What is a Jury Consultant?:
In high-profile and high-stakes jury trials, lawyers rely on jury consultants to gain a winning edge. Jury consultants are human behavior experts who help attorneys research and select jurors and provide insight into juror behavior. Jury consultants are used in both criminal trials and complex civil litigation.
Jury consultants possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (a master’s degree or Ph.D. is desirable) in behavioral science, sociology, political science, criminology, psychology or other social science. A joint degree in the social sciences and the law is helpful but not mandatory. Jury consultants are hired for their intuition and knowledge of human behavior, not their legal expertise.
Job Duties - Pretrial:
Jury consultants are helpful even before trial commences. Jury consultants research juror backgrounds, create juror profiles, assist with jury selection, develop voir dire questions and conduct focus groups and mock jury trials. Jury consultants also conduct pretrial research, gather and analyze demographic data, perform statistical analysis and draft analytic reports.
Job Duties - Trial:
One of the most important roles of jury consultants is to develop trial strategies to help shape juror perceptions and lead to a favorable outcome. At trial, jury consultants provide insight into juror body language and behavior, coach witnesses and help lawyers identify arguments and develop strategies. Some jury consultants create courtroom graphics and multi-media presentations to help weave a compelling and persuasive story for the jury.
Jury Consultant Skills:
Jury consultants must have a keen insight into human behavior, motivation and decision-making. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills as well as exceptional writing, speaking and presentation skills are essential. Since research is integral to the job, exceptional research and data analysis skills, proficiency with statistical software and knowledge of social science research methodology are important. July consultants must understand legal procedure and terminology. Client development skills are also helpful in acquiring a strong and lucrative client base.
Jury Consultant Salaries:
Jury consultants are not inexpensive. According to the National Law Journal, a typical mock jury trial costs $60,000 while a sophisticated electronic presentation might cost $125,000. These hefty fees translate into generous incomes for jury consultants. While a jury research assistant’s salary starts at around $40,000, jury consultant salaries often top $100,000 and experienced consultants with Ph.D.’s may earn over $500,000 yearly.
Most jury consultants are employed by consulting firms ranging in size from solo consultants and small boutique firms to large, international companies. Some large law firms employ in-house jury consultants. The nature of the work is fast-paced and demanding and may require extensive travel and challenging schedules to meet client deadlines.
Jury consultants are routinely hired for high stakes, big-money cases and have grown in popularity due to highly publicized trials including the O.J. Simpson trial, Scott Peterson’s capital murder trial and Martha Stewart’s trial.