’ first impressions of the attorneys. While the attorneys’ first impressions of jurors and witnesses, both fact and expert, are important, my first thoughts were how the jurors perceive the attorneys. As the article points out, impressions are often formed quickly, as soon as people see each other for the first time. In many situations, this occurs when a person enters a

The New World Order

March 8th, 2018|

Melissa and I have attempted do two things consistently with the posts we write. First, we try to be tactful, and not insult anyone. Second, we strive to be timeless, not dating our posts by the topic. This post breaks the 2nd rule, but hopefully, not the first objective. The topic is what some have identified as a change in the global order that began with the campaign and election of our current president, Donald J. Trump. Though U.S. politics have been polarized to some degrees for many election cycles, there is no denying that the current level of polarization

Bargaining and negotiation

March 6th, 2018|

Bargaining is a social psychological phenomenon that I observe in every mock jury research project I conduct. Rarely do the mock jurors reach unanimity without considerable back and forth discussions. According to social psychological theory, bargaining involves situations with the following characteristics: (1) the parties involved have divergent interests; (2) some form of communication by the parties is possible; and (3) the parties are able to make concessions. When a group of citizens is formed to comprise a jury of 6, 12, or another size, the 3 conditions listed above converge and ultimately, a verdict is reached. (Of course, when

Sleeping Beauties

March 1st, 2018|

The role of a trial juror is critical in American justice and yet, jurors are often criticized collectively by many trial lawyers and the general public. Being a juror is a difficult job; sitting in judgment of your fellow citizens can be very stressful, and trials are not nearly as exciting and fast paced as they seem on TV or in movies. They just aren’t! Never have been, never will be. But, in a world where attention spans are shorter than ever, new challenges emerge. Keeping the jurors “entertained???, and therefore, awake, has never been more important. A December 2017


February 27th, 2018|

Social psychologists often refer to the “3 Cs of Attitude Change”: conformity, consistency, and commitment. Previous posts have discussed the first two factors, conformity and consistency, and the current post will address the third factor, commitment. Commitment is the process by which people take a stand for or against a certain issue. Commitment to an attitude can be private or public, with private attitudes being more amenable to change than those expressed in a public forum. When someone is committed to a position, it usually means he/she has: made a public statement about the position; taken action consistent with the