Recently, a small Cuban cafe opened near our office. While full service Cuban restaurants have never been far away, this one is really close, so I wanted to check it out (even though it is housed in a corner of a gas station). What I found was a guy with a plan. The owner proudly told me he wanted to do things the way his grandmother (or abuela) taught him. His recipes were in his head, not on paper, but the fundamental rule he follows is to use only the best ingredients. He selects Spanish ham, uses excellent pulled pork, real Swiss made cheese, good Kosher pickles and makes daily trips to Miami to pick up fresh loaves of Cuban bread. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. As I waited for him to assemble my sandwich, I reflected on how this is the opposite of “garbage in, garbage out.” How, even with the simplicity of a Cuban sandwich, taking care to do it right makes a huge difference. A difference I could, literally, taste. Metaphorically, almost anything benefits from such care and thought. Certainly, trial consulting work does. Using good parts to build something should make the thing better. Using good inputs and procedures makes things better. Using less expensive inputs, whether food or materials, may result in dissatisfied customers. It may result in catastrophic failures. Doing the best one can with the best ingredients results in the best possible outcomes. In our world, this means proper research design, conducted by qualified consultants, using properly recruited mock jurors and using a facility that fits the research – as opposed to conducting research that fits the facility – are all items that lead to the best possible takeaways from the research process. While our work does not yield yummy results like Eric’s Cuban sandwiches, I can relate to his way of approaching his craft!
I agree with David; just as with many things in life, there are good Cuban sandwiches, great Cuban sandwiches, and then there are truly divine Cuban sandwiches. The differences among them are due to: (1) the quality of the ingredients; and (2) the training, expertise, and care of the person making the sandwich. One can certainly buy a Cuban sandwich at a convenience store or a grocery store, however, in my opinion, there is no comparison between a mass produced Cuban sandwich and one carefully constructed by someone who is a devotée of the art of sandwich making. In a manner similar to prior posts about satisfactory versus excellent key lime pies and the difference between a luthier and a guitar tech, David’s Cuban sandwich post is a metaphor for how we, at Magnus, perform our work. Unlike some of our competitors, who use a “cookie cutter” approach to their clients’ cases, Magnus provides case specific, custom designed jury/trial research for every single client. Even when attorneys choose to hire another consulting firm (usually, out of cost considerations due to the fact our custom approach is never the cheapest option), they routinely inform us of how impressed they were with our thoughtful attention to the details of their case. David and I sometimes lament that there are times when we would like to be busier with work, however, we are unwilling to sacrifice the quality of our work in order to discount our prices, cut corners in research design, or any one of a number of other things in order to be the lowest bidder for a project. Given a choice of working for a select group of clients who appreciate the high quality of our work and conducting high volume, discounted work, I will select excellence for our clients every time.