What does Trial Consulting have to do with Family law/Divorce/Child Custody matters? A whole heck of a lot! In the consulting field, we prepare expert witnesses and clients for testimony often. It’s a known fact that the way your client presents at depositions or trial can easily make or break the case. Why would this be ANY different in family law disputes where the stakes are, arguably, higher than in other civil cases? What if I could perform short-term miracles on clients in a divorce? What if your client could come across as genuine and likable without the anger and feeling of betrayal? What if I could shift their thinking to realize that the way they are viewing their circumstances are not in line with a mentality needed to “win” their case (money, rights to the kids)? And yes, I do this work in general civil cases as well and it is highly effective. Please contact me to discuss this further.
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We have had an increasing demand for packaged services. Attorneys have told us that a package deal would be useful to sell to the client as well as to keep their costs in check. To meet this demand, we have put together a few packages. We will continue to offer services a la carte as well. If there is a specific package that you do not see here that would be of help, contact us and we can put one together to meet your individual needs.
COMPREHENSIVE VOIR DIRE PACKAGE: $1900
Designed to get you and your case fully prepared for voir dire as well as providing any additional assistance you feel you may need.
- Time to review case information and discuss pertinent voir dire topics
- Creation of a set of case-specific voir dire questions
- Over the phone practice of phrasing for difficult questions
- Attendance at jury selection to assist in picking the jury up until lunch break (for longer jury selections, a discounted hourly rate will apply)
- Discounted rate on voir dire focus groups to test your presence during voir dire and refine body language, tone, and ability to interact with jurors
CLIENT WITNESS PREPARATION: $750
The way your client presents at trial will make or break the case. Witness preparation by a consultant is geared toward changing body language and working with emotional issues the client is dealing with. During testimony, these issues can be very damaging to the case.
- Time to review case information to become familiar with the case and client-specific issues
- Up to 3 hours of in-person client preparation time
- A concise list of talking points for the client to take home and review
- Discounted videography services if desired to record the client and show playback of their body language during testimony
COMBINATION OPENING STATEMENT & CLOSING ARGUMENT EDITS: $900
An opening statement is your first and only chance to create the story lens through which jurors will view the rest of the case. If you mess up the opening, there is no chance to redeem yourself as every piece of new information is already being filtered through the lens of the opening statement story. There are effective and ineffective ways to do an opening and the results from them differ drastically. Closing argument is your last chance to arm jurors favorable to you to fight effectively against the jurors who are against you. By honing in these two elements of trial, you will have a much greater chance at winning the case.
- Unlimited edits to refine your opening statement and fit it within time constraints
- Unlimited edits to closing argument
- Last-minute access to me by phone/text/email if tweaks need to be made to the closing as trial comes to an end
COMPREHENSIVE VOIR DIRE PACKAGE + OPENING STATEMENT EDITS: $2700
The best way to get trial off to an effective start is to have full service help on opening statement and voir dire. These are your first two opportunities to make an impression on the jury and first impressions are vitally important in how jurors view the entire rest of the case.
- Comprehensive voir dire package as mentioned above, plus;
- Unlimited edits to refine opening statement and fit it within time constraints
JUROR RECONNAISSANCE: $75 per juror
Designed to give you insight into who the prospective jurors are and what their ideologies may be before they even step into the jury box for questioning. We can run social media and internet searches on jurors if you have their names ahead of time and can even run some quick searches if you only receive names the morning of trial. These searches are the only way to determine if a juror may be hiding something from you or to gleam information about a juror that would not be revealed during questioning.
- Social media and internet searches on every juror listed on the roster (or, if we are conducting the searches real-time as you are in court, we will search those most likely to be called first and can text or email you any pertinent information)
FOCUS GROUPS: Please call for individual packages. Prices range from $6,000-$25,000
Focus groups are by far the best way to get input on your case and learn how to revamp your arguments and overcome jurors’ objections. There are many elements that need to be addressed to achieve an effective focus group. We are happy to put together a package for you to meet your individual needs.
