COVID19 has changed the legal landscape. Some things will go back to normal once courts reopen but some will likely remain with us permanently. With courts shut down and juror views in question, resolution of cases has changed. We have found that attorneys are not making the shifts they need to thrive in this new environment.
Before COVID19, most cases settled. Now, even the small percentage of cases that would normally go to trial are settling. This is due to the uncertainty of obtaining a trial date, as well as, concerns over the willingness of jurors to give large verdicts under the circumstances. Your practice and your client rely on your ability to get the maximum value out of a settlement. But most attorneys are walking into mediation unprepared. Attorneys are drafting mediation statements and negotiating, but to be successful at mediation now requires more than this. We have found that when attorneys can present evidence rather than speculation about the strengths of their case, opposing counsel has no choice but to reconsider their position. Further, the mediator has reason to push back against the opposition. This results in benefits beyond the mediation table as discussed further below.
”We settled the case today and your jury research proved very valuable in our evaluation and lent a ton of credibility to our arguments.”
~ Miguel Chapa, NM attorney
It has become necessary to conduct online studies, which we will use to gather juror feedback about your case. We utilize our experience with hundreds of focus groups and over a decade of consulting experience, combined with new technologies to get you the best results possible. We will provide you with video and sound clips of jurors that can be used in mediation. On their own time, jurors login to an online platform to review the case information. We ask for closed-ended and open-ended responses to questions as they go along and a verdict at the end. They can evaluate videos, graphics, and case information. When they are finished, we Zoom interview a select number of the participants to ask follow up questions.
You walk into mediation with data showing evidence of juror leanings, open-ended responses about the liability of the defendant, any comparative negligence claims against the defendant, and how trustworthy jurors find your client or key witnesses. We also provide clips of jurors talking about how strong your case is and why. This information helps to validate and strengthen your negotiating position substantially. Until now, normal practice has been to reserve these research efforts for a later time. Now it is imperative that attorneys conduct this research before mediation.
Beyond the value of this research at mediation, there are a multitude of other benefits:
- If you don’t settle the case, you are much better equipped to move forward with discovery as you will know what questions to ask and what issues to focus on.
- You will have a head start on any other focus groups or further work we do on a case.
- You will have a good idea of whether or notyou need to settle the case. If the research shows that your case has substantial weaknesses, you will save yourself a zero verdict (as a plaintiff) or a large verdict (as a defendant).
- By helping to settle the case, you save yourself and your client potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in experts and man hours to work up the case. But you do not want to simply settle. You want to settle for maximum value which is what this will help you to achieve.
- By working up the case ahead of mediation, you signal to the opposition that you are already ahead of their preparation and scare them into a larger settlement with the anticipation that you will do further research if the case moves forward.
From a cost-benefit analysis, it has now become imperative to perform this research pre-mediation. Costs range from a few thousand and up depending on amount of information you want to present and number of respondents. A good range is between $5000-$8500.
Below are some examples of data that you can show during the mediation: