Social Psych = Groups = Juries

December 6th, 2022|

Over the years, many people have asked me what makes me qualified to work as a jury/trial consultant. I explain that I have a Ph.D. in social psychology, which is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by other people and situations. Social thinking, social influence, and social behavior are studied by my colleagues and me, with the goal of understanding the ways in which individual and group behavior is influenced by others’ presence and behavior. In consideration of the fact that a jury is comprised of individual jurors, who must work together to

Almost Like Cheating

November 24th, 2022|

I keep a list of things clients have said during or after working with us on mock jury research. These tidbits illustrate the eye opening reactions some attorneys have when observing jurors deliberate. One of my favorites was from (now retired) Pete Burkert in Fort Myers, FL. After a series of mock juries, he said, excitedly, “It’s almost like cheating!” He was thrilled to know what resonated with typical jurors so that he could customize his case presentation. Knowing potential outcomes is one thing. Learning how to talk to a jury in their language is, however, critical in achieving

Premature Decisions

November 3rd, 2022|

Several recent client/case events prompted this post. My biased view of litigation is that it is best done when as much input (a.k.a. data) is considered. This includes data from various experts, but also data from mock juries used to evaluate the risks of litigation. The first example is with a case that settled prior to the scheduled mock jury research. We are rarely privy to settlement decisions, including how much was paid/received, etc., but what I do know is that mock jury research would provide considerable direction as to what is a “good settlement.” A “good settlement” is

Fronting Money for Clients

July 14th, 2022|

One thing we learned the hard way, many years ago, is that advancing money on behalf a client is risky. On one of our first cases, we were given the verbal go ahead by an associate level attorney whose boss had told him to do so. We were very excited to work with this attorney, whom we had known for about 2 years. He was an interesting guy, a successful plaintiff’s lawyer, and we’d talked directly with him about the case. I wrote a check to our jury recruiter, advancing the up front cost to the recruiter on behalf of

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

June 16th, 2022|

“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is a phrase used to suggest one should relax, chill out, and not worry about the little things, things which sometime seem out of one’s control. Well, that’s great. But, our “day job” as trial consultants doesn’t allow it. Neither does my prior advocation, photography. For example, when photographing people at events, the photographer has to watch the person’s expression; if it is a group of people, it is even more challenging. The photographer has to look at the eyes, the smiles, the hands, feet, etc. Ensuring things are in focus and that there

Are They Paying Attention?

June 9th, 2022|

My post about whether the mock jurors take it seriously reminded me of another aspect of this client related surprise. Watching a group of people, mock jurors, listen to the case arguments in a mock trial can sometimes be misleading. Some mock jurors are clearly engaged, others have their eyes closed, others are frantically taking notes, some are squinting (perhaps because they forgot their glasses), and others are making eye contact with the attorneys, even smiling at them. All of these visual cues are subject to being misread. Often, attorneys come into the observation room and comment on their perceptions

Do They Always Take it Seriously?

June 2nd, 2022|

A client, who had never observed a Magnus mock trial, asked the question which is the title of this post during a recent mock trial. The “they” is the mock jurors. The “it” is the case. The answer is YES! The rest of the story is that, despite the mock jurors knowing they are only to be present for a limited period of time, they “get into it.” They are told they are discussing an actual, active, case (for ethical reasons, we tell them the truth). Magnus’ jurors are randomly recruited for our mock juries and focus groups; they

The Problem With This Case is the Client.

May 26th, 2022|

An attorney client of ours recently told Melissa that his client is a problem. He said, “the problem with this case is my client.” He was pretty direct, but we’ve heard this, or some variation thereof, countless times. In this case, the client is wealthy (and accustomed to getting his way as a result). He’s “cocky” arrogant, and dismissive of other people’s opinions. He isn’t well educated, meaning he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and, rather than trying to learn from those who can educate him about the legal issues he is facing, his insecurities lead him to trying

Commercial Litigation: Benefits of a Trial Consultant, Part 3

May 12th, 2022|

In the 3rd post in the commercial litigation series, I want to bring some points together. We’ve discussed that executives are accustomed to being in charge, to being the “boss,” and that as litigants, it is often frustrating for them not to be. Also discussed is the fact their perspective may not align with decision makers’ perspectives, that is, arbitrators, juries or judges. The benefit of the reality check is a part of that perspective adjustment. Finally, in this post, I want to add another way in which commercial cases are unique. While insurance may or may not be involved,

Commercial Litigation: Benefits of a Trial Consultant, Part 2

May 5th, 2022|

This is part 2 of the benefits of a jury or trial consultant in commercial litigation. As noted in the prior post, in commercial litigation, high powered people are often involved. We have been involved in many cases in which these parties were “out for blood.” Even though the cases were “only about money,” the litigation became personal. These parties wanted their “pound of flesh.” Commercial litigation can get ugly. The perspectives of the parties are often skewed by these factors. The longer the litigation takes, the “hotter” some of these people become because they want their day in court