Focus groups are a great resource attorneys can use when preparing for trial. They function much like a brainstorming session where the group learns about the case and the attorney’s approach, then offers feedback. Focus group sessions are more informal than a mock trial, and take much less time to prepare for and conduct. During the focus group, the “jurors” will hear case summaries, review critical pieces of evidence, and respond to individual questions and during group discussions.
Advantages of a Focus Group in Trial Preparation
A focus group can be conducted at any stage of the litigation process, however the greatest benefits of such a group are when they are conducted early on, typically before the first deposition is taken. There are many advantages to using a focus group, including:
- Unearthing problems in the case so the attorney has time to address them
- Understanding the significance of jurors’ answers
- Help maintain objectivity
- Learning where jurors’ reactions come from so attorney and client are on the same page
- Helping with jury selection
- Showing which arguments work best and least
- Giving an attorney the ability to maximize goals during the Discovery process
- Helping the attorney forge realistic goals and strategies at each stage of the litigation process
In short, a pre-trial focus group is a quick and economical way for an attorney to gain critical knowledge before jury selection and the trial begin.
Can Focus Groups Enhance Settlement Negotiations?
Because pre-trial focus groups can reliably predict the positions of a typical jury, they can also reveal a potentially reasonable verdict. In some cases, both parties hold a joint focus group where each side presents the case and several panels deliberate. This process will enable both sides to not only share the costs of a focus group, but also spares both sides the time and expense of taking the case to trial if a clear verdict is reached. For example, if the defendant’s team goes through the process and sees that their case has many holes and issues, the defendant may be more inclined to settle rather than going to trial.
If you have been injured and think you may have grounds for a personal injury suit, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney will evaluate your case and, if it is viable, offer sound legal advice about the steps you should take to pursue compensation.