August 2013 Bar Bulletin
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August 2013 Bar Bulletin

Plugging in to the Modern Jury Pool

By Chris Hazelmann


Gone are the days when juries were made up of "Twelve Angry Men," sequestered in a muggy, smoke-filled room. More than half of the men and women in today's jury-eligible pool are from the GenX and Millennial generations. That's a startling statistic - startling because it means that more than ever before, today's prospective jurors are tech savvy, think differently and have specific expectations about the way information is presented to them.

Over and over again in the courtroom, we see our clients' adversaries forgetting these important lessons and failing to present their cases according to jurors' wants and needs. We're expert at spotting jurors' eyes glaze over as opposing counsel loses juror after juror with ineffective argument.

In fact, we see this so frequently we've assembled our top three favorite ways that attorneys alienate their jurors. Below are just some of the things we make sure to guard against while preparing for trial and to help our clients present their cases effectively to this ever-growing juror base.

Over-Complicate Arguments

Attention spans are decreasing dramatically. Sound bites during presidential debates demonstrate shorter and shorter durations between applause. Most information on the web is written as concisely as possible. Think Twitter and 140 characters. That's how the younger generations are thinking, reading and writing - chunks and thin-slicing.

Attorneys often know too much about a case. It's tempting to try to explain everything, which ends up boring your audience and turning them against you. Our consultants work with you to help winnow out the chaff and move on when needed.

What To Do Instead: Sum up your case - in a single word. Tell a story your grandmother can understand. And above all else, get rid of unnecessary stuff.

When Stoel Rives first approached us to help in the hugely successful Brightwater tunneling contract litigation for King County, the case was estimated to last four to five months.

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