Much of what we do as trial consultants remains constant over time. Social science research is well established in terms of methodologies such that the changes are in the margins. Technological changes are not a major factor in our world, yet, we constantly look at processes and technologies to improve our work. Among those have been things like moving from analog (VHS tapes) to digital (DVDs and now .mp4 video files shared by computer). We’ve been at this long enough to remember lugging giant laptops (when they became available) to research projects. Laptops, then iPads, have largely replaced the anchor weight computers of old and have found new uses. We, as many of our competitors in the world of trial consulting have, moved to using iPads/tablets for the mock jurors to complete written surveys. We have found benefits of improved accuracy and speed in using the iPads. Mock jurors are adept enough at using technology to make this a positive change. We’ve also had to adapt with methodologies such as online jury research. (While we prefer live research, online research provides an option in certain circumstances.) The point of all of this is that we, as trial consultants, must consider ways to improve our work in technological and human terms. We’ve adopted procedures over time that, for example, make our team leaner and more efficient. The need to constantly examine work flow and technology is present in any business endeavor. Even in those, like ours, that are not driven by technological change.
David and I are rarely on the cutting edge when it comes to adopting new technology and new ways of doing things, however, we are usually light years ahead of most people we know. Recently, we have had the pleasure of hosting 2 of my friends/colleagues in our home for an extended period. Both of them worked in the trial consulting industry, one on a part time basis for a relatively short time, and the other, as a career for several decades. Neither of them is currently employed as a trial consultant. One of them is retired and the other is employed in a different field. When I mentioned to them that Magnus’ research participants complete our extensive surveys on iPads/tablets, the trial consultant whose career (until the pandemic) was working in our industry full time was incredulous, with many insightful questions and comments about Magnus’ innovative use of technology. The other person, whose experience is in the increasingly distant past, became rather wistful for the time spend photocopying, distributing, and tabulating paper surveys. David and I later commented that, although their perspectives were vastly different, but they both seemed to understand the importance of adopting current approaches to litigation research. Being old school and retro can be perceived as “groovy” or “cool” in some situations, however, when it comes to streamlining work flow, impressing clients, and overall, being perceived as a leader in our field of trial consulting, keeping up with the latest technology is a requirement for survival.