Attorneys Rely on DOAR Director Ellen Brickman to Decode Juror Sentiment in Complex Litigation

DOAR Director, Ellen Brickman, Ph.D., is a pioneer in jury consulting, having advised attorneys on hundreds of high-profile criminal and civil cases throughout her 30-year career. She is regarded by top attorneys as one of the nation’s leading jury consultants, especially in the areas of white collar criminal defense and intellectual property, and has also worked on a significant number of employment, contract, and other civil cases. Dr. Brickman is particularly skilled at designing research to answer complex strategic questions and at helping attorneys interpret the research findings and their implications for trial strategy.

“I love the research,” she says. “At the risk of revealing my inner data geek, I’m excited by the challenge of setting aside my assumptions and pre-conceptions about what people will think of a case and just watching their nuanced discussions and letting the data speak to me. It keeps me on my toes intellectually.”

With a Ph.D. from Columbia University in social psychology, Dr. Brickman offers the following tips when assessing jurors’ comments during research events and how to use those findings to enhance the trial strategy.

  1. Listen not just to what jurors say but also what they don’t say. What ideas presented to them never gained traction in discussion or deliberations? Those ideas are clear candidates for either re-working or paring down at trial.
  2. Identify the pivot points in a group discussion—the ideas that suddenly animate people or change the conversation’s tone or direction. When those ideas favor your client, they are the ones to hit hardest and position strategically in case presentations. If they favor your adversary, they can be the targets of your strongest attacks.
  3. Listen to how jurors explain the case to each other and clarify points for other jurors. For example, in an IP case, hearing a juror effectively translate complex technology into lay terms is invaluable. The language or analogies used by the juror can be strategically incorporated into openings.

As a jury consultant, Dr. Brickman has published articles on many aspects of trial strategy and has presented widely to attorneys and judges. Notably, she authored a study titled “Implications for Litigating Employment Cases in a #MeToo World,” where she assessed jurors’ beliefs about social inequality and disparate treatment and how those beliefs, along with juror characteristics, are likely to play a role in their evaluations of claims of discrimination and harassment.

Additionally, Dr. Brickman has done extensive research on jurors’ perceptions in white collar criminal defense matters. Most recently, she was published in the New York Law Journal for her piece, “The White-Collar Defense Juror & The Trump Effect: An Empirical Analysis.” She also played a pivotal role as a litigation strategist and jury consultant on behalf of the defendants in the criminal chicken industry antitrust trials that resulted in 2 mistrials and an eventual acquittal on all charges.

Dr. Brickman combines her broader research studies with the findings of case-specific pre-trial research and her decades of experience to advise top attorneys. She especially appreciates being able to do this in DOAR’s highly collegial team environment on important, interesting, and high-stakes matters.

“Without a doubt, what makes DOAR the best in the business comes down to two things: First, the pool of talent and experience that people bring to the work, and second, our model of integrating jury consulting, graphics consulting, and presentation consulting into every phase of the work. At every stage, from pre-trial research to the very last day of trial, all three perspectives are combined to make what is presented to factfinders as clear and persuasive as possible. This remarkable synergy is evident in everything we do.”

Contact us to learn more about how DOAR can help you with your next matter.


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