Faegre Drinker counsel David Kent and Gary R. Giewat, Ph.D. — director of research for American Jury Centers, a trial and communication consulting firm in Hailey, Idaho — wrote an article for the American Bar Association (ABA) titled “Effective Use of Jury Consultants.” The authors answer a question many attorneys and clients ask: “Why do I need a jury consultant?”
Kent and Giewat detail how engaging a jury consultant early and effectively in the pretrial phase can improve an attorney’s ability to present a compelling narrative at trial. They explain that while attorneys understand the case at hand, their client, the law and the procedure, jury consultants understand human behavior and communication and can use research and social science “tools” to assist the trial team.
According to the authors, focus groups are a relatively quick and inexpensive research tool, and “mock trials offer a more in-depth form of pretrial research.” Moreover, “bulletin boards and similar survey tools” provide other forms of online research.
In addition to these research methods, the authors describe how trial consultants “can provide invaluable assistance in helping witnesses prepare to testify.” Trial consultants can also assist attorneys with the jury selection process.
The authors further discuss both trial and post-trial activities. They explain how “some attorneys find it useful to receive ongoing feedback from a consultant observing the case in progress” during the trial. And after a trial is over, jury consultants can “follow up on a jury’s verdict by conducting post-trial interviews” to provide insight to the trial team.
In conclusion, the authors state that while litigation experience is valuable, “trial consultants offer a unique set of skills and experience that enhance an attorney’s ability to effectively try a case” and advocate for their client.