Verdict - Spring 2013 - (Page 14)

feature Understanding and Evaluating Trial Consultants this case?” To consider the above, I’ve seen three main categories of trial consultants: 1. The Warhorse Trial Lawyer BY MICHAEL L. NEFF W hen I was approached to write about my experiences with trial consultants, my inclination was to think back to when I first considered using one several years ago. I had no idea what working with one would be like, and it seemed very mysterious. Like many attorneys who have never used a trial consultant, I had many questions. What exactly was a trial consultant? What exactly were they going to do for me? What value would I get out of working with one? And how do I assess which one to hire? These are important questions, and several years ago I took the leap of faith and worked with one. After having used them now on multiple occasions, I can share some insights into many of those questions. This type of trial consultant has tried many cases as a lawyer over their career and now consults on other cases. Their style and case focus is shaped by their experiences in litigation. The good news is that they will be in a position to discuss legal strategy (motions, etc.) and give valuable insight on how they would present your case or attack your case if they were on the other side. The “bad news” is that their view of the case is likely lawyer-driven and shaped by their experiences. Rhetorical styles differ, and attorneys have different gifts and abilities in the courtroom. What works for one lawyer may be a colossal failure for another - particularly if the lawyer is attempting to adopt a method and style that is not his own. Also, remember that venues differ. Tip O’Neill once quipped, “all politics is local.” The same thing goes for trying cases. What may work in one venue may not work at all in another, so to the extent that your “warhorse trial consultant” has had successes in other counties or states, you may want to investigate whether those experiences could easily translate to your particular venue. 2. The Generalist What is a trial consultant, and what do they do? The answers to these questions can be very broad, since many different people with various backgrounds offer their services as trial consultants. Some of the questions that a lawyer may consider are, “What type of trial consultant do I want?” and “How would that person benefit me in 14 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association This type of trial consultant may or may not be a lawyer. They may have gravitated toward trial consulting after having an interest in the process but no desire to be a trial lawyer. I often think of a trial consultants as a director of a play. You don’t see them on the stage, but they are tremendously influential in the process by working with the actors and giving feedback on the performance. As explained earlier, some actors (i.e., warhorse trial lawyers) make great directors. However, some great actors are horrible at directing others. Similarly, just because a trial consultant may not be an experienced trial lawyer doesn’t mean that they can’t add tremendous value to your case. In fact, the opposite may be true. Lawyers frequently forget that the people they ultimately face in the jury box likely have no education (and sometimes no interest) in the law. Law school is wonderful for training people to think analytically and communicate “like a lawyer.” However, law school, at least for me, included almost no preparation for trying a case well to a jury. A generalist trial consultant will likely have a view of the case (and the world) that is more from the jury’s perspective. This can be a valuable perspective, as sometimes during the case, a lawyer may not see the forest for the trees. A good trial consultant, regardless of background and experience, will always consider how facts and issues are likely to influence a juror. 3. The Specialist I’m constantly amazed at the many different backgrounds some trial consultants have. I’ve spoken with many that had backgrounds in psychology/psychiatry, theater, TV and film work, nursing, linguistics - even “story telling.” In talking with a specialist, you want to have some conversations about how the trial consultant’s background shapes the trial presentation. You also want to make sure that your own skills and abilities mesh with the consultant’s approach. To the extent that you will be attempting to invoke a different approach, make sure you talk with the trial consultant about

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Spring 2013

President's Message
How I Obtained Justice For My Client
Understanding and Evaluating Trial Consultants
Evernote - The Litigator's Friend?
Georgia's New Evidence Code
A Thoughtful Use of "Cy Pres" Awards in Class Action Lawsuits
Trying Cases Involving Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS)
Protecting the Civiln Justice System Under the Gold Dome
Case Updates: What's New?
Workers' Comp: Recent Developments
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Champion Members
Notes: What's New with GTLA Members
Index to Advertisers/

Verdict - Spring 2013