Focus Groups: Find the Best Stories Among All of the Facts

Even the best-prepared cases can fall flat if the attorneys are unable to develop a case story that best reaches the decision makers. The challenge rests in how to actually determine what the case story is – not what you think it is – and how best to deliver it, be it in negotiation, mediation or trial. It bears repeating: the facts can't speak for themselves, so it's up to you to speak for them. And the facts are easily found in a professional focus group. This group, of living, breathing, story-building people is the logical place to discover the full range of possible influences working for and against you. This is true whether the decision makers you must influence are sitting across a negotiating table, on a mediation panel, behind the bench or in the jury box. The participants aren't professionals – they're laypeople. The professionals are the ones who conduct the session, analyze the results, and develop a strategy to use those findings to their full advantage. The technique isn't learned overnight – Eric has spent decades crafting and refining the focus group strategy – and has a litany of success to show for it.

 

 

Here are some of the issues a focus group can reveal:

 

 

Preparation

  • Which holes need to be filled in discovery or depositions
  • Which in limine motions are critical and which you can afford to lose
  • Which language and imagery you need to bring to both expert and lay deposits

 

Witnesses

  • Which one you should start with – and which one to finish
  • How to keep experts on your page and message
  • When and which ones may not be necessary

 

Meditation and/or Negotiation

  • How to best reframe opposition points
  • Which points to freely attack – and which to avoid
  • What demonstratives to develop and bring

 

Persuasion

  • What proofs not directly tied to the claims are essential to this story
  • How to use remaining discovery to maximize your advantages
  • How to communicate a whole brain-friendly persuasive theme

 

Case Story

  • Define the plan for the story presentation – from theme to witness order
  • Where your case story should start, where it should go, and when it should end
  • What are the frames you need to set, in what order, to be most persuasive, and the visual and verbal anchors that will best hold those frames in place

 

Visual Aids

  • Which demonstratives are essential – and which ones you can do without
  • When to use visual aids (despite what you’ve always done in the past)
  • Which layout, imagery and color scheme will work best for this case

 

Voir Dire

  • What one topic is the most essential to explore
  • How to sequence and select topics for discussion
  • How to improve your rate of strikes for cause using the case story

 

The ideal time to conduct a focus group is in the middle of your preparation – before discovery ends. These groups feature structured, adversarial presentations by the lawyers combined with oral and written surveys from the consultant, typically presented to a group of 21 participants over an eight-hour period. The group size is large enough to provide a broad perspective on a variety of issues, yet small enough to be effective and manageable.

 

We realize that your time is valuable, and our approach reflects that. First, we spend a couple of days with you, developing the most effective presentations for the group. Then, we thoroughly review the results and get them to you in plenty of time to draft, review and revise your case presentation.

 

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