I’ve been on a bit of a “tear” lately about caveat emptor. Hiring a trial consultant requires due diligence because, unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to hold oneself out as a trial consultant. A lawyer, a physician, a plumber, an electrician or a hairstylist has to be tested and licensed. We don’t. While there has been a debate about this in a few states, I have concluded that licensing or “accrediting” would do little good and it certainly would not indicate whether the consultant would be a good hire for a given client/case. Instead, it is left to the consumer of the trial consulting services to do his/her homework. Check references, meet or talk with them, look at websites/brochures, determine how they approach the consulting or research assignment, etc. But, as pointed out in my post #418 “Is your consultant qualified? How do you know?”, deeper digging is required. Over the years, I’ve heard many “horror” stories of what I’m calling Shaman Trial Consultants for this post. Those with “fake” credentials – that is, those who mislead, or lie, about their credentials are the top of the list. There are consultants who don’t know how to minimize biases are on the list – like those who use in house employees, family and friends for the mock jurors. Some encourage one attorney to present both the plaintiff and defense side of a case – talk about confusing the jury! I’ve heard of some consultants who use the same batch of mock jurors for 2 or 3 cases in a row on the same day for 2 or 3 different cases, without ever revealing this to the client (who was not present). Why not just the same blood collection vials from patient to patient? I know of a trial consultant who changed a mock jury verdict because she thought it was out of line. Snake oil anyone? You probably get the idea by now. Do you want to bet your life, your client’s life, and your client’s case on someone who is a good salesperson or a solid, credentialed consultant? So, caveat emptor and good luck. Or just call Magnus. (I couldn’t resist!)
Just for the fun of it, I verified that a Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated Ph. D., is the highest academic degree awarded by any university. That’s right, dear reader, the highest degree. Whatever other degrees anyone may have, it is not possible to have a degree higher than a Ph. D. Please excuse me for appearing conceited, smug, and/or arrogant, but unless one has done what it takes to earn one’s Ph. D., one cannot claim to be more educated than I am. Since entering the world of trial consulting, I have been astonished at the overall absence of credentials of some consultants. As David and I have mentioned in previous posts, we have competitors who have the following backgrounds: (1) a G. E. D., but is a “good judge of character”; (2) a stockbroker who used to work in the garment district in New York City; (3) a paralegal; (4) attorneys who think it is fun to conduct mock trials (because they failed miserably as attorneys); (5) and, my all time favorite, an astrologer, who assured me she could distinguish among jurors by knowing their zodiac sign. None of these shamans are my colleagues; it is possible to be my colleague only if one has a Ph. D. in social psychology. Needless to say, I have never, ever, nor will I ever, join so called professional societies that allow shamans among their membership. My Siamese cat is a pretty good judge of character, but would an attorney risk his/her case by letting my cat, who is, in my opinion, just as qualified as these so-called “trial consultants,” conduct research on a multimillion dollar case? If the answer is, as I expect, a resounding “No!”, then I suggest attorneys hire the most qualified, best educated, consultant to help them maximize their chances of success.