Lawyers don't leave the outcomes of high-profile and high-stakes jury trials to gut instinct and chance. They rely on jury consultants who are human behavior experts that help attorneys research and select jurors and provide insight into juror behavior. Jury consultants are used in both criminal trials and in complex civil litigation.
Jury Consultant Duties & Responsibilities
This job requires candidates to be able to perform a variety of duties, which include both pretrial tasks and duties that take place during a trial. Jury consultants are integral to the legal process even before a trial begins, and they engage in several pretrial duties, such as:
- Research the jurors' backgrounds.
- Create juror profiles.
- Assist with jury selection and voir dire—the questioning of prospective jurors.
- May conduct focus groups and mock trials.
- Conduct pretrial research.
- Gather and analyze demographic data.
- Perform statistical analyses.
- Draft analytic reports.
During a trial, developing trial strategies to help shape juror perceptions is one of the most important responsibilities of a jury consultant because it can lead to a favorable outcome. The consultant will:
- Provide insight into jurors' body language and behavior at trial.
- Coach witnesses for the best possible presentation of facts under questioning.
- Help lawyers identify arguments and develop strategies.
- Create courtroom graphics and multimedia presentations to help the attorney weave a compelling and persuasive story for the jury.
Jury Consultant Salary
A jury consultant's salary varies based on the area of expertise, level of experience, education, certifications, and other factors. A typical mock jury trial can cost upwards of $60,000. A sophisticated electronic presentation might cost $125,000. These hefty fees translate into generous incomes for jury consultants. While salaries begin at around $26,000 as of 2019, they can top $100,000 and experienced consultants with Ph.D.s may earn considerably more, according to ZipRecruiter.com.
According to Law Crossing, an online employment resource for legal jobs, most job opportunities for trial consultants are in major U.S. cities. Salaries can vary significantly depending on location and employer. Law Crossing suggests that an entry-level salary as a trial consultant for a seasoned psychologist with a Ph.D. ranges from $65,000 to $110,000. A trial consultant with a master’s degree starts at $50,000 to $80,000 a year. Jobs for research analysts with no experience pay $38,000 to $43,000.
Education, Training, & Certification
The jury consultant position involves fulfilling education and training requirements as follows:
- Education: Jury consultants typically possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree or Ph.D. in behavioral science, sociology, political science, criminology, psychology, or another social science usually is preferred. An additional degree in law is helpful but not mandatory.
- Experience: Jury consultants are hired for their experience, intuition, and their knowledge of human behavior, such as several years of experience working as a psychologist.
Jury Consultant Skills & Competencies
In addition to education and other requirements, candidates that possess the following skills may be able to perform more successfully on the job:
- Behavioral insight: Keen insight into human behavior, motivation, and decision-making abilities.
- Interpersonal skills: Excellent interpersonal and communications skills, including the ability to expertly read nonverbal cues.
- Writing skills: Exceptional writing, speaking, and presentation skills are essential.
- Research skills: Research is integral to the job, so candidates should have exceptional abilities in data analysis, as well as proficiency with statistical software. Knowledge of social science research methodology is also important.
- Legal knowledge: Although a law degree isn't required, a jury consultant should at least possess a firm understanding of legal procedures and terminology.
- Business development: Client development skills also are helpful in acquiring a strong and lucrative client base.
Where there are high-stakes, big-money cases, there's work for jury consultants. This career is still in its infancy but has grown in popularity due to highly publicized trials like those of Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias. Some trial consultants work in-house for law firms, but as this field develops, more opportunities are opening up for independent trial consultants.
The available jobs for trial consultants may grow at a rate similar to other legal-related professions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t offer specific data for trial consultants, but it does offer information about lawyers and other legal professionals.
Using that data implies that trial consultant jobs will experience low to average growth over the next 10 years. Lawyers should see job growth in the 10% range with other legal professionals expecting slightly better growth at 15% by 2026. This compares to a 7% growth rate for all occupations.
However, since most court cases are settled before they go to trial, trial consultants will increase their employment options by diversifying the services they offer to include mediation and arbitration services. That helps offset the diminishing number of cases that go to trial by offering the service to meet other needs.
Most jury consultants are employed by consulting firms that range in size from small boutique firms to large, international companies, while others work on a freelance basis. Some large law firms employ in-house jury consultants.
The nature of the work is fast-paced and demanding, and it can require extensive travel and challenging schedules to meet client deadlines. The job typically requires a 40-hour workweek.
How to Get the Job
Brush up your resume to highlight relevant skills and previous experience. Read existing job listings to gain a sense for which work experiences are most valuable to those looking to hire a trial consultant.
Network your way to a new job by attending events organized by industry trade organizations such as the American Society of Trial Consultants. This association also offers its members resources such as an online library that contains legal documents helpful to jury consultants.
Look at job search resources such as Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com for available positions. Visit legal job search sites such as Law Crossing, or check the websites of trial consulting firms such as DecisionQuest and Trial Behavior Consulting to search for open job positions.
Comparing Similar Jobs
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Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018