An oddity of my job as a jury/trial consultant is not being able to share the details of my work with family, friends, or anyone, ever. All of the cases in which Magnus consults are high stakes matters, regardless of whether they are civil or criminal trials. Everyone who is employed by Magnus, including David and me, are required by our clients to maintain strict confidentiality regarding their cases. Some of our clients, in fact, require everyone at Magnus who works on their case to sign confidentiality and non disclosure agreements as a prerequisite to our retention. Our work is performed in an almost clandestine manner, lest opposing counsel, the media, or the general public discover our involvement in the case. Many of the lawsuits in which we are involved are high publicity matters, such that information leaks must be prevented at all costs. Many of my family members and friends are intrigued by my work and they ask me what cases I have been involved with; if I have worked on this or that high publicity case; if I have met so and so big name attorney; etc. I cannot answer their inquiries and often, I try to change the subject of our conversation as quickly as I can. When I travel to work on cases in cities where I know people, I have to be careful not to mention the attorneys for whom I am working, in case my friends or relatives happen to know them. I avoid taking photos that reveal my location when I am traveling for work and I instruct my employees to avoid taking photos and posting their whereabouts on social media. I learned, early in my career, the damage that can be done by talking too much, to the wrong people, about what we are doing in a particular place. I was working with a colleague on a case in Alaska. We were required by our client to stay there for several weeks, including weekends. My colleague had a friend who lived in the area and they went out for dinner one night when my colleague let her guard down and told an acquaintance of her friend why she was in town. This acquaintance happened to be Juror #1 on the case for which we were to select a jury the following day. Needless to say, when my colleague admitted her poor judgment to our client, the client was furious. She was banned from the courtroom and from future work with the client, leaving me to select the jury and finish our work. Loose lips can, and do, sink jury consultants’ ships!
In the past two weeks, news about several cases on which we have worked have appeared prominently in the news. The cases, and the results of their trials, were newsworthy. This is, no doubt, common for trial consultants and it is, admittedly, exciting to be involved in high profile or noteworthy cases. Yet, from the first day of an employee’s tenure with us, we drill them on confidentiality. We train them to do, as Melissa wrote, be very careful in every encounter with family, friends, and while in public. Outside of the office, in public settings, for example, we never discuss cases or clients by name. We might say “the Miami case in 2 weeks” but that’s about it. Confidentiality is a way of life for us. The few cases or clients we talk about are those on which we have received permission from our client to do so. In a few instances, our clients have willingly allowed us to congratulate them publically – a win for all. And, we’ve had cases which have become teaching tools when the lessons learned are “packaged” by Melissa and our client to use to train others who could benefit from the lessons. We are careful, more so than some of our competitors, in publicizing client identities – even if for public entities. For that reason, we’ve never published a list of clients, such as corporations, including insurance companies for whom we have worked. I keep a list and the list is full of very recognizable names and logos, but that is an internal list only! The only names we publicize are those on our reference list – and those names are there by permission. This level of near paranoid confidentiality is detrimental to marketing efforts, but we believe it is critical to our credibility with existing and future clients.
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