If you are not focus grouping your cases set for jury trial, you are cheating yourself and, more importantly, your client. I have always agreed with those who say you don’t want the actual jury to be your first focus group.
Focus groups are a must for our firm. We do them monthly, at least. However, when I check around with other attorneys who have cases coming up for trial, almost none are conducting focus groups. I am convinced this is a huge mistake and should be standard practice. Here are the 3 Top Excuses I hear why attorneys are not conducting focus groups.
- Focus Groups are too expensive. Wrong. We can focus group two cases in under 4 hours, unless it is a complex case or a medical malpractice case. If you have a car wreck case, for example, we can often do 2 of those in a single session and if you chose to allow us to help you conduct the focus group, we would only charge you 50% of the total cost. It usually costs us a total of $1,500 per focus group, so you would invest $750 as your pro-rata portion. And we take care of everything else.
- I think I know how the jury is going to react to our proof. Well, you may be right. More probably, you are letting your ego dictate crucial factual responses by jurors. Every person in my office has sat in the back of the room listening to focus group participants talk about an issue, and has had their jaws wide open. The participants have assumed things we never could have anticipated. They have filled in the story gaps in their mind with absolutely wrong information. You think your weakness in your slip and fall case is a true case killer? The focus group may share with you unanimously that your fears are overstated, or totally unfounded. I had a recent slip and fall case where the defense thought they had a sure fire defense verdict. Two consecutive focus groups told us they were dead wrong. We pushed on up to trial, and decided to share the focus group info with them. They caved for $100K more than they said they would ever pay. The bottom line is … YOU DON’T KNOW. Heck, I do this all the time and I really think I know, but I am not arrogant enough to let my ego get in the way. I’ve been wrong too many times.
- But I have an expert for that. Read #2 above. The jury may hate your expert and totally disregard her testimony. If you have video, we can use it and see what the focus group thinks. You never know, until you try the proof out. Then you do.
Why should you?
- Practice, practice, practice. Focus groups demand that you get your case ready for trial early. I have a trial in 2 months and I have the voir dire and opening 98% done. I have done my PowerPoint slides and tested them. I removed several slides after the first PowerPoint as the focus group was confused on some issues. So I simplify and streamline, and re-align my proof to make it easier to absorb. The 3 focus groups taught me that. I thought I knew it was better the first time. Boy, was I wrong.
- CONFIDENCE. At this point, I KNOW how a jury in my upcoming trial is most likely to react to my plaintiff, my exhibits, the photos in evidence, the defense IME (whom they said they “hated”). I know that my 7 figure ad damnum is not offensive to the focus group in light of the harms and losses sustained.
If you have any questions or would like to consult with us about working on a focus group together to hone the issues in your case, CALL ME. This is fun. Every attorney who has done this with me has learned invaluable ways to improve the presentation of their case.
“The harder I practice, the luckier I get”