Please contact Jessica Brylo at: 303-653-2233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever had a trial where you found out after the verdict that one juror had something in their background that biased them against you and may have lost you the case? Most likely, it’s happened many more times than you realize as it’s rare to talk to jurors in depth after a trial or to find out things jurors may be hiding. Doing some deep digging on jurors BEFORE trial is a necessity in today’s litigation world where jurors sometimes have agendas and lie in court. In fact, it almost constitutes malpractice NOT to do some background searching on jurors if you have their names in advance. While many attorneys will try to Facebook search jurors pre-trial, Facebook is simply not enough. There are numerous social media pages that need to be searched and cross-referenced. Photos need to be searched for facial recognition to find other sites where the potential juror may have posted. Background searches can reveal past criminal activity, sometimes in an area related to the trial itself. These are things you should not overlook as it can easily cost you the trial and you would never know. At Hoffman Brylo Consulting, we now offer juror reconnaissance as a service. And for existing customers doing other work with us, we discount the work. Contact us to find out more: email@example.com
In an effort to allow access to my consulting help for cases where there would otherwise not be the budget, I am rolling out “Concierge Consulting” as a service. Similar to concierge medicine, you would pay me a set amount per month to have unlimited access to me and the services you personally find most valuable, along with lower hourly rates on additional services you may need on a less frequent basis. The amounts could be billed toward clients when there are specific cases that time is being devoted to, allowing you to recoup most, if not all, of the monthly fees. Fees range from a few hundred dollars a month to a few thousand dollars a month depending on what services you in particular want included. I will customize a plan that works for both of us and which will allow us to get help to every single one of your cases. After we work together, my clients almost always tell me that they didn’t know what they didn’t know, they wish we had started working together sooner, and they wish they could use me on more cases. I have thought long and hard about how I can direct my services to more cases and this will accomplish just that. If this seems to be of any interest to you, please reach out so we can talk further.
I came across this article on Establishing Credibility in Plaintiff’s Opening and, with no disrespect meant toward the author, I was shocked at the amount of misinformation. She starts by saying that the goal of opening is to establish credibility with the jury. That is a statement with which I certainly agree. However, the author’s method of doing so, in my opinion, is extremely ineffective.
The suggested opening begins:
“May it please the court, counsel, and may it please you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury:
As you know, if you haven’t forgotten since last Friday morning, and to repeat, my name is Judith—Judy they usually call me—Cartwright, and I represent, together with Mr. Michael Mills, Norman Ames, the plaintiff in this case….”
This is useless information to jurors at this point. They’ve already been introduced to you and they care about why they are there (or at the very least it’s your job to make them care about why they are there) and not about who you are. You lose their interest in starting this way and you’ve said nothing useful.
Next, the author suggests stating that “with reference to everything that I tell you, that we will have substantial evidence for each issue or each point that I mention to you.” Now you have changed your own burden from preponderance (slightly more than 50/50) to beyond a reasonable doubt. Jurors already are programmed to evaluate evidence based on a much higher standard than you’re legally bound to. Your job is to constantly remind them that your legal burden is only to prove “more likely than not.” There is a way to do this while still ensuring jurors that you plan to make a stronger case than slightly more likely right than wrong. This is an art. I rarely see it done correctly and the author’s suggestion is a step in the opposite direction.
Finally, she suggests a full paragraph explaining who else will be trying the case and how much experience they have in the case. Jurors could not care less. This does nothing to advance your case. This author’s goal is admirable and, I believe, correct: Establish credibility with the jury as soon as possible. However, the effective ways of doing so are opposite of what this article suggests.
