The Not-So-Easy Elevator Pitch


When I was a professional dancer, it was fairly easy to strike up a conversation about my occupation, although I found myself often qualifying as a “classical or ballet” dancer and not “that kind of dancer.” Since becoming a trial consultant, I find people are often confused about what I do and why it’s needed. I find myself offering a brief tutorial on why the movie Runaway Jury is not representative at all of the real world of trial consulting. So what is it? Trial consultants wear many hats!

A Consultant
Generally trained in psychology or social science, most consultants are not lawyers but there are a few who hold law degrees. They can consult in a variety of other social sciences settings as well, such as communication, business, marketing, education, entertainment, and sports. Usually, consultants help attorneys to decide which jurors offer the best psychological advantage to their client. Because of that, a trial consultant that works at selecting a jury should have an advanced degree in psychology.

A Researcher
Research often reveals how a potential juror would perceive the evidence in the case along with witnesses, the defendant, and the judge in a bench trial. Scanning social media platforms, conducting media meta analysis or other pretrial investigations can offer early insight that can help the attorney curate a position and argument that matches the anticipated juror perceptions of the case in a particular locale.

An Advisor
Consultants work with attorneys to research, investigate, experiment, and advise, along with study, test, read, and strategize. Many times, these activities are used specifically to help determine the strengths and weaknesses of a case on both sides, and the psychological insight required to make creative decision-making solutions to present the case at trial. Additionally, they perform mock trials, focus groups, study change of venue alternatives and even jury simulations in addition to helping in voir dire.

A Coach
Attorneys practice law, but rarely do they get to “practice” and even the most seasoned litigator has habits, personal mannerism, speech patterns that jurors may find off-putting. Coaching is one of the most underutilized services of consultants that would offer great benefits to most attorneys appearing in court.

The biggest misconception about consultants is they are only for large cases or celebrity trials and this unfortunately keeps many from inquiring about our services. To quote a client “If I had any idea I could get this level of expertise and insight for this reasonable rate, I would have started working with you years ago” Many consultants also offer pro bono service and many specialize in criminal work. The field is growing for a reason; the services work and make a difference both in and out of court. Perhaps its time to learn more about it and find out what you have been missing!

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