When a case goes to trial, attorneys for both sides do everything possible to ensure the court rules in their favor. This includes gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and in some instances, hiring a jury consultant. A jury consultant provides a broad range of services, including learning as much as he can about each juror. This information gives the lawyer insight on which jurors to try and keep, and which he should try and eliminate. Keep reading to learn more about the jury consultant.
What Does a Jury Consultant Do?
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants criminal defendants the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury. The Seventh Amendment extends the right to a jury trial to certain civil cases. A jury listens to the facts and renders a verdict. When a case goes to trial, a judge and attorneys for both sides question a pool of potential jurors in an attempt to put together a fair and impartial jury.
To improve the chance of a successful outcome in the courtroom, attorneys sometimes use jury consultants. These consultants, also referred to as “trial consultants,” advise and assist the litigators throughout the proceedings.
Jury consultants generally start providing their services before the trial begins. They research each potential juror to gather information about their background, lifestyle, career, family, and attitudes toward issues pertinent to the case. They use this information to create juror profiles, giving their client an idea about the jurors more likely to vote in their favor. Once jury selection ends, consultants give the attorney suggestions on how to present his or her arguments at trial.
The consultant may also hold a mock trial using substitute jurors. The gives the attorney an idea on how the jury will vote. Other duties of a jury consultant include:
- Preparing witnesses for trial
- Writing persuasive opening or closing statements for attorneys
- Finding ways to present evidence in a positive manner
- Helping lawyers find ways to explain complicated evidence to jurors so that they understand
- Create questionnaires or opinion surveys to measure community attitudes
- Conducting post-trial interviews with jurors to learn what went wrong
Professional Requirements to Become a Jury Consultant
No specific professional requirements exist for jury consultants. However, the most common way to start on the career path entails obtaining a bachelor’s degree (B.S.). While the profession does not require a specific field of study, aspiring consultants benefit from law- or psychology-related field. Regardless of the major chosen, undergraduate programs consist of 120 credit hours of courses or more. Students take general education courses along with specialized courses in the desired field of study.
Additional Educational Requirements
Though not mandatory, students can continue their studies and gain experience in the field. Many lawyers and law firms prefer to hire jury consultants that hold a master’s or Ph.D. in behavioral science, psychology, criminal justice, or sociology. Students can also complete internships or clerkships for more experience in the field.
Additional Licensing Requirements
The position does not require any type of license. Consultants can seek membership with professional organizations dedicated to trial consulting. These organizations offer benefits such as access to legal libraries, discounted rates for year conferences, and more. Some even connect employees with employers looking to fill the position.
Where Can You Work as a Jury Consultant
There are two main contexts when it comes to where you can work as a jury consultant. You can work at a consulting or law firm or as an independent contractor. Consulting firms specialize in consulting services while law firms use both attorneys and consultants. Generally, both types of firms hire individuals with more experience. These consultants work only for the firm’s clients. Self-employed consultants, however, have more flexibility when it comes to which jobs to accept.
Regardless of whether employed by a firm or as an independent contractor, consultants must prepare for a fast-paced and demanding work environment. They spend part of their time in office settings conducting research and collecting information. This role may also require frequent travel and unusual schedules.
How Do Jury Consultants Get Paid
Typically, jury consultants get paid per job. The pay varies from $10,000 to more than $250,000 per job. The level of expertise and length of experience plays a part in how much a consultant makes. The geographical area also impacts the amount of pay.
Some law firms pay consultants an hourly wage or an annual salary. Hourly employees tend to earn less than those on salary, but they have the opportunity for overtime pay. They also work less hours per week on average. Both however, receive benefits such as sick pay, vacation pay, retirement plans, and more.
Jury Consultant Salary
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) Occupational Outlook Handbook, does not separate jury consultants from the other legal professionals, it does give a glimpse into this fascinating career. According to the Handbook, the average annual salary for legal professionals is $50,410 as of 2018.
Consultants with more experience tend to fall on the higher end of the pay scale. The same goes for consultants working at law large firms.
Employment Outlook for Jury Consultants
The BLS predicts that the growth rate for legal professionals will increase around 9% by 2026. This is the average growth rate for jobs in the U.S. Legal professionals play a vital role in the justice system and the demand continues to rise.
How to Get a Job as a Jury Consultant
To get a job as a jury consultant, start with tapping into personal connections. Those interested in the field should also check into internships with law or consulting firms. Getting a membership with a professional organization specializing in trial consulting can general personal connection. Additionally, check various employment websites. These websites connect employees and employers.
|Degree Level||Bachelor’s (Master’s or Doctorate recommended)|
|Degree Field(s)||Social sciences|
|Key Skills||Listening, critical thinking, problem solving, verbal communication, research, analytical, researching, observative|
|Number of Jobs (2016)||116, 200|
|9% growth rate (average growth rate)|
|Median Salary (2017)||$50,410*|
|On the Job Training||Short term of on-the-job training|
|Top Earners||Top earners in the field are generally employed by large law firms|
(*Source: the BLS)