“You never really understand a person until you consider things form his point of view — until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
— Atticus Finch
There was a time when I thought I knew what juries were thinking when I tried cases. But after speaking with numerous jurors after trial and performing post-trial juror surveys through questionnaires, I realized that I had a lot to learn about juror behavior.
We began several years ago employing jury experts to conduct research on primarily our larger cases. Jury studies can be very expensive, and not every case can justify the cost associated with outsourced projects. A few years ago, after a great deal of thought and consideration, we began conducting jury studies on our own, which we could perform at a fraction of the cost. The importance of developing our jury study program is that now we can test an issue in a case for a very reasonable investment of time and money. This allows us to professionally study a larger percentage of our cases, thus providing greater value to our clients.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of conducting numerous jury studies over the years is the cumulative knowledge that is gained through observing and interacting with hundreds of unbiased thinkers who represent the jury pool for particular jurisdictions. We are always learning more and more about jury behavior and the interplay with legal matters.
There are times when we will test a case multiple times concerning multiple issues in order to solidify our opinions of a case. This can help influence the direction we may take during the discovery phase of litigation, and shape the theme of a case early in the process. It can also help us hone in on defenses that are important, and those that are “red herrings”.
Ultimately, jury research enhances our ability to advise our clients based on reliable and objective data.
Insurance adjusters and defense counsel often tell us that a client’s case has “this problem” or “that limitation”. Jury research allows us to evaluate those positions to determine if they should be legitimate concerns, or if we can focus on other aspects of the case. We also take the offensive when we feel that the other side failed to recognize the appeal of a certain positive in our client’s case. We are confident that our methodology unveils the positives and the negatives of our clients’ cases in a reliable way. Generally speaking, our research has played out to be accurate in jury trial results.
Whether you have experience with this type of research or not, I can genuinely suggest that, regardless of your role in a legal matter – be it a client, adjuster or attorney – you will serve yourself well to know what those who will ultimately be deciding the outcome believe.