Potholes to avoid when using online jury research

Does online jury research work for the legal industry? Can this method work as well as “live” jury research?  SLR has an online research tool, but before you use ours or others, there are important factors to take into consideration before you use online jury research.

Potholes to avoid with online research:

  • Be cautious if you are told that it is the same as a live mock (e.g. three hours for online vs. eight hours for live researches).
  • Be cautious if it is very cheap; this usually means that the research participants are not properly recruited and therefore not reflective of your venue.
  • Be cautious if the consultants are noticeably inexpensive; it takes time to understand your case.
  • Be cautious if it is put together too fast; it takes time to recruit the proper mock jurors, develop good plaintiff and defense scripts, prepare good juror questionnaires, etc.
  • Be cautious if the presentations are not balanced; good plaintiff and defense presentations are critical for unbiased results.
  • Be cautious if you are testing too much in such a shortened format (e.g. complex jury instructions or too many verdict questions).
  • Be cautious if it is claimed that you can “predict” – juror profiles, damages or verdicts.

Expectations for good online research:

  • Research participants should match the specifications of your venue; you want information from the correct audience.
  • Research participants should be properly vetted for conflicts; you do not want participants who know the opposing party.
  • Jury consultants should spend the time to assist you with your presentations; even handed presentations are essential to avoid biased results.
  • Jury consultants should know your case so they can properly discuss it with the research participants and analyze the research results.
  • Jury consultants should speak with you, read case documents and understand your case.
  • Jury consultants should prepare, post research, a quality research report with strategic recommendations, not just data.

Merits of online jury research:

  • It can be useful if you want an early risk assessment.
  • It can be cheaper and faster.
  • It can be easier to schedule than a live mock and requires no travel.
  • It can be effective for a simple case with a simple verdict question.
  • It can be useful if you are testing only one or two important case issues.
  • It can be useful if you are testing a limited number of important witnesses.

Yes, online jury research can work, but its limitations should always be assessed. We at SLR do not subscribe to the notion that “any information is better than no information”. Data improperly gathered and analyzed can be more dangerous than no data, meaning important decisions can be based upon erroneous information. These are critical factors to consider when you are choosing which jury research method to use for your case.