I’ve noticed a phenomenon when working with clients who have never utilized a trial consultant. The only thing I can think of as a way to describe this is “Now I get it…” Attorneys/clients do not always hire us because they want to. There are times they are “encouraged to,” told to, or forced to hire a trial consultant by their client. In one memorable situation, the person experiencing the revelation was the co-counsel and the lead counsel forced the hiring decision on him. The “it” in this situation is why they hired the trial consultant in the first place. Some of our clients came to us under the false illusion that they had the case figured out 100%. They were extremely confident, but they turned out to be wrong. There were details they overlooked, they made assumptions, and they misread people’s reactions to cases. When they conducted the mock jury research, they were shocked about the outcome, but they started to understand that things which were exceedingly clear to them, were not clear to “real people.” That can be humbling, even disorienting, to some. As someone with a business school education, it has always surprised me that some attorneys (and their clients, especially defense clients) approach cases with this false sense of confidence. In the business world, marketing research is routinely part of almost every major product or service introduction, revision, advertising and sales decision. In litigation, the lawyer has a product (a lawsuit) to sell, and they have a target market (a jury). And, while they can have some input into who is on that jury, they only get one shot at making the sale (not counting appeals). When the challenge is that dramatic, it has surprised me that some attorneys have been willing to go it on their gut (or experience, etc.) rather than being sure. So, when these attorneys hire us, and finally “get it,” they are almost always appreciative and happy that they didn’t miss whatever they missed where it would have counted – the courtroom. Their enthusiasm and appreciation at that point is something I wish I could put in a bottle to sell to others to help other attorneys “get it” from the outset of every engagement.
Some people find it difficult to understand things unless they have directly experienced them. One might say these people lack imagination or perhaps, foresight, however, when it comes to understanding the services provided by trial consultants, it is often hard for the average attorney to comprehend how we do what we do. Some of Magnus’ clients have laughingly accused me of making my astute predictions about the outcome of their case by asking an “8 Ball.” (I do have an “8 Ball” sitting on my desk, but it’s a silly toy that is present for my amusement, and not to consult about my clients’ important cases.) Most attorneys who retain Magnus are high performers in the legal arena, however, they are attorneys with law degrees, not psychologists with Ph.D.s. As such, it would be unfair to expect them to understand the nature of our work as well as we do. If they did, they probably would have no reason to hire us! The common denominator in distinguishing savvy clients from their no so savvy colleagues is whether they believe they “know it all.” Those who think they know it all are often closed minded and unwilling to concede that they might be wrong about their assessment of their case. In contrast, attorneys who understand they cannot possibly know everything there is to know are willing to learn from their experiences in working with Magnus. It is a real eye opener to a big shot attorney to hear the mock jurors say “The only positive thing I can say about the plaintiff’s case and the plaintiff’s lawyer is that he is wearing a nice tie.” True story! And, talk about a wake up call for this client! It is rewarding for me to see the know it all client come around to a new way of thinking, based on the outcome of Magnus’ research. I can almost see the moment the “light bulb” is illuminated! A skeptic has become a believer in what we do! They finally get it!