Just in Time Jury Consulting

A series of recent experiences pertaining to a case on which we were ramping up made me consider the timeline of jury consulting. In the world of business, and especially manufacturing, there is a concept of just in time production. With just in time production, the raw materials for a “thing” arrive at the production facility only when they are needed. Things, often generically called “widgets,” are then assembled with the ingredients which have arrived on time. In the last several years, throughout the economic changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much discussion about supply chain disruptions. This means the parts, computer chips, for example, did not arrive in time for the widget to be assembled. This has created havoc in many industries, including industries where many of us do not ever consider what ingredients go into a product. For example, most of us have no concept of the number of computer chips required to build a car. Yet, we know when car lots are empty because of these supply chain disruptions. I’ve thought Magnus was not impacted by just in time and supply chain issues. But, as recent events reminded me, we are. We do have critical inputs. We have to have participants for our mock juries. Our recruiter finds people to participate, and it is a challenging job. But, “mock jurors” are an input. Research facility availability is another; we spend considerable time finding a venue specific facility and spec’ing out the plans and contracts. But, the key input component is, for us, money. Without money, we cannot book a facility and we cannot recruit the participants. The recent event that triggered this post was a delay in being paid our initial retainer. This is, for us, often a challenge. But, this time it was more challenging than ever as we approached a drop dead date to begin the jury recruit. Recruiting takes time and cannot start until we have money to pay for it. As our clients debated about who was to pay us, the clock was running, and running out. I don’t want to seem like a mercenary, but money makes things tick in our world. “Show me the money” is what is required to get things going. In this instance, we were not seeing the money. It is that thought that made me realize we provide services on a just in time basis – based on the input of money. This one came down to the finish line – and many tasks were rushed as a result. The good news is, we got there!

As far as I am concerned, one of the best changes that we have seen over the 30 years of owning and operating Magnus is the way in which we get paid.  In the past, Magnus was paid by check, which was either mailed through the postal service or sent via overnight delivery.  Much to David’s and my chagrin, most of our clients preferred to send their checks through the mail, often, with less than stellar results.  These days, many of our clients do not send a check; rather, they wire or otherwise transfer money from their bank account to Magnus’ bank account.  There is no paper check and best of all, the money goes straight to our bank account expeditiously.  In the recent situation in which precious time was wasted by our clients’ endless debate over who was going to pay our retainer, thereby authorizing us to proceed with our work, the only way we were able to keep the research date selected by the clients was via a wire transfer.  The old school way of waiting for a check to be delivered by the U.S.P.S. would have resulted in our jury recruiter’s inability to recruit enough people for our project, with the end result of having to find a later date to work. The other old school way of sending a check via overnight delivery service would have had a similar impact in our inability to get started on the jury recruit because tomorrow would have been a day too late.  David’s references to “just in time” production use the modern meaning of this phrase, but in this case, we got our retainer wired to the bank “just in time” to do our work.  Whew!

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