If you need help editing your opening statement, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to an unusual amount of movement in trial dates and settlements, I have an opportunity to offer some last minute help at a discounted hourly rate. If you have anything you would like worked on in the next couple of months, please contact me ASAP as I will offer up these openings on a first-come-first-serve basis. I can help with:
- Case analysis (spotting and resolving issues in the case)
- Editing opening statement
- Jury selection
- Crafting voir dire questions
- Voir dire practice
- Focus Groups/Mock Trials
- Witness prep
- Juror interviews
Contact me for more details or with questions at:
Phone (303) 653-2233
How well do you think you know your cases? I don’t mean the deadlines for discovery or the legal rulings by the judge. I mean, how well do you know the value of your case to a jury? You spend day in, day out with the case so you would think you have a pretty good handle on it. But sometimes that makes it harder. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees. Sometimes, just sometimes, you may be wrong – even really wrong – about your case.
Let me give you a couple of examples. I will have to be vague to protect confidential information. I had an attorney come to me with a case regarding injury to a renter on another’s homeowner’s property. The attorney wanted to run a focus group. Great. He sent me documents to review. The rental property had a hot tub for use by renters. There were clips to secure the hot tub cover but the clips were broken. A “high wind strap cable” was provided to secure the cover. Also provided were instructions to lock the cover down to prevent trespass, although no explanation as to any danger of winds. The renters had previously used the property and used the cable. This time, however, the renters claim the cable was missing. A gust of wind hits, the cover snaps up and hits the renter in the head. As I reviewed the case, I could immediately see a very good likelihood that this would be a problematic case in ways that could not be fixed. I knew the homeowner had done enough to satisfy jurors. I spoke with the attorney. “Sir, to be clear, are you claiming that the negligence in this case is failure to fix the broken clips and failure to warn of the danger of the wind?” “Yes,” he replied. “Are you saying this isn’t a good case?!” He couldn’t believe it. I decided to let the jurors tell him as jurors are known to shock even me at times (see the next example). But lo and behold, I was right. There was nothing I could say to win the jurors over. Nothing. The attorney was shocked. Now maybe you’re not shocked. Maybe it seems obvious to you too. So is this attorney new? Uninsightful? Not good at trying cases and seeing the holes? No. In fact, he’s a seasoned, exceptional attorney. And his greatest power is also his greatest weakness. It may be your greatest weakness too. I’ll explain more in a moment. Now for another example:
I was working on a medical malpractice case. A woman came into a hospital for a heart surgery. The surgery went fine except there is a 2 hour window without hospital notes for what exactly happened. The woman had a lot of blood loss and died a week later in the hospital. She had some bad pre-existing conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure. We tried the case to a mock jury. The jurors focused on her pre-existing conditions, obviously, but what surprised everyone was the fact that one juror in each focus group panel (we ran two separate panels) decided that the woman had a death wish and was ready to die because she brought her living will into the hospital. “She wouldn’t have brought that if she hadn’t already given up on life,” they said. And even more shocking was that the argument gained traction with other jurors. They decided that she was in such bad health to begin with that she had already given up so it was her fault she didn’t make it because she didn’t have enough will to live. Would you have known that was an issue in this case? Thankfully the attorneys were able to provide an easy remedy at trial by explaining that the hospital asks patients to bring in copies of living wills whenever they undergo surgery and showing the plaintiff’s zest for life. Problem solved. But these attorneys who knew the ins and outs of this complicated medical case really DIDN’T know their case – not the way jurors saw it.
I can almost guarantee that you don’t know your case either. And that doesn’t make you a bad attorney, it simply makes you human. One of the hallmarks of a great attorney is the ability to see the good in even troublesome clients and to be so optimistic and passionate about the case and the client that jurors believe your sincerity. But along with that ability to become so deeply devoted to your cases comes, by definition, an inability to see the forest through the trees. What may have seemed obvious to you in the first example may not be so obvious if it’s your case. How do you know what “obvious” things you’re missing in your current cases? You don’t know what you don’t know. What differentiates a great attorney from a stellar one is the ability to become encompassed in the case and get lost in it, along with the ability to ask for outside help to find and fix the holes. There’s simply no way for you to play both roles. That’s why consultants and mock juries exist. Because you can’t be both the advocate and see clearly.