Litigation Tips Archive

The Effectiveness of Premediation Jury Research

Increasingly, attorneys commission jury research prior to making important settlement decisions.  Conducting premediation attitude surveys, focus groups, and mock trials allows an assessment of the value of the case, including the strengths and weaknesses of both liability and damages theories, prior to evaluating a demand or offer.  Premediation jury research also provides a reality check for clients so that they will recognize the likely outcome of the trial in the event the case is not resolved during mediation.  Premediation, jury research is an effective and efficient means of managing cases.

Contact Magnus  to learn more about the effectiveness of premediation jury research. 

The “Do it Now” Philosophy of Jury Research

Magnus Research Consultants’ Director of Research, Dr. Melissa Pigott, has been conducting scientific studies of juries for decades. During this time, one of the most frequent questions she has been asked by attorneys pertains to the optimum timing for jury research. As with many things in psychology, the answer is, “it depends,” based on the overall goal of the jury research. However, generally speaking, sooner, rather than later, is the best time to conduct jury research.
The primary benefit of conducting jury research early in the litigation process is obtaining information about the case from the perspective of the decision makers, the people who are a representative sample of jurors. Often, experienced litigators and trial lawyers, as well as insurance adjusters, risk managers, and corporate representatives, judge the facts of a case from a narrow perspective based on experiences which are vastly different from the experiences of the average person. Learning about a case from the perspective of mock juries, comprised of people who have no training in the law, insurance, or areas related to the lawsuit, provides valuable information that cannot be obtained through any other source. On countless occasions, Magnus has worked on cases for clients who are self described skeptics at the outset and who, after listening to the input provided by the mock jurors or research participants, express the belief that the information they gained could not have been gathered by any other means. Magnus can say, with 100% accuracy and confidence, that we have never had an attorney or an attorney’s client tell us that the information provided by us as a result of our jury research was not helpful for trial preparation purposes.
An interesting criticism that has been made over the years is that we were not forceful enough in explaining to new clients all of the reasons why doing jury research as soon as possible is in their best interests, as well as in the best interests of their client. For some attorneys, “seeing (or hearing) is believing,” such that it is difficult to fully appreciate the benefits of being able to tailor one’s case in a way that anticipates what the jury wants to know. Once the “aha!” phenomenon is activated, these attorneys tell Magnus that we should have insisted they conduct jury research as soon as possible, well before discovery is finished, so that they can base their trial strategies on real, scientific data instead of hunches about how a jury will respond to the case facts.
In recent years, most of Magnus’ clients have moved away from conducting jury research immediately before trial and instead, are retaining us well before mediation (and arbitration). The preparation that goes into mock jury research, including fine tuning jury instructions and drafting the verdict form, is largely the same as trial preparation, such that the attorney who conducts jury research has a head start on the trial. In general, there is no time like NOW to conduct jury research.

Contact Magnus to schedule your jury research, and the sooner, the better.

The Essential Nature of Jury Research

Over the years, Magnus has found that some attorneys view jury research as the “icing on the cake”; sometimes, these attorneys believe they can do without the icing/jury research. Although we recognize some cases do not warrant research, we also know many attorneys and/or their clients underestimate what they will gain from the jury research process. Of all the costs associated with litigation, properly conducted case specific jury research has one of the greatest benefits to attorneys by ensuring the outcome of the case is maximized. Magnus has seen many cases in which jury research would have made a tremendous difference in the outcome. Testing one’s case for the first time in the courtroom is never a wise strategy. It is far better to conduct pretrial or premediation jury research to allow adjustments to be made in overall strategy or to reconsider settlement alternatives. Magnus strongly believes jury research is not the “icing”, but an essential ingredient in your case.

Contact Magnus to find out why jury research is an essential part of your case preparation.

Effective Case Evaluation

Many of our clients ask us when we believe is the best time to conduct jury research. If the attorney believes the case will definitely go to trial and that mediation will not be productive, waiting until after mediation may make sense. However, more often than ever before, attorneys are retaining Magnus for premediation jury research. Premediation jury research allows the attorney to effectively evaluate the case early in the litigation process, prior to making the substantial expenditures necessary to take the case to trial. Premediation jury research provides an efficient, cost effective means of gaining valuable insights on the strengths and weaknesses of the case which can be used to evaluate the most effective mediation strategies. In any event, the sooner research is conducted, the sooner the findings can be incorporated into litigation strategy.

Call Magnus to find out more about effective case evaluation.

What Are You Waiting For?

Many attorneys wrongly believe jury research should be conducted “at the last minute,” “right before trial,” or “if the case doesn’t settle.” This type of thinking ensures the attorney will fail to derive maximum benefit from everything jury research has to offer. When investing time, money, and other resources into jury research, it is a good idea to conduct the research sooner, rather than later, in the litigation process. Magnus conducts research for many clients well in advance of the discovery cut off, to aid the attorney in conducting discovery around what the jury will want to know. At a minimum, jury research should be commissioned prior to mediation, so that the results can be used to develop strategies for use during mediation. Attorneys who wait until the last minute to do jury research often lament that they wish Magnus had forced them to conduct the research much sooner!

Don’t wait – contact Magnus early in your case preparation.

Using Jury Research to Settle Cases

There is a common misconception that, jury research including mock trials and focus groups should be utilized only for trial preparation purposes. Magnus often hears attorneys say, “if the case doesn’t settle, we will conduct jury research.” Jury research that is performed hastily, just prior to trial, is preferable to conducting no jury research, but the sooner the attorney commissions jury research, the greater its benefit for the trial team. In fact, for optimum benefit, jury research should be conducted early in the discovery process, so that discovery can include fact finding information to the decision makers (mediators/arbitrators). Jury research guarantees you will be in a stronger position than otherwise for both discovery and mediation. Conducting juror research early in the case also allows trial counsel to adjust case strategy based on the consultants analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in the case. Waiting until “the last minute” may work out well as a dress rehearsal for trial, but it never allows the attorney the maximum benefit of all that jury research has to offer. Another benefit derived from conducting jury research early in your case is to provide your client with a reality check that is often impossible once the trial date approaches. Overall, there is absolutely no downside to conducting jury research early in the case, prior to the start of settlement negotiations.

Contact Magnus to schedule your pre-mediation jury research. Don’t wait; contact us now!

The Advantage of Pre-Mediation Jury Research

Premediation attitude surveys and mock trials provide insight into how your case will be perceived by fact finders. Knowing their likely responses places you in a powerful position to make strategic mediation and settlement decisions.

Premediation jury research aids your assessment of liability and damages, which will have a direct effect on your negotiating position. You will be more effective in persuading your opposition and evaluating the terms of their demand or offer. Premediation research is also a valuable tool providing your clients a realistic preview about the likely case outcome.

Call Magnus to learn how pre-mediation surveys and mock trials can increase your litigation success.

Pre-testing Your Case Before Mediation or Arbitration

Magnus Research Consultants, Inc. is not exclusively in the jury research business.  Attorneys who are preparing their cases for arbitration or mediation are well advised to simulate their case in a non-jury forum.  In a high profile case in which neither side wanted the additional publicity associated with a jury trial, our client retained us to conduct a mock mediation.  Based on the detailed feedback we received from the mediators, as well as our analyses of surveys completed by the mediators, we assisted our client in making 180 degree changes in the presentation he had planned to make at the mediation.  Our client’s mediation presentation was changed considerably by what we learned in the mock mediation to the point that his case was ultimately resolved in an intensive mediation session.

When to Conduct Jury Research

Attorneys often ask when is the optimum time to conduct jury research. The answer is, “it depends.” There are several times during litigation to conduct jury research in a way to maximize knowledge gained from the process. Some attorneys conduct jury research before a case is filed, to determine whether it is worth pursuing. Most attorneys conduct jury research before discovery is completed, so that deposition questions can be posed to answer potential jurors’ concerns. Many attorneys now use jury research findings to aid them in the mediation process and/or to evaluate a case’s settlement value. Pre-trial jury research, although until recently the most common time for commissioning jury research, remains an appropriate time. It is important to remember, however, that jury research must be conducted early enough to allow even a total restructuring of the case, if warranted.

Contact Magnus to find out the best timing for your jury research.

Optimum Timing for Jury Research

It has been said that timing is everything. In litigation, this is absolutely true. Certainly, the timing of jury research is critical to the litigator’s effectiveness in utilizing the results. In order to maximize the findings, jury research should be conducted at least two months prior to trial, mediation, or arbitration. This is because Magnus prepares extensive written reports following jury research sessions that require review and implementation of the strategy and graphic recommendations made for trial/mediation/arbitration. Although jury research can be performed closer to trial, clients who retain Magnus early will achieve the maximum benefit from our work.

It is never too early to schedule your jury research.