By Jonathan P. Vallano, Ph.D.
In the past 25 years, trial consultants have become increasingly important to litigators and litigation alike. In fact, trial consultants arguably permeate the landscape of complex litigation. Although there is little doubt that trial consultants provide attorneys with valuable tools to help them more effectively represent their clients at trial (e.g., via pre-trial research, focus groups, trial and witness preparation, etc.), are the services provided by trial consultants limited to trial? This post will discuss the role that consultants play in all phases of litigation, particularly cases that do not make it to trial. This post will also discuss what a consultant's role should be, and whether this role should transcend individual clients to assist the legal system as a whole. That is, should we urge consultants to extend their influence beyond improving litigators' individual advocacy efforts on specific cases to using knowledge of research and practice to inform and improve the legal system?