At the time of this writing, there is a popular television show that is loosely based on the life of a well known celebrity who used to work as a jury/trial consultant. The title of the show is “Bull,” and based on what I have seen, the show contains more “bull” than truth. However, because most TV shows are made for entertainment, not education, the liberties taken by the show’s writers are much the same as those taken on shows that depict other professions. For example, who believes “General Hospital” was an accurate depiction of what it is like to work in a hospital? Or, in a reference to a more contemporary show, who believes “Game of Thrones” is an accurate portrayal of history? This being said, the average person knows nothing about what I do for a living, however, the average person is part of the target audience for prime time television viewing, including shows such as “Bull.” Because this is a fact of life, many people, upon hearing what I do for a living, ask me if my job is identical to the jury consultant’s job on the TV show. Having been asked this question far too many times, I patiently explain that my job is like “Bull’s,” but without the “bull.” That is, there are aspects of my job which are similar to the job of my television counterpart, for example, I help people who need my help, but the similarities end there. I don’t know of anyone who works as a legitimate jury/trial consultant who conducts himself/herself in ways similar to the TV personality. All of the glitz and glamour in the job are made for TV, but, at least in my experience, what happens in the actual life and career of a jury consultant is mostly behind the scenes and not very exciting. Just as people who find out I am a doctor sometimes ask why I can’t write them a prescription, if someone truly believes my job includes a lot of “bull,” then I let them believe what they choose to believe. And, that’s no bull!
“Bull” has been fun for Melissa and me in the sense that it provides awareness of the existence of jury consultants. It’s not like we’ve been hiding though. There was at least one episode of “L.A. Law” portraying a trial consultant in a not too favorable manner. And, then there was OJ. Much of the world learned about trial consultants thanks to him and his trial. But the current TV show, which involves a popular, though perhaps controversial, star has brought new attention to our profession. We watched the first few episodes, enough to know “Bull” was bull, and we saw enough to be able to talk about it. And, though we rarely give the show a second thought, I am frequently asked “like Bull?” when I tell someone what we do. Those who are asking are never lawyers, but they may work in the larger world of law and claims, for example, claims adjusters. So, to the degree what we do is made more known to the world, that is good. I was thinking recently about how I had to attempt to explain what a trial or jury consultant was to prospective clients – attorneys – nearly 30 years ago when I got into the field. It used to be challenging to explain this – many attorneys then, and some still, didn’t understand that there are consultants to help them do what they were trained to do. (The fact that they didn’t understand this is another story.) So, the explanation was then more difficult. But, as a result of years of education on the topic, including trial consultants as speakers at lawyers’ conferences (Melissa has done well over 200 presentations), they now generally get it – some better than others. Then “Bull” came along and, while it opened some minds, it, as TV shows do, glamorizes and trivializes what a real practitioner does. For more on that, check our website, or, better yet, call me.
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