Attorneys use focus groups to get a more objective view of their cases. Through focus groups, attorneys are able to see which of their arguments are persuasive, develop a theme for their case, and learn what juror characteristics they need to win their trial. If used properly, focus groups can be helpful in trial preparation or settlement negotiations since they provide attorneys with a more realistic prospective of their case.
Focus groups are great for providing qualitative information such as how people think, talk, and feel about particular topics. Focus groups, however, do not provide a realistic trial experience for the participants or the attorneys. Additionally, focus groups lack verdicts and deliberations and do not provide accurate monetary value for the case nor do they necessarily predict how the jurors or judge will respond at trial.
Focus Group v. Private Jury Trial
Because of the inherent limitations of focus groups, some research companies have developed different research techniques which allow attorneys to get lay opinions about their cases while providing a more realistic trial experience. For the last thirty years, First Court has been conducting private jury trials around the country. Like a focus group, private jury trials (“PJT”) allow attorneys to present their case before a group of people in the case’s venue. Unlike a focus group, however, a PJT has a similar format to a trial which allows for more accurate results from the participants and gives the trial team experience presenting their case. In a PJT, the participants actually deliberate at the end of the trial. The result? more realistic verdicts.
Focus Group v. Online Jury Research
In addition to private trials and focus groups, some companies now offer online jury research. The purpose of online jury research is to get feedback about a case from individuals in a particular venue. Online jury research is often more cost-effective than an in-person focus group or private trial. Online jury research is ideal for the beginning stages of a case when testimony is still fluid and arguments are still up for grabs.
JuryReactions® is First Court’s online jury research service. Through JuryReactions®, jurors from the trial venue log into First Court’s software when it is convenient for them. They see the story of the case and react to one screen at a time. They evaluate lawyers and witnesses on video. They respond to pictures, diagrams, animations, documents and bullet point summaries of testimony. Most interesting is that the webcam is on: the trial team can actually see the faces of your jurors and hear the emotion in their voices as they respond to the most critical issues in the case.
When deciding what research format to use, it is important to consider what type of information you need to get and the stage of your case. If you simply need some qualitative information about a particular topic, a focus group may be your best option. However, if you need more accurate results or want to test your entire case, consider a Private Jury Trial. If you are at the beginning stages of your case or are working with a limited budget, online jury research such as JuryReactions® is likely your best option. Regardless, remember to pick a service that will provide you with as much objective feedback as possible so that you can strengthen your